Beard, John

, an English actor and singer, born in 1717, was bred up in the king’s chapel, and was one of the singers in the duke of Chandos’s chapel at Cannons, where he performed in Esther, an oratorio composed by Mr. Handel. He appeared the first time on the stage at | Drury-lane, Aug. 30, 1737, in sir John Loverule, in the “Devil to Pay.” He afterwards, on the 8th of Jan. 1739, married lady Henrietta Herbert, daughter of J&mes earl Waldegrave, and widow of lord Edward Herbert, second son of the marquis of Powis. She died 31st of May 1753. On his marriage he quitted the stage for a few years. He afterwards returned to Drury-lane, and in 1744 to Coventgarden, where he remained until 1758. In that year he engaged with Mr. Garrick, and continued with him until 1759, when having married a daughter of Mr. Rich, he was engaged at Covent-garden, where, on the death of that gentleman, he became manager. His first appearance there was on the 10th of Oct. 1759, in the character of Macheath, which, aided by Miss Brent in Polly, ran fifty-two nights. In 1768 he retired from the theatre, and died universally respected at the age of seventy-four, in 1791. His remains were deposited in the vault of the church at Hampton in Middlesex. He was long the deserved favourite of the public; and whoever remembers the variety of his abilities, as actor and singer, in oratorios and operas, both serious and comic, win 1 testify to his having stood unrivalled in fame and excellence. This praise, however, great as it -was, fell short of what his private merits acquired. He had one of the sincerest hearts joined to the most polished manners. He was a most delightful companion, whether as host or guest. His time, his pen, and purse, were devoted to the alleviation of every distress that fell within the compass of his power, and through life he fulfilled the relative duties of son, brother, guardian, friend, and husband, with the most exemplary truth and tenderness.1


From the last edition of this Dict.—Gent. Mag. 1791.