John Henry Johnstone

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Johnstone, John Henry, actor and vocalist, was born in 1750, in Tipperary, where his father was a farmer. When eighteen years of age he enlisted in a dragoon regiment, where his abilities attracted the attention of the colonel, who bought him out and placed him in a position suitable for the display of his dramatic powers. His success in Dublin, and in London, whither he removed in 1783, was marked; in the delineation of Irish characters he is stated to have shone pre-eminent. In 1803 he quitted Covent-garden for Drury-lane, and the same summer visited Dublin, where his company was obliged to play in the day-time, in consequence of martial law being then in force. He amassed a large fortune, which was inherited by his daughter, Mrs. Wallack, and her children. He died in London, 26th December 1828, aged about 78, and was interred in a vault under the church of St. Paul, Covent-garden. "In the records of the stage no actor ever approached Johnstone in Irish characters. Sir Lucius O'Trigger, Callaghan O'Brallaghan, Major O'Flaherty, Teague, Tully, and Dennis Brulgruddery were portrayed by him in exquisite colours. In fact they stood alone for felicity of nature and original merit." "His rich and delicious singing, and his agreeable and social manners gained the hearts of gentle and simple in his native city. There have been many excellent actors of the low Irishman, but there has been only one comedian that could delineate the refined Irish gentleman, and enter into the genuine unsophisticated humour of a son of the Emerald Isle, with equal talent."

Sources

3. Actors, Representative: W. Clark Russell. London,1875.

36. Biographical Dictionary: William R. Cates. London, 1867.

338. Walker's Hibernian Magazine (1803). Dublin, 1771-1811.
Walker, Joseph C, see Nos. 20, 108.

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