Henry Mossop

Mossop, Henry, a distinguished actor, was born in Ireland, in 1729. His father was rector of Tuam. While studying at Trinity College, he was attracted to the stage by Garrick's acting, went himself upon the boards, and showed extraordinary promise. After acting for a time in Dublin, he quarrelled with the manager and went to London, where he appeared as "Richard III." "His style of acting seems strongly to have resembled that of Kean of the present day — singularly vivid, subtle, and forcible; but with defects of abruptness of delivery, and irregularity of performance. He had another grand imperfection — that of believing that his talents were as unlimited as his ambition. He grasped at all the leading characters without discrimination, and of course played many of them without effect."[3]

Quitting Drury-lane in disgust, he returned to Ireland, declaring that "there should be but one theatre in Ireland, and that he would be at the head of it." Refusing a salary of £1,000 at Crow-street Theatre, in November 1760 he took a lease of Smock-alley, and entered upon a career of theatrical management, for which he was ill-qualified. The Countess of Bandon and others of his friends spared no efforts to make his entertainments fashionable; but after twelve years' struggle (having in that period leased both the Dublin theatres) he became bankrupt, and returned to London in 1772, broken down in health and spirits. He died, penniless, in a poor lodging at Chelsea, in November 1773, aged 43. While admitting many faults in his acting, a dramatic critic has remarked: "Garrick and Barry only were his superiors; in parts of vehemence and rage he was almost unequalled, and in sentimental gravity, from the power of his voice and the justness of his conceptions, he was a very commanding speaker."


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

110. Dublin, History of the City: John T. Gilbert. 3 vols. Dublin, 1854-'9.

349. Worthies of Ireland, Biographical Dictionary of the: Richard Ryan. 2 vols. London, 1821. Wyse, Thomas, see No. 73.