Spranger Barry

Barry, Spranger, a distinguished actor, born in Skinner-row, Dublin, 20th November 1719. His father was a silversmith, and young Barry followed that business until he went on the stage at Smock-alley, about 1744. His success was decided; and in London he for a time divided the public favour with Garrick. In 1757 he built Crow-street theatre, and ruined himself; but afterwards, returning to London, he repaired his fortunes, and stood high with the public until his death in 1777, when he found a tomb in Westminster Abbey. He was remarkable for habits of magnificence and profuse hospitality, and for mean cleverness in putting off creditors. He is described as of a noble, commanding person; his actions were graceful; his features were regular, expressive, and rather handsome; his countenance was open, placid, and benevolent, but mobile, and easily wrought to expressions of haughtiness and contempt. Dibdin describes him as "an actor of most extraordinary merit, which was confined, however, to tragedy and serious parts in comedy. In some respects it is questionable whether he did not excel every actor on the stage. These were in scenes and situations full of tender woe and domestic softness, in which his voice, which was mellifluous to wonder, lent astonishing assistance . . but certainly, beyond these requisites, Barry's acting did not extend in any eminent degree." Leigh Hunt says: "Barry was one of the old artificial school, who made his way more by person than by genius."


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

42. Biographical Dictionary: Rev. Hugh J. Rose. 12 vols. London, 1850.

127. English Stage, Annals of the: Dr. Doran, F.S.A. 2 vols. London, 1864.

338. Walker's Hibernian Magazine (1775). Dublin, 1771-1811.
Walker, Joseph C, see Nos. 20, 108.