As we recounted in our earlier blog about David Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee held over three days in September 1769, the all too typical British weather meant that the pageant which was to have been the grand finale of the event had to be cancelled. Instead, Garrick turned his pageant into a play, The Jubilee, which premiered a month later at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane on the 14th October, running for over ninety performances.
The comedic actress Frances Abington was among the stars of the day who appeared; she played the Comic Muse, Thalia, a role in which she was depicted by Joshua Reynolds.
The play was based on Garrick’s planned pageant and was also something of a tongue-in-cheek retrospective on the celebrations which had taken place in Stratford when the town had been so crowded with visitors that many had to sleep in their coaches and the persistent rain had led to flooding.
“The Stratford Jubilee was, in October, transferred to Drury-Lane. In order to give it a dramatic form, Garrick invented a comic fable, in which the inferior people of Stratford and the visitors were exhibited with great pleasantry. As it was never published, an exact account is not to be expected. We remember a scene in an inn-yard, with a postchaise standing at the remote end: when a crowd, after much diverting talk, withdrew from the place, a voice was heard from the inside of the chaise. Moody was within; he let down the blind, and, in the character of an Irishman, complained, that not being able to get a lodging, be was obliged to sleep in his chaise. He then came forward amidst bursts of applause; King soon joined him, and they two were the life of the piece. The dialogue throughout was carried on in a vein of humour. The songs that had been heard at Stratford were, occasionally, intermixed; and the whole concluded with a grand procession, in which Shakspeare’s plays were exhibited in succession, with a banner displayed before each of them, and a scene painted on the canvas to mark the play intended. A train of performers, dressed in character, followed the colours, all in dumb shew acting their respective parts. Mrs. Abington, at last, in a triumphal car, represented the Comic Muse. Dr. Arne’s music, the magnificence of the scenery and decorations, and the abilities of the actors, conspired to establish the entertainment in the public opinion in so powerful a manner, that we are assured, by a gentleman who has a collection of the playbills, that it was repeated no less than one hundred times in the course of the season. During the run of the piece, Garrick, on several intermediate nights, ascended a pulpit raised on the stage, and there spoke his Ode to the Memory of Shakspeare in a style of graceful eloquence.
Garrick had lost a huge amount of his own money on the jubilee celebrations in Stratford upon Avon, but he recouped his losses and more besides during his play’s run at the Theatre Royal. Despite his losses, he would appear to have been less extravagant than his brother during the celebrations.
During the celebration of Garrick’s Jubilee, his brother George, purchased an inkstand, which the poet is said to have used, and a pair of fringed gloves, which it was assumed he had worn. David Garrick, notwithstanding all his enthusiasm for Shakspeare, was too careful of his purse to part with its contents for reliques, the genuineness of which was so questionable.
All in all, the play proved to be more of a success than the jubilee held in Stratford, at least for David Garrick.
This dramatic piece was revived by Mr. Kemble, on the 23d of April, 1816, exactly two hundred years after the death of Shakespeare, but it was not very favourably received.
The jubilee [manuscript], 1769byGarrick, David, 1717-1779; Britton, John, 1771-1857, former owner; Waldron, F. G. (Francis Godolphin), 1744-1818, former owner; Barton, Thomas Pennant, 1803-1869, former owner
Quotations from Shakespeariana: plays, Volume 1, 1825
The actor and theatre manager David Garrick as Shakespeare’s Richard III by William Hogarth, c.1745. Walker Art Gallery.
Between the 6th and 8th of September 1769, the town of Stratford-upon-Avon held the first jubilee celebration commemorating the life of the great playwright, William Shakespeare. The event was organised by David Garrick, who was both an actor and the manager of the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, Covent Garden. Garrick had portrayed many of Shakespeare’s best-known characters on the stages of London and of Dublin and so was invited to dedicate a statue of the bard at the new town hall: Garrick had other ideas however and turned the event into a three-day spectacular.
The 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee, also known as Garrick’s Jubilee, was ostensibly to celebrate Shakespeare’s birth but was held five years too late (Shakespeare was baptised in April 1564). Regardless of the discrepancy in dates, it was hugely popular and helped to fix Shakespeare as England’s national poet.
Stratford-upon-Avon was flooded – a somewhat unfortunate metaphor, as will be seen – with visitors for the duration of the Jubilee. The town’s only inn was fully booked and townspeople made a small fortune in renting out rooms (albeit while grumbling about the inconvenience to their daily lives) but even so, many visitors were forced to sleep in their carriages overnight. A masquerade warehouse had opened in the town, in anticipation of the extravaganza and, a new sight to the townsfolk, sedan chairs had been brought from London and Bath.
The celebrations opened on Wednesday 6th September to cannon fire and a breakfast at the town hall. A portrait of Shakespeare by Garrick’s friend Benjamin Wilson hung at one end of the dining room and one of Garrick by Thomas Gainsborough at the other (both portraits were sadly lost in a fire in 1946). At 11 o’clock Dr Thomas Arne’s Oratorio of Judith was performed in the church, featuring, amongst others, the celebrated Mrs Sophia Baddeley.
After that, attention turned to a specially built wooden structure on the banks of the River Avon, the Jubilee Pavilion or rotunda, where a dinner was held with almost a thousand ladies and gentlemen crammed in at the tables, many more than anticipated. The food was accompanied by the sound of workmen hammering in nails: the rotunda had not been completed in time and work was still ongoing to make it sound. Garrick, ever the showman, carried on regardless and proclaimed the toast while holding a goblet made of mulberry wood ‘cut out of the mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare’. Following the dinner was a ball which was opened by John Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset and the Duke of Ancaster’s sister, Lady Mary Greathead.
The Jubilee, despite Garrick’s best-laid plans, now began to descend into a comedic farce and the typically British weather was to blame. It didn’t just rain, it poured and the pageant and attendant processions through the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon, with participants dressed as characters from Shakespeare’s plays, had to be abandoned. Instead, after a public breakfast, Garrick delivered an ode in honour of the bard, wearing a medallion of Shakespeare on his breast and brandishing a wand both made, like his goblet, from mulberry wood. In the window frames, were large transparent portraits representing the most popular Shakespearian characters.
The evening entertainment was a masquerade ball, held in the rotunda, and a planned firework display. Unfortunately, the masquerade guests had to be carried in, or risk their footwear as they waded ankle-deep through the river water which was rapidly rising, and the roof was discovered to leak in places. Despite this, a good time was had by all, with the guests attired in a myriad of fantastical costumes. James Boswell, newly returned from Corsica, and having just published a memoir of his travels, appeared finely dressed as a Corsican. He subsequently had his picture engraved and published in the London Magazine with a puff-piece of an article written by himself.
One of the most remarkable masks upon this occasion was James Boswell Esq.
The fireworks ended up being little more than damp squibs in the deluge. At the close of the festivities, various masked guests including drunken witches, harlequins, sultans and one Corsican had to wade knee-deep across the meadow on which the rotunda was sited to reach their carriages and beds.
It rained until midday on Friday 8th September. The River Avon had overflowed to such an extent that the rotunda was flooded. All that could be salvaged of the last day’s planned entertainment was an extremely waterlogged horse race on Shottery Meadow but by this time it was too late and many guests had abandoned the Jubilee altogether and were heading as fast as they could on jam-packed roads away from the town. As Boswell noted:
After the joy of the jubilee came the uneasy reflection that I was in a little village in wet weather and knew not how to get away.
Bizarrely, there had been no performance of a Shakespeare play planned for the event, not even one scene, a fact which garnered much criticism. Referring to the event afterwards as ‘my folly’, Garrick was forced to admit that, although this was an intended omission with the idea that people would discover the bard ‘all around them’ instead of through his plays, this was a glaring error and – coupled with the complete washout of the event – it marked a low point in his career. He also lost a large sum of his own money in staging the event. However, as we shall see in a later blog, all was not yet lost. The redoubtable Garrick had one more trick up his sleeve with which he hoped to salvage both his reputation and the Jubilee celebrations.
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 14th September 1769
Boswell’s Jubilee: against the backdrop of the 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee, James Boswell’s willpower is tested. Andrew McConnell Stott, 2016 (Lapham’s Quarterly)
‘The borough of Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespearean festivals and theatres’, in A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred, ed. Philip Styles (London, 1945), pp. 244-247. British History Online
The actor and theatre manager David Garrick as Shakespeare’s Richard III by William Hogarth, c.1745. Walker Art Gallery.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, Valentine Snow was the father of Sophia Baddeley. We have found little about Valentine’s early life, but he was reputed to be the son of Moses Snow. However, in our opinion Moses has been listed as his father just because he was involved with music too and has the same surname, there appears no other proof to substantiate this as yet and whilst he might be a relative, we feel fairly certain that he was not Valentine’s father.
The London Daily Post and General Advertiser dated the 10th March 1743 carried an advertisement for a benefit concert to be held at New Theatre, Haymarket for Valentine Snow; it was to be ‘a concert of vocal and instrumental musick‘. These concerts took place on a very regular basis, with tickets available from Mr Snow’s house in Storey’s Gate. By 1745 Valentine had moved to Duke Street, Westminster. A curious entry appeared in the General Advertiser at the end of 1745 regarding a benefit concert which was to take place at the Swan Tavern. It said that the trumpet was to be played by Valentine Snow and his brother.
This was the first reference we had come across to Valentine having a brother who also played the trumpet. We assumed from that report that ultimately Valentine was regarded as being the more talented of the two. It does however appear likely that he was named Jonathan and that Valentine named one of his sons after his brother. If that theory is correct then Jonathan, who we had possibly wrongly assumed was not as talented as his brother, was in fact, in charge of Majesty’s Band of Musicians from 1749 having taken over from William Harris, so clearly more talented than we had initially given him credit for being.
At the beginning of 1747, His Grace, The Duke of Grafton, Lord Chamberlain, appointed Valentine to be one of his Majesty’s Band of Musicians. In early 1753 he was appointed Sergeant Trumpeter to his Majesty. This role was regarded as highly lucrative but it was about administration rather than a playing role. All trumpet players had to apply for a license to perform in theatrical productions and were appointed by the Sergeant Trumpeter. Various notice appeared in the press instigated by Valentine regarding fees due and the penalty that could be expected for non payment.
We know that he also performed at Vauxhall Gardens from around 1745 to at least 1753; his daughter Sophia sang there some years later. Vauxhall Gardens was, at that time, regarded as one of the main centres for public entertainment in London. Although considered an excellent venue for concerts etc., it was also a place that young people could meet freely without the usual constraints of polite society. However, the gardens also acquired a not so welcome image as a place for prostitutes to ply their trade. Sophia was baptized in Lambeth in the October of 1744, the only one of Valentine’s children to be baptized outside his home parish of Westminster. Could his engagement at Vauxhall Gardens be the reason for this?
As mentioned in Sophia’s blog article Valentine’s son Charles joined the Royal Navy but died around May 1759 (his father Valentine proved his son’s will on the 14 May of that year). This death might have been the cause of Jonathan cancelling a benefit concert at the end of April 1759 for in a newspaper advertisement he says that it has been ‘stopt by an unforeseen Accident, not having the lease previous Notice of it.’
Jonathan Snow, meanwhile, was following his father’s profession. Whilst proficient on the trumpet he was most talented as a harpsichordist. On the 3rd April 1750, a concert was announced ‘for the Benefit of Master Jonathan Snow, a youth of nine years of age‘ at the New Theatre in the Haymarket. It featured his father playing the trumpet, whilst Jonathan played the harpsichord. Jonathan kept on performing after this. On 3rd May 1764, Jonathan married Elizabeth Harrison with his father Valentine present as a witness.
It would certainly appear that despite having a relatively high profile position, Valentine either earned little or spent a lot as Elizabeth Steele, when writing Sophia’s memoirs, mentioned that at one point Valentine had been forced to pawn his trumpet and regalia and then needed them to play at Windsor. He turned to Sophia but she had no money and so it was Elizabeth who loaned him the money to get the items out of pawn.
There are quite a few documents surviving in which Valentine Snow petitioned for arrears of his salary, the last being dated the 25th October 1770.
On the 22nd December 1770 Garrick, owner of Drury Lane theatre, wrote to the Earl of Hertford about Valentine’s son Jonathan Snow. The letter (reproduced in New Garrick Letters by F.P. Lock) reads as follows:
The Bearer Mr Snow imagines that my troubling your Lordship with a Line might be of Service to him. I have so often been impertinent, that I shall only Say, that I am well assur’d of the truth of Mr Snow’s Petition, and that without your Lordship’s favour, I fear he will be left by his Father in a very wretched situation–I must beg Your Lordship’s Pardon for saying so much
My Lord Your Lordship’s most dutiful humble Servant
Jonathan Snow’s petition read:
To the Right Hon[oura]ble The Earl of Hertford Lord Chamberlain of his Majesty’s Household The Humble Petition of Jonathan Snow Sheweth
That by the Death of his Father Valentine Snow, the Place of Sergeant Trumpet is now become Vacant[.] Your Lordships Petitioner with the Greatest Submission Craves Leave to inform your Lordship that the Place of Sergeant Trumpet, has gone from Father to Son for above a Century Past. your Lordships Petitioner has Through the Great Misfortunes of his Father, unavoidably become Bound in Several Large sums of Money, which will be the inevitable Ruin of him and his increasing Family, and to add to his Deep Distress, he now has an Aged Mother and a helpless Sister to Provide for.
under this Deplorable Situation Your Lordships Petitioner Most Humbly implores your Lordship to succeed his Father.
and as in Duty Bound, he and his Helpless Family shall Ever Pray
Sophia also tried to help her brother obtain the position but this too proved unsuccessful and a Thomas Harris took Jonathan’s father’s place on the 24th January 1771. Just a few days later Valentine Snow died and was buried in the great vault at St Margaret’s, Westminster, on the 30th December 1770 with his funeral costing £40 and paid for by his daughter Sophia.
From Webb’s collection of Epitaphs, Vol II, page 4:
Thaw every breast, melt every eye with woe,
Here’s dissolution by the hand of death;
To dirt, to water’s turn’d the fairest Snow,
O! the king’s Trumpeter has lost his breath.
After his death Sophia gave her mother 3 guineas a week during her life as she was almost destitute. Sophia’s mother was at taken dangerously ill – Sophia ordered a physician and sat with her almost all the night but she was better the next day at which point Sophia and Elizabeth returned to Brighthelmstone.
Mrs Snow then deteriorated and begged to see Sophia and Elizabeth immediately. On returning they found her very ill but coherent and Dr John Eliot (the former husband of Grace Dalrymple) was sent for as Mrs Snow thought she was dying. Dr Eliot thought she wasn’t that bad but wouldn’t live six months; he was asked to attend her daily. Mrs Snow again improved so Sophia and Elizabeth planned a jaunt to Paris and on their return they found her well. However, around the end of May 1773 Sophia’s mother died (according to a report in the General Evening Post of the 1st June 1773) and was buried on the 13th June in Westminster.
A year later Jonathan Snow appeared in the London Poll books with his occupation recorded as an organist but he never achieved the acclaim his late father or sister Sophia did. After Valentine’s death his wife and daughter Mary were described as ‘helpless’ and in dire straits. Jonathan was also soon to be declared bankrupt and he died in 1791.
The John Marsh Journal, the life and times of a Gentleman Composer (1752 – 1828), recorded that just prior to his death Jonathan was beset by gout which had seriously affected his fingers and ability to play. The London Oracle, 18th May 1791 reported Jonathan’s death describing him as having died on the 8th of May, he was described as being ‘charitable and humane’ and financial help was solicited for his daughter and sister, blind and lame, who were left in a situation truly deplorable. He was buried at St James, Westminster on the 11th May 1791.
It would seem that despite all the prestige the family achieved none of them achieved a happy life and died in poverty. Valentine’s fame lives on today with his portrait on display at Fenton House, a National Trust property, at Hampstead Grove, London.
As a foot note we thought it might be helpful to note the abbreviations used in the St Margaret’s Burial Registers Fees, to help others searching the records.
GD Great Duty (adult) ch child
CD Child Duty pl plague
GN Great Nils SB still born
CN Child Nils CSB child still born
DD Double Duty S Soldier
G½D Great ½ Duty (half fees) SC Soldier’s child
C½D Child ½ Duty BB base born
N Nils (no fees)
CCN Child Child Nils (for brothers and sisters buried together) GDSMY Great Duty St Margaret’s Yard
GDDSMY Great Double Duty St Margaret’s Yard
G½DCY Great ½ Duty Chapel Yard (Broadway)MY St Margaret’s Church Yard CY Broadway Chapel Yard
MC Middle Church (St Margaret) NC New Chapel (Broadway)
CV Chancel Vault (St Margaret) BWC Broadway Chapel
GV Great Vault (St Margaret) CC Chapel Church (Broadway)
MtCVt St Margaret’s Chancel Vault CCC Chapel Church Chancel
MtGVt St Margaret’s Great Vault GHouse Gatehouse