10.04.2009

o read this Life of the Day complete with a picture of the subject,
visit http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/lotw/2009-10-04



Catley, Ann (1745-1789), singer and actress, was born in an alley off Tower Hill, London, the daughter of a washerwoman and a hackney coachman, Robert Catley. According to The Life and Memoirs of the Late Miss Ann Catley (1789-90) she was a pretty and sexually precocious girl who earned money singing at public houses and to officers at the Tower of London. At the age of fifteen she was bound apprentice to the theatre composer and singing teacher William Bates. In 1762 she sang at Vauxhall Gardens and then joined the Covent Garden Theatre company, making her debut as the pastoral nymph in Thomas Arne's Comus on 8 October. The high-spirited girl rebelled against Bates's control and left to live with a lover, the dissolute baronet Sir Francis Blake Delaval (1727-1771). Delaval arranged for her apprenticeship to be transferred to himself and recompensed Bates for his loss of earnings from her engagements. Ann's father, supported by his Quaker employer, who was shocked by the immorality of the transaction, brought a law suit in May 1763 against Delaval, Delaval's lawyer, and Bates, but Ann remained with Delaval and sang that summer at Marylebone Gardens. The love affair ended and she was engaged by the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, on the recommendation of Charles Macklin, who was giving her acting lessons. On 31 December 1763 the Dublin Journal printed a poem in praise of her performance as Rosetta in Isaac Bickerstaff's Love in a Village. Her impudent charms and accomplished singing drew crowded houses and, according to The Thespian Dictionary, she was paid 40 guineas a night. Her favourite roles included Polly (and occasionally Macheath) in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, Sally in Thomas and Sally, Fanny in Bickerstaffe's Maid of the Mill, Mandane in Arne's Artaxerxes, Laura in The Chaplet, and Euphrosyne in Comus. According to Macklin she was pregnant in February 1764 and there was gossip about numerous lovers, but the Irish public warmed to her personality. When she performed gratis at a concert for the lying-in hospital in May 1765 the takings were £66 13s. as against an average of £6. About 1768 she met Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Lascelles (1744-1799); they became a mutually devoted couple and lived together until her death, when her will divided her estate between their eight surviving children.

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