David Garrick

David Garrick (1716 - 1779)

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David Garrick
Born in Herefordshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in London, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 8 Apr 2017
This page has been accessed 217 times.

Categories: Stage Actors | Producers | Playwrights | Westminster Abbey | English Notables | Huguenot Family Members.

David Garrick is Notable.


David Garrick was a grandson of a Huguenot emigrant (1540-1790).

"David Garrick was an English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who influenced nearly all aspects of theatrical practice throughout the 18th century, and was a pupil and friend of Dr Samuel Johnson..." [1]

"...privileged to consult the vast stores of papers and letters which Garrick left behind him... all the eyes... seemed to have settled on that one side of Garrick's life the theatrical portion quite ignoring that other remarkable and no less interesting view of his own personal character beside which as I trust the present account will show his vast histrionic gifts become almost secondary..." [2]

"Garrick: Usually Huguenot. Pierre Bouffard, Sieur de La Garrigue, was head of a family at Castres near Bordeaux. A member of the family fled to England in 1685, and adopted the name of the family estate. His grandson and namesake the actor, David Garrick, was born at Hereford in 1716." [3]

Garrick’s personal qualities have been much praised (“The chastity of Mr. Garrick…and his exemplary life as a man have been a great service to the morals of a dissipated age,” wrote Sir John Fielding), but he had his quarrels and his behavior was not without flashes of professional jealousy. His sense of humor still comes across in his letters, and he took ribbing about his modest height in stride. Plagued by ill-health much of the time, he neverthless enjoyed life to the fullest.

David Garrick was born in Hereford in 1717, son of Peter Garrick (a Huguenot refugee who arrived in England as an infant and grew up to become an army officer) and his wife, Arabella Clough (a vicar-choral’s daughter from Lichfield). Peter Garrick’s regiment was based in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and David grew up there with his six brothers and sisters. In 1737, he left Lichfield for London, over 100 miles to the south-east, traveling with his friend and (briefly) schoolmaster, the young Samuel Johnson. In London, twenty-year-old David Garrick considered a law career, then set himself up as a wholesale wine dealer with his elder brother, Peter. Over the next few years, Garrick’s long-held interest in acting and the theater grew. In 1740, two comic pieces he had written appeared on stage, and he acted the title role in an amateur performance of Henry Fielding’s The Mock Doctor. The respectable career in the wine trade wished for by his family became less and less attractive to him..." [4]

"It is to such men as David Garrick that the stage is indebted for a great portion of that respectability which it at present exhibits and for the removal of those prejudices which were formerly attached to the theatrical character amounting almost to a positive exclusion from any intercourse with the respectable classes of society By his unwearied exertions, supported by a correct and classical taste, the drama became purified of those immoralities and obscenities with which our forefathers disfigured it; and to the credit of Garrick it must be recorded that, during his theatrical administration, the English stage was distinguished by a purity of sentiment and an absence of a great part of that licentiousness, which the depraved fashion of the earlier periods had introduced. He made the stage the mirror in which vice beheld its own deformity, and where virtue was made finally to triumph over oppression injustice, and tyranny.

David Garrick was the son of Peter Garrick, a captain in the army, who generally resided at Litchfield, and who was absent on a recruiting party at Hereford when his son David was born, who, as appears by the register of All Saints, in that city, was baptized February 20th 1716.

His mother was Arabella Clough, daughter of the Rev William Clough, one of the vicars in Litchfield Cathedral..." [5]

"The Glasshouse Street Leicester Fields and Le Tabernacle Registers are supplied with a neatly written index... Amongst the baptisms in these Registers are to be found those of some of the members of the Guarriques family the grandparents of David Garrick whose histrionic abilities were doubtless due in no small degree to his French descent... Pierre Bouffard sieur de la Garrigue was the head of this family and their ancestral home was near Castre." [6]

"It should be noted that in Garrick 's veins there flowed but little Anglo-Saxon blood. His mother, a Miss Arabella Clough, was of Irish descent; his father, Peter Garrick, an officer ia a dragoon regiment, was the eldest son of a French Huguenot, who had left his native town of Bordeaux at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and had established himself as a merchant at London. Some would see in this union of Gallic and Gaelic elements the source of the sprightliness and vivacity which later distinguished David Garrick. His education and surroundings were, however, purely English; and though he had little trace of the insularity which characterized the true John Bull of the period, his inclinations and prejudices, as shown in his correspondence, were British. One may claim as British, too, the poignant force of his tragic acting. Certainly, the combination of characteristics conferred by his birth and up-bringing did much to make him the fine actor he was... Garrick was admired by all who knew him. The Frenchmen he met regretted that the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes had deprived the French stage of such an ornament ; and even twelve years later Gibbon could assure his friend that the salons of Paris still resounded with the name and the praises of Mr. Garrick..." [7]


  1. "Wikipedia: 'David Garrick'"
  2. "The Life of David Garrick: From Original Family Papers, and Numerous Published and Unpublished Sources, Volume 1', by Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald; Tinsley Brothers; London, England; 1868."
  3. "'A Dictionary of English Surnames', by Percy Hide Reaney; Richard Middlewood Wilson, Ed.; Psychology Press; London, UK & New York, USA; 1991, p. 1276."
  4. "Folgerpedia: 'David Garrick, 1717–1779: A Theatrical Life'"
  5. "The Historical Gallery of Celebrated Men [featuring Artists of the First Celebrity, Accompanied by Biographical Sketches and Observations on Their Character and Writings: David Garrick, by Robert Huish; Thomas Kelly; London, England;1830, p. 55"]
  6. "'Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London, Volume 3'; Huguenot Society of London; London, UK; 1892, p. 394."
  7. "A cosmopolitan actor, David Garrick and his French friends', by Frank Arthur Hedgecock; S. Paul & Co; London, UK; 1912, pp. 17-18, 227."

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Images: 3
Eva Marie Veigel and David Garrick
Eva Marie Veigel and David Garrick

A Literary Party at Sir Joshua Reynolds'
A Literary Party at Sir Joshua Reynolds'


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