Actors, Musicians and Theatre Personalities with Scottish Links ~ Daniel Terry ~ 1789 - 1829


Daniel Terry (1789 - 1829)

Daniel Terry, (1789 - 1829) by Henry William Pickersgill (English, 1782 - 1875), Oil on canvas, 76.20 x 63.50 cm.  Original in the collections of the National Galleries of Scotland. Purchased 1983.  [Image in the public domain.]

Daniel Terry was a brilliant actor and playwright, who was renowned in Scotland for his stage adaptations of Sir Walter Scott’s novels.   He was almost as well known in Edinburgh as in London, and was highly respected in both places.

On 12 March 1816 Guy Mannering, a musical adaptation by Terry of Scott's novel, was seen for the first time; this appears to have been the first of Terry's adaptations from Scott.   At Covent Garden on 17 April 1819 he was the first David Deans in his own adaptation of The Heart of Midlothian.

Terry married his first wife in Liverpool and on 25 June 1815 married Elizabeth Wemyss Nasmyth (1793–1862) , the daughter of the painter Alexander Nasmyth. Mrs Terry—who, after Terry's death, married the lexicographer Charles Richardson—was herself an artist, and took some share in the decoration of Scott's home, Abbotsford.

Terry's architectural knowledge was of great use to Scott, who consulted him while building Abbotsford; he also consulted Terry on many literary questions, especially in regard to plays, and seems to have trusted him with revising The Doom of Devorgoil for the stage. It seems likely that Terry was responsible for many of the numerous adaptations of Scott that saw the light between the appearance of Waverley and the actor's death. He also compiled The British Theatrical Gallery (1825), a collection of full-length portraits with biographical notes.

Terry took a financial stake in Ballantynes, Scott’s publishers.  When their business failed, Scott was saddled with his liability (£1,750).

In October 1825, in association with his friend Frederick Henry Yates, he became manager of the Adelphi, opening in a piece called ‘Killigrew’, followed by Fitzball's adaptation, ‘The Pilot,’ in which Terry was the Pilot.  He also appeared in other parts. Subsequently, Terry's financial affairs became so involved that he was obliged to retire from management, and he suffered a breakdown.

After leaving the Adelphi he temporarily retired to the continent, and then re-engaged at Drury Lane playing Polonius.   Finding himself unable to act, and his memory gone, he gave up his engagement.

NOTE:  The Sans Pareil Theatre of London opened in 1806 and was renamed the Adelphi Theatre in 1819. Other names included: Theatre Royal, Adelphi (1829-1858).  Frederick Henry Yates managed the Adelphi Theatre with Daniel Terry in 1825. On Terry's death in 1829, he was joined by Charles Mathews.

The Harvard Theatre Collection contains correspondence of Frederick Henry Yates, Daniel Terry, Charles James Mathews and others concerning the Adelphi Theatre, financial and business records, including deeds, bonds, receipts, and correspondence concerning rent, salaries and lawsuits.

[This text based on material by Joseph Knight and Klaus Stierstorfer in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.]





Terry Anecdotes

Top ~ Letters from Sir Walter Scott 1813 ~ Letter from Sir Walter Scptt ~ The Doom of Devorgoil

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