Born in 1766, Mrs. Francis began her career in America in the afterpiece Who’s the Dupe as Doiley at the New Theatre, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia in February of 1794.[i] There are indications that Mrs. Francis was an Eleanor Slater who married a William “Billy” Francis at St. Marylebone Church February 15th, 1786.[ii] Before arriving in America, the Francis’ appeared to have performed in some locations in the U.K., such as a performance at Crow Street in Dublin the summer of 1792.[iii]
It seems that Mr. and Mrs. Francis, while not very acclaimed performers, were solid in their abilities and benevolent in their private lives, as recorded by Ireland:
“Dunlap speaks of Mrs. Francis as always respectable in her profession, and in private life a model of cheerful benevolence. Having no children, Mr. and Mrs. Francis adopted and educated several orphans who lived to attest their parental care and beneficence. The forte of Mrs. Francis was in old women, and in certain characters of broad humor, such as Clementina Allspice, Sally Downright, Mrs. Candour, Nelly, (No Song) Beatrice, (Anatomist) &c., in which at the time she was unsurpassed.”[iv]
Following her time in New York, she went on to live and perform in Philadelphia for some time, and then passed away at the age of 68 in 1834.[v]
[i] Phillip Highfill., Kalman A. Burnim, and Edward A. Langhans. A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800.Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973. Print. 391-392.
[ii] Highfill, 390.
[iii] Highfill, 291.
[iv] Joseph Norton Ireland. Records of the New York Stage from 1750 to 1860. New York: B. Blom, 1966. Print. 163.
[v] Ireland, 163.
By: Drew Smith