W. R. Chetwood

Life
fl.1722-49 [William Rufus Chetwood]; London bookseller and Drury Lane prompter; The Voyages and Adventures of Captain Robert Boyle (1726), by Chetwood or Victor Benjamin, reached a ninth edition by 1781, with a popular French translation; The Stock Jobbers; or, The Humours of Change Alley (1720), comedy; South Sea, or the Biter Bit (1720), a comedy; The Lover’s Opera (1729), mus. piece; The Generous Freemason (1731), ballad opera; The Twins, or the Female Traveller (1742), a 48-page novel, by the author of voyages of Faulconer [sic], Boyle, and Vaughan; came to Dublin, probably fleeing creditors, and served as Thomas Sheridan’s stage manager at Smock Alley after 1742; his Tour through Ireland (1748) vindicated ancient and modern Irish society against English detractors; A General History of the Stage (1749) supplied information about Dublin drama in the period and before; published James Shirley’s St Patrick for Ireland (1751), and wrote other sundry works while in Ireland incl. Kilkenny; or, The Old Man’s Wish (Dublin 1748), a poem; published with 306 subcriptions Memoirs of Ben Jonson (1756), incl. some unprinted plays. ODNB PI OCIL

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Works
(of Irish concern), A Chronology of Some Remarkable Accidents (1742); A Chronology of Some Memorable Accidents (Dublin 1743); A Tour through Ireland in several entertaining letters Wherein the present state of that kingdom is consider’d: and the most noted cities, towns, seats, rivers, buildings, &c. are described ... To which is prefix’d, a description of the road from London to Holy-Head. By two English Gentlemen [i.e., Chetwood] (London: J. Roberts 1748), 246pp., 8o.; A General History of the Stage. With the Memoirs of most of the principle Performers that have appeared on the English and Irish Stage for these last Fifty Years (Printed for the Author: Dublin, 1749), 12o.; Do. (London: W. Owen 1749), 259pp., 12o.; Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Ben. Jonson, Esq [… &c; with] two comedies … not printed in his works … ‘The Widow’, and ‘Eastward Hoe’, 2 pt. (Dublin: W. R. Chetwood 1756), 12o. COMM, William Smith Clarke, Early Irish Theatre (1955).

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Commentary
Joep Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (Amsterdam: 1986): ‘The theatre manager and historian William Rufus Chetwood, who had employment in Dublin for a while, published A tour through Ireland in several entertaining letters in 1746, which presents a wholly new, positive enthusiasm towards the country, its landscape and its inhabitants. [...] sets out to refute ‘the strange stories delivered in old geographers, viz., Strabo, Solinus, Mela, and G. Cambriensis’ (p.74); quotes: ‘many curious and entertaining Particulars of a Kingdom, which, to my certain knowledge, has been grossly misrepresented’ ([A Chronology,] p.3). Leerssen remarks: ‘He describes an English servant as the epitome of stupid anti-Irish prejudice.’ Chetwood defended Irish claim to ancient civilisation when he gives his opinion that a Gaelic royal court, ‘was much on the same footing as her Neighbours and indeed the State of the whole Nation, What do our Barons and the Feuds differ from the petty Princes of Ireland, except in Title? We can gather from their Antiquaries, that each Monarch always entertained the following ten Officers in his Court, which (by the way) does not savour greatly of Barbairy, viz., a Lord or Prime Minister, a Judge, an Augur or Druid, a Physician, a Poet, an Antiquary or Herald, a chief Musician, and three Stewards of the Household.’ (Leerssen, p.94).

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References
British Library
holdings include [8] The Voyages and Adventures of Captain Robert Boyle, in several parts of the world. Intermix’d with the story of Mrs. Villars ... the history of an Italian captive; and the life of Don Pedro Aquilio ... To which is added, the voyage ... of Richard Castelman, etc. [By William Rufus Chetwood? or Benjamin Victor?]. The second edition. The third edition. 374pp.. John Watts: London, 1726. 8o. 374 pp. Andrew Millar: London, 1728. 8o. 350 pp. J. Watts: London, 1735. 8o. [11] A General History of the Stage, from its origin in Greece to the present time. With memoirs of most of the principal performers that have appeared on the English and Irish stage for these last fifty years, etc. [Another copy.] [Another copy.] [Another edition, with a portrait.]. 256pp. W. Owen: London, 1749. 12o. 259pp. Printed for the Author: Dublin 1749. 12o. [12] A Select Collection of Old Plays, vizt I. St Patrick for Ireland. II. Fair Em, the Millers Daughter, &c. III. The Love Sick King, &c. IV. Blurt, Master Constable. V. Actaeon and Diana. VI. Salmacida spolia. With an account of the authors by the editor W. R. Chetwood.. 6 pt. W. R. Chetwood: Dublin 1750. 12o. [13] Kilkenny: or, the Old man’s wish. [A poem.]. pp. 20. Printed for the Author: Dublin, 1748. 4o. [14] Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Ben. Jonson, Esq; Poet Laureat to King James the First, and King Charles the First. With an abstract of the lives of their favourites, Somerset and Buckingham. Collected from writings of the most eminent historians ... To which are added, two comedies, wrote by Ben. Jonson, &c. and not printed in his works, called The Widow, and Eastward Hoe, 2 pt. W. R. Chetwood: Dublin, 1756. 12o. [15] The British Theatre. Containing the lives of the English dramatic poets; with an account of all their plays. Together with the lives of most of the principal actors ... to which is prefixed, a short view of the rise and progress of the English Stage. [By William R. Chetwood.] Title [Another copy.] [Another copy.] Few MS. notes. Title [A reissue.] The British Theatre. Containing the lives of the English dramatic poets, etc. [By William Rufus Chetwood.] [Another copy.]. pp. xvi. 200. Peter Wilson: Dublin, 1750. 12o.. London: R. Baldwin, 1752. [21] A Tour through Ireland. In several entertaining letters. Wherein the present state of that kingdom is consider’d: and the most noted cities, towns, seats, rivers, buildings, &c. are described ... To which is prefix’d, a description of the road from London to Holy-Head. By two English Gentlemen. [By W. R. Chetwood?] [Another copy.]. (First part.) pp. 246. J. Roberts: London, 1748. 8o. [23] Title St Patrick for Ireland. The first Part. Title [Another copy.] St Patrick for Ireland, etc. Title [Another copy.] St Patrick for Ireland, etc. [Another edition.] Title [Another edition.] To which is prefix’d an account of the author, and his works, etc. Title [Another edition.]. Printed by J. Raworth, for J. Whitaker: London, 1640. 4o.. London, 1640. 4o.. London, 1640. 4o.. Dublin, 1750. 12o.. London reprinted, 1751. 12o. [25] itle The Voyages, Travels and Adventures, of W. O. G. V., Esq.; with the history of his brother Jonathan Vaughan, six years a slave in Tunis, etc. [A novel by W. T. Chetwood.] Title [Another edition.] The Voyages, Travels and Adventures of William Owen Gwin Vaughan, etc. [By W. R. Chetwood.] The second edition.. 2 vol. London, 1736. 12o.. pp. iv. 328. W. R. Chetwood, etc.: Dublin, 1754. 12o.. 2 vol. T. Lownds: London, 1760. 12o.

New York Public Library holds The British Theatre, Containing the Lives of the English Dramatic Poets ... with the Lives of Most of the Principal Actors (Dublin 1750, London 1752). RIA copy has no author; also, [?Chetwood, W. R.], A Tour of Ireland. In several entertaining letters, wherein the present state of that Kingdom is considered; and most of the cities, towns, seats, [etc.] described... By two English Gentlemen, 1st pt. (London 1747); do.., 2nd Edn. (Dublin 1728). Also ‘The Irish Theatre’, in Reformer, No. 10.; cited in IBL, VIII, 8. [Dix].

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Quotations
This Kingdom of Ireland, is one of the last in Europe where established theatres were erected; yet I am assur’d one of the first whose Bards, or Poets have celebrated in verse the illustrious Actions of their Monarchs, nor any Nation in the world where Poetry and Poets were in such high esteem. Every ancient and noble family had one in their Household and their Kings their poets Laureates, as we have in England but long, long before the English invaded Ireland.’ (General History, p.49; quoted in Peter Kavanagh, Irish Theatre, 1946, p.15, n.42.)

These ancient English that are planted here [Wexford], have something peculliar to themselves. The English htey speak seems to be that of Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert of Glsoter, or the Monk of Lithgate, as it is hard to be understood. The Inhabitants of Wexford indeed have it not so much; but I speak of those we meett with in the Country, and those we see at Market.’ (A Tour ..., 2nd edn., Dublin 1748, pp.168-96; cited in Russell Alspach, Irish Poetry from the Englsih Invasion to 1798, 1959, p.38.)

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Notes
Ribald version: Chetwood records a more ribald version of the commemorative poem on the death of the duke of Grafton at the siege of Cork in 1690 than that recorded in Thomas Crofton Croker’s Historical Songs of Ireland (Percy Soc. 1841; see Alspach, p.56.)

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