Eliza O’Neill (1791-1872)

Notes


Life
[later Lady Becher;] b. Drogheda, Co. Louth, dg. of actor-manager in Co. Louth; played Belfast, Dublin, and then appeared successfully as Juliet in Covent Garden, 6 Oct. 1814, followed by five years of unbroken success; tragic and comic actress, especially admired for her Grecian profile; m. William Becher, MP for Mallow and landlord there, who was created baronet in 1831;
 
an unflatteringly portrait emphasising her brogue and her reputed avarice was written by Thackeray in his Irish Sketch-book (1843) after her marriage and retirement; the reputation for avarice probably based on the fact that she bargained with the impresario who brought her from Ireland to take with her some indigent relations, whom she supported; there is a portrait in the National Portrait Collection [London] by Dublin-trained painter Thomas Clement Thompson (c.1780-1856). DIB OXTH

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References
Phyllis Hartnoll, ed., Oxford Companion to Theatre (Oxford: Clarendon 1988), notes that she first appeared on stage at her birthplace, Drogheda, where her father was actor-manager; Belfast, Dublin; Covent Garden, 18i4, first appearing as Juliet with overwhelming success; also successful as Lady Teazle in School for Scandal; last appearance as Mrs Haller in Kotzebue’s The Stranger, 13 July 1819; retired on marriage to William (later Sir) Becher.

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Notes
Prince Puckler-Müskau: she met and was admired by Prince Herman Furst Puckler-Müskau (1785-1987), who inspired Coutn Smorltolk in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and is remembered for landscape gardening on his Saxony estate and an ice-cream he devised which is named after him; he also wrote on Ireland noting, ‘die rucksichslose Vertreibung der Landbervokerung in Irland durch englische Adelige, die in Ireand die Schafzucht intensivierten.’ He also pioneered the use of carbon paper. (Information supplied by Michael Drury, Brussels, 27 Sept. 2010.)

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