John Beard - Actor and Singer at Covent Garden

John Beard

Born ca. 1717
Died Feb 05, 1791

Alias: 

Beard of Covent Garden

Biography: 

Married (1738-9?) to Henriette Herbert (ca. 1717-1753), daughter of the 1st Earl of Waldegrave. Married (1759) to Charlotte Rich (ca. 1726-1818).

Beard's acting career began on August 30, 1737, when he first appeared at Covent Garden in Coffey's The Devil to Pay. He took a break from acting from ca. 1738 to 1743, but returned to star as MacHeath in The Beggar's Opera, a role which he played frequently and with great success at least until ca. 1760. In 1761 he inherited a part of the shares in Covent Garden, following the death of his father-in-law John Rich, and became it's manager as well. Beard was popular and well respected in his own time, and Händel composed the main tenor part of Messias specifically for Beard who was a great singer. He was even the sometime president of the Beefsteak Club.1

  • 1. Main source for the biograpy is Beard's entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Life with Boswell: 

Boswell met Beard at a meeting of the Beefsteak Club on November 27, 1762. Boswell was not himself a member, but was taken to one of their suppers by Lord Eglinton. Boswell's interest in the theater taken into consideration, it seems strange that Beard is only mentioned this one time in his journal.