Thomas Hailes Lacy (1809-1873)

Dictionary of National Biography Entry

Thomas Hailes Lacy (1809-1873), actor and theatrical publisher, was born in 1809, and from an early age was connected with the theatrical profession. His first recorded appearance in London was on Easter Monday 1828 at the Olympic Theatre, as Lenoir in the "Foundling of the Forest". After being manager for Montague Penley at the Windsor Theatre, he succeeded to the lesseeship, and in 1841 became manager of the Theatre Royal, Sheffield. Here in January 1842 he married Frances Dalton Cooper of Covent Garden Theatre, and in May he played Jacques in "As You Like It" to his wife's Rosalind, Gustavus Vaughan Brooke being the Orlando. Next year Lacy included Nottingham and Doncaster theatres in his circuit. In May 1844 he joined S. Phelps and Mrs. Warner at Sadler's Wells, acting on the opening night Banquo to Phelps's Macbeth. At the end of the year he went with his wife on a provincial tour. He then withdrew from the stage and entered into business as a theatrical bookseller, first in 1849 at 17 Wellington Street, Strand, London, and from 1857 at 89 Strand. He soon commenced publishing acting editions of dramas. "Lacy's Acting Edition of Plays", published between 1848 and 1873, ran to ninety-nine volumes, and contained 1,485 pieces. He was also the proprietor of "John Cumberland's British Theatre" (399 dramas contained in forty-eight volumes), and of "Cumberland's Minor Theatre" (152 plays in sixteen volumes). He retired in the spring of 1873, when his business was transferred to Samuel French of New York. He died at Benhill Street, Sutton, Surrey, 1 Aug. 1873, aged 64, and was buried at Sutton Church on 6 Aug. He left 8,000 l. to the General Theatrical Fund. His library was sold 24-29 Nov. 1873 for 2,650 l., and his theatrical portraits on 8 Dec. for 1,970 l.

Lacy was the author of: 1. "The Pickwickians", a drama in three acts, 1837; 2. (with Thomas Higgie) "The Tower of London", a drama, 1840; 3. (with Dennis Lawler) "The School for Daughters", a comedy in three acts, 1843; 4. (with Thomas Higgie) "Martin Chuzzlewit", a drama in three acts, 1844; 5. (with John Courtney) "Clarissa Harlowe", a tragic drama in three acts, 1846; 6. "A Silent Woman", a farce, 1851; 7. (with Thomas Higgie) "Belphegor, or the Mountebank", a drama from the French of E. Philippe and M. Tournier, 1851; 8. "Jeanette's Wedding Day", a farce from "Les Noces de Jeanette", 1855. He edited "The Comic Reciter", 1864, and "The Dramatic Reciter", 1866, and many collections of costume plates (1865, 1868, and 1872).

His wife, Frances Dalton Lacy (1819-1872), a capable and intelligent actress, was born in London in 1819, and at the age of fourteen played at the Reading Theatre as Sophia in the "Road to Ruin". Her first appearance in London was at the Haymarket on 16 April 1838 as Lydia in the "Love Chase". She became a member of Madame Vestris's company at Covent Garden, 7 Sept. 1840, and after remaining there for three years went to Sadler's Wells, where she held a prominent position for several seasons. Mrs. Lacy died at 89 Strand, London, 23 April 1872.

DNB, signed 'G.C.B.'

Obituaries appear, (Frances Dalton Lacy) Era, 28 April 1872, p. 11; (Thomas Hailes Lacy) Era, 10 August 1873, p. 11, 30 Nov. 1873, p. 7; Illustrated London News, 20 Sept. 1873, p. 279.

(c) Richard Pearson, 2007