James Townley - Encyclopedia

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JAMES TOWNLEY (1714-1778), English dramatist, second son of Charles Townley, merchant, was born in London on the 6th of May 1714. Educated at Merchant Taylors' School and at St John's College, Oxford, he took holy orders, being ordained priest on the 28th of May 1738. He was lecturer at St Dunstan's in the East, chaplain to the lord mayor, then under-master at Merchant Taylors' School until 1753, when he became grammar master at Christ's Hospital. In 1760 he became head master of Merchant Taylors' School, where in 1762 and 1763 he revived the custom of dramatic performances. He retained his headmastership until his death on the 5th of July 1778. He took a keen interest in the theatre, and it has been asserted that many of David Garrick's best productions and revivals owed much to his assistance. He was the author, although the fact was long concealed, of High Li f e below Stairs, a two-act farce presented at Drury Lane on the 31st of October 175g; also of False Concord (Covent Garden, March 20, 1764) and The Tutor (Drury Lane, Feb. 4, 1765).

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