Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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SIDDONS , SARAH ( 1755 - 1831 ), actress ;

b. 5 July 1755 at ‘ The Shoulder of Mutton ’ (now ‘ The Siddons ’), Brecon , the eldest of eleven children of Roger Kemble and Sarah Ward . Both parents were members of John Ward 's band of strolling players that had recently performed at Brecon . The company continued to play on both sides of the Welsh border, and Sarah 's early years were spent with them. William Siddons , a Walsall man who had played in the Chester theatre in May 1772 , joined Kemble 's company soon afterwards, but his wish to marry Sarah was opposed by her parents and by a Brecon gentleman, named Evans . Siddons appealed in verse to the Brecon audience and was dismissed from the company. He m. Sarah Kemble at Coventry on 26 Nov. 1773 . Mrs. Siddons 's successful career is well known — a detailed account is given in the sources at the end of this article. She d. from erysipelas on 8 June 1831 . After her early years, her connections with Wales were limited to occasional visits to Brynbella , in the vale of Clwyd , the home of her friend, Mrs. Piozzi . Her sister Julia Anne Hatton , and her brother Charles Kemble , are separately noted.


  • Register of S. Mary's, Brecon;
  • Adam's Weekly Courant (London, 1770-80) , 19 May 1772 ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • T. Campbell , Life of Mrs. Siddons (London, 1834) , 1839 ;
  • Yvonne French , Mrs. Siddons, Tragic Actress (London, 1936) , 1936 ;
  • Cecil Price , The English Theatre in Wales in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (Cardiff, 1948) (Univ. of Wales Press, 1948 ).


Cecil John Layton Price, Ph.D. (1915-91), Aberystwyth / Swansea

Published date: 1959