Read MR. GEORGE LILLO of The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) Vol. V, free online book, by Theophilus Cibber, on

Was by profession a jeweller.  He was born in London, on the 4th of Fe.  He lived, as we are informed, near Moorgate, in the same neighbourhood where he received his birth, and where he was always esteemed as a person of unblemished character.  ’Tis said, he was educated in the principles of the dissenters:  be that as it will, his morals brought no disgrace on any sect or party.  Indeed his principal attachment was to the muses.

His first piece, brought on the stage, was a Ballad Opera, called Sylvia; or, The Country Burial; performed at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn Fields, but with no extraordinary success, in the year 1730.  The year following he brought his play, called The London Merchant; or, The True Story of George Barnwell, to Mr. Cibber junior; (then manager of the summer company, at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane) who originally played the part of Barnwell. The author was not then known.  As this was almost a new species of tragedy, wrote on a very uncommon subject, he rather chose it should take its fate in the summer, than run the more hazardous fate of encountering the winter criticks.  The old ballad of George Barnwell (on which the story was founded) was on this occasion reprinted, and many thousands sold in one day.  Many gaily-disposed spirits brought the ballad with them to the play, intending to make their pleasant remarks (as some afterwards owned) and ludicrous comparisons between the antient ditty and the modern drama.  But the play was very carefully got up, and universally allowed to be well performed.  The piece was thought to be well conducted, and the subject well managed, and the diction proper and natural; never low, and very rarely swelling above the characters that spoke.  Mr. Pope, among other persons, distinguished by their rank, or particular publick merit, had the curiosity to attend the performance, and commended the actors, and the author; and remarked, if the latter had erred through the whole play, it was only in a few places, where he had unawares led himself into a poetical luxuriancy, affecting to be too elevated for the simplicity of the subject.  But the play, in general, spoke so much to the heart, that the gay persons before mentioned confessed, they were drawn in to drop their ballads, and pull out their handkerchiefs.  It met with uncommon success; for it was acted above twenty times in the summer season to great audiences; was frequently bespoke by some eminent merchants and citizens, who much approved its moral tendency:  and, in the winter following, was acted often to crowded houses:  And all the royal family, at several different times, honoured it with their appearance.  It gained reputation, and brought money to the poet, the managers, and the performers.  Mr. Cibber, jun. not only gave the author his usual profits of his third days, &c. but procured him a benefit-night in the winter season, which turned out greatly to his advantage; so that he had four benefit-nights in all for that piece; by the profits whereof, and his copy-money, he gained several hundred pounds.  It continued a stock-play in Drury-Lane Theatre till Mr. Cibber left that house, and went to the Theatre in Covent-Garden.  It was often acted in the Christmas and Easter holidays, and judged a proper entertainment for the apprentices, &c. as being a more instructive, moral, and cautionary drama, than many pieces that had been usually exhibited on those days, with little but farce and ribaldry to recommend them.

A few years after, he brought out his play of The Christian Hero at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane.

And another Tragedy called Elmerick.

His tragedy of three acts, called Fatal Curiosity, founded on an old
English story, was acted with success at the Hay-Market, in 1737.

He wrote another tragedy, never yet acted, called Arden of Feversham.

He was a man of strict morals, great good-nature, and sound sense, with an uncommon share of modesty.

He died Sep. 1739. and was buried in the vault of Shoreditch church.