Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jean Davenport, born May 3, 1829

Jean Margaret Davenport was born May 3, 1829, in Wolverhampton, England.  Her father was a lawyer, but he left the bar for the stage, and became the manager of the  Richmond Theatre in the London borough of Richmond Upon Thames.

Richmond Theatre
Jean made her first professional appearance at the Richmond Theatre at the age of 8, in 1837, as Little Pickle in The Manager's Daughter.  She also played in King Richard the Third.

National Theatre, New York City
She played in other cities prior to traveling to the United States of America in 1838.  Her first appearance in the U.S. occurred at the National Theatre, New York, under the management of James William Wallack, the Elder. Afterward she played star engagements in other cities. 

James William Wallack, the Elder
In 1842 she returned to Europe and traveled in Italy and France.  Her education was conducted by private tutors.  In Paris, she studied music under the tuition of Manuel Garcia.  
 Manuel Garcia

In 1846 she went to the Netherlands, taking an English company, with which she acted in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague.  They also performed in Germany at Hamburg and Hanover.  The tour continued for two years and was remunerative. 

In England in 1848 she made her appearance as a public reader, being one of the first females to give readings from Shakespeare.  

Her second visit to America was made in 1849, and she determined to make it her home.

She was 32 years old when the Civil War began.

Cincinnati, Ohio, 1850
Her father died at Cincinnati, Ohio on July 5, 1851.  The following year, she returned to England to settle the affairs of her parent's estate and to study for the next dramatic season.

In 1853, she returned to her adopted country, then made her first visit to California in 1855.   She  traveled to England a few times between 1856 and 1859. 

On October 12, 1860, she married in San Francisco, California.  Her husband was the transcontinental explorer and civil engineer, Frederick Lander.  Her married life was happy, but brief; the Civil War began five months after their wedding, and Lander joined the Union Army.  He published a popular poem on the Battle of Ball's Bluff, as well as other patriotic poems that drew national attention.

Frederick Lander
During the early part of the Civil War, Lander served with distinction on secret missions as a volunteer aide de camp on the staff of General George McClellan.  He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on May 17, 1861 and served on the staff of General  Thomas Morris during the battles of Philippi and Rich Mountain, as well as many minor skirmishes.
At the conclusion of the Western Virginia campaign, General Lander was assigned to command a brigade in Charles Stone's Division of the Army of the Potomac.  After a short time in command of a brigade, he was assigned to command the District of Harpers Ferry, where he was involved in an engagement the day after the Battle of Ball's Bluff in October 1861.  He was badly wounded in the leg. 

He was then given the command of a division in the Army of the Potomac with the task of protecting the upper Potomac River.  When Confederate forces under Stonewall Jackson bombarded Hancock, Maryland, Lander refused to surrender the town, forcing the Confederates to withdraw towards West Virginia.  He led a successful charge against a Confederate camp at Bloomery Gap on February 14, 1862. 

About two weeks later he was stricken by a "congestive chill."  Lander died from complications of pneumonia at Camp Chase, Paw Paw, Virginia (later West Virginia) on March 2, 1862.

Beaufort, South Carolina
For two years, Jean Lander served as a supervisor in charge of the nurses working in the Union Army hospitals at Beaufort, South Carolina.

Union Army Hospital, Beaufort, South Carolina
On February 5, 1865, Jean Davenport Lander resumed her acting career, performing at Niblo's Garden Theatre in New York City.  

Niblo's Garden Theatre in New York City
Her performance of Queen Elizabeth was first seen at the National Theatre, Washington, D.C. in April 1867.  She was the original representative, in America, of Marguerite Gauthier, a part which she named Camille.  

Autographed Card of Jean M. Davenport Lander in Scarlet Letter Costume
Her last appearance was made at the Boston Theatre, January 1, 1877, in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.

The later years of her life were passed in retirement, in Washington, D.C.  Her house stood where the Supreme Court building is now located.  She presented a Tiffany window to St. Mark's Church on Capitol Hill.

She died in Washington, D.C. on  August 3, 1903, aged 74.  She was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in that city.

Grave of Jean Margaret Davenport Lander

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