Charles Napier

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Charles Napier (17**-18**) was an officer in the the Royal Artillery of the British Garrison and an amateur actor.

Referred to as Mr Napier, Lieutenant Charles Napier and Captain Napier on occasion.


Born in Tintinhull, Somerset, England, he came to South Africa as an officer in the the Royal Artillery of the British Garrison (as Lieutenant 1806-12 and as Captain 1812-13). He is listed among the South African settlers on the South African Settlers Resource Site[1], so he apparently settled in the Cape, having married Maria, the daughter of W. S. van Ryneveld, President of the Court of Justice in the Colony.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Napier was one of founder members and regular performers for the English Amateurs ("All the World's a Stage") from 1807 onwards.

He tended to specialize in young roles, and was particularly highly regarded for his young female roles, and he is specifically mentioned by Fletcher (1994, pp. 35-42, 53-4) in 1807 for the roles of "Miss Hardcastle" in She Stoops to Conquer , "Lydia" in The Rivals, "Charlotte Rusport" in The West Indian, "Princess Huncamunca" in Tom Thumb, "Anna" in The Tragedy of Douglas, "Charlotte" in Love à la Mode, "Miss Kitty Sprightly All the World's a Stage, "Kitty" in Abroad and at Home, "Sophia" in The Brothers (Cumberland), with unspecified roles in The Old Maid and High Life Below Stairs. He also read an address - written by Captain Frazer - in his role as "Cherry"which he on 8 August, 1807, during a performance of The Beaux Stratagem.

In 1808 he is still active on the stage, mentioned for instance as "Amelia Wildenheim" in Lover's Vows and "Peggy" in Raising the Wind, after which he disappears from the Cape stage.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [2]: pp.72-74,

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg: pp. 35-53

South African Settlers Resource Site at

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