The Village Lawyer

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The Village Lawyer is a farce, in two acts. Generally attributed to William Macready (the Elder), though this is far from certain.

The original text

Erroneously attributed to the William Macready in a pirated edition, and since printed as such (with tacit collusion by Macready, according to Oxberry[1]), the play is actually an adaptation of L'Avocat Pathelin by David-Augustin de Brueys (1641–1723)[2] in 1706, the translation being attributed to either George Colman the Elder, or Charles Lyons. De Brueys had based his own play on La Farce de Maître Pierre Pathelin ("The Farce of Master Pierre Pathelin"), the very popular medieval farce, written by an anonymous author in 1457.

The Village Lawyer performed at the Theatre-Royal, Haymarket, 28 August 1787.

Printed inter alia in 1795, in 1801 (P. Byrne) and in 1819 (R. Grace) - all attributed to Macready.

Throughout his 1928 thesis F.C.L. Bosman (1928), goes a step further and mistakenly attributes the play to "Mrs Macready".

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1813: Performed Saturday 14 July by the Garrison Players in the African Theatre, under the leadership of Mr Cuerton, as afterpiece to a Harlequin Pantomime, devised by Mr Cuerton.

1813: Performed again on Saturday 23 October and Saturday 6 November by the Garrison Players in the African Theatre, still under the leadership of Mr Cuerton, with Robinson Crusoe, or Harlequin Friday (Sheridan) as afterpiece.

1816: Performed on 20 January and 3 February by the Garrison Players in the African Theatre, in aid of the Waterloo Subscription, as afterpiece to The Castle Spectre (Lewis). Possibly played once more on 17 August, 1816.

1823: Performed on 27 May by the Garrison Amateur Company in the African Theatre, as afterpiece to The Heir at Law (Colman Jr).

1846: Performed on Thursday 20 August, probably by All the World's a Stage, in the Victoria Theatre in Hoop Street, as afterpiece to Who's Who? or The Double Imposture (Poole) and the interlude Fortune's Frolic.


Oxberry's dramatic biography and histrionic anecdotes, ed. and published by C.E. Oxberry, 1826: p.38, see Footnote on William Macready[3]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [4]: pp. 144-5, 149, 184, 415.

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