Mr Rathbone

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Mr Rathbone (1798?-18??) was an amateur theatre enthusiast and possible actor in Grahamstown.


Nothing is known of him at present, beyond the name mentioned by P.W. Laidler and F.C.L. Bosman.

However, a 22 year old carpenter named James Rathbone is mentioned by the Geni website[1] as arriving in Cape Town in 1820 with his wife Susanna (Burling) as part of "Willson's Party" and according to as arriving in Grahamstown in 1823[2]. Apparently he later also married an Elizabeth Willans and returned to live in the United Kingdom about 5 years after that.[3].

Given his age and his trade, this is quite possibly the same person. He would have been about 49 years of age when he is recorded as working in the theatre in Grahamstown.

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

Cited as "Rathbone" in the Prologue of a performance of The Rivals, he is reported to have helped construct the first performance space for the Grahamstown Amateur Company in 1837, performing under the motto Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense. He presumably also participated in the performances.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [4]: pp. 388.

P.W. Laidler. 1926. The Annals of the Cape Stage. Edinburgh: William Bryce.

"James Rathbone" in Geni website, at

"James Rathbone" at

"James Rathbone" at

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