Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Betterton, Thomas, born at Westminster in 1635, was the son of one of Charles I.'s cooks, and was apprenticed to a bookseller, who turned theatrical manager. Betterton appeared at the Cockpit in Drury Lane in 1659, and he was soon after engaged by Davenant. His abilities as a tragedian won him the patronage of the king, who sent him to see how plays were mounted in France, and shifting scenes were introduced as the result of his visit. In 1693, though his fame was at its height, he was plunged in poverty, but funds were provided to enable him to open a theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields. He does not seem to have prospered, and at the age of seventy he retired. After this he performed occasionally, and his impersonation of Hamlet was noticed in the Toiler. He died in 1710. As an interpreter of Shakespeare he undoubtedly worked upon the lines of the great master's contemporaries, and handed down the earliest traditions of the English stage, but it is impossible to form a real estimate of his merits. His friend Cibber recorded some of the events of his life.