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John Brougham is Born

Today in Masonic History John Brougham is born in 1814.

John Brougham was an Irish actor and playwright.

Brougham was born in Dublin on May 9th, 1814. His father passed away when he was young, leaving his mother penniless. He also had two siblings who passed away. Because of his mother's penniless situation, he was sent to live with the family of his uncle. Eventually he attended Dublin University where he studied the classics. It was also at Dublin University where he got his first taste of acting. Along with others at the University they formed an informal performance troop where they selected parts by drawing out of a hat. Brougham stayed away from the bigger roles and traded them away when he got them so he could focus on his education.

Brougham was on a path to become a surgeon when his uncle passed away forcing him to fend for himself financially. He left the university and moved to London. He had no money and his only possessions were some higher end clothing. At first he attempted to become a cadet with the East India Company. He was talked out of joining by the recruiter who gave him a guinea and told him to seek other employment.

Brougham went to Tottenham Theatre, now Prince of Wale's Theatre where he met Madame Vestris a popular actress at the time. He became friends with her and through her began working at the theatre. Around 1831 he made his first stage appearance in London. As part of Madame Vestris company, he began writing his first plays. Due to his taking of small or "low" comic roles he got the nickname "Little Johnny Brougham." The nickname endeared him to working class audiences.

In 1842 Brougham moved to the United States. In the United States he had a varying success. Most of the plays he wrote were successful, although on the theatre management side he was less than successful. Several theatres he opened were unsuccessful.

In 1860, just before the American Civil War, Brougham returned to London and remained until the end of the American Civil War. When he returned to New York City he again tried to open another theatre and again was unsuccessful. In 1879 he made his appearance on stage.

On June 7th, 1880 Brougham passed away.

Brougham was a member of Antiquity Lodge No. 11 in New York City, New York.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.