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Past Exhibition of the Month - October 2021

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'Done in the Year 1754'

'Done in the Year 1754'

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George Hendrick known as Crazy Crow (d. Dublin, 1762)

With look ferocious, and with Beer replete,
See crazy Crow beneath his Minstrel weight,
His voice a frightfull as great Ætna's roar,
(Which spreads it's Horrors to the distant shore,)
Equaly hideous with his well known Face
Murders each Ear_'till whiskey makes it cease.

[Verse from base of print]

'CROW was one of those appendages to the theatre that are constantly in requisition to carry messages, light fires, and render themselves useful to the manager, prompter, and the performers in general; and, notwithstanding his dissonant voice, and ferocious aspect, he contrived to keep his post, and gain a comfortable livelihood; independent of a regular salary, he, from time to time, picked up considerable sums of money by messages, and carrying to and from the theatre the instruments of the musicians.

He is represented in the print with a violin in his right hand, a trumpet in his left, a French-horn round his neck, a bass-viol on his back, and a pair of drum-sticks in his girdle.  In the London theatres employment is found for two or three persons throughout the season, to convey the calls for rehearsals to the different performers, from one end of the town to the other; and, in case of the indisposition of a principal performer, one of these mercuries is dispatched in every direction to ferret out a sufficient substitute.  West, formerly footman to Baddeley the comedian, and Applebee, that was to have accompanied Arnold in his aërial tour, are the present persons who conduct the calls of Drury-lane theatre, and pick up many stray shillings and half-crowns from the performers on several occasional services they render them.  Crow, Porter to the Irish play-house, lived about the middle of the reign of George the Second.'

From James Caulfield's Portraits, Memoirs, and Characters, of Remarkable Persons, from the Revolution in 1688 to the end of the Reign of George II. Collected from the most authentic accounts extant. London, 1820.

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

Plate from the above publication. Engraved by Robert Grave (1798-1873)

We read in J. T. Gilbert's A History of the City of Dublin (Dublin, 1859) that 'In Swan-alley were several gambling houses, frequented by sharpers and gamblers.  George Hendrick, alias "Crazy Crow," porter to several of the bands of musicians in town, and one of the most eccentric of the notorious Dublin low-life characters of his day, dropped dead in this alley in 1762.  He had been fined and imprisoned in 1742, for having stolen corpses from St. Andrew's church-yard; a large and spirited full-length etching, representing him laden with musical instruments, appeared in 1754, and was sold through town by himself.'

The Dublin Courier, 15 September 1762 reported 'The noted George Hendrick, otherwise Crow, who drank so immoderately of whiskey, a few days since, that he seemed to have made his quietus, came to himself, after a nap of 24 hours.'