24 September 2012 /

Finding Sampson Penley

This is the title of a new book from STR member Alan Stockwell. Sampson Penley founded his theatre company (The Jonas & Penley Company of Comedians, self-grandiloquently called “His Majesty’s Servants of the Theatre Royal Windsor”) in the last decade of the 18th century and built up a circuit of provincial theatres mainly in Kent and Sussex.

His was the first troupe to visit the continent in 1814 after the retreat of Napoleon, and in 1825 he headed the first English actors to play in Paris since Elizabethan times, a debacle which resulted in the army invading the theatre to quell the resulting riot!

The father of seven children who all became actors or managers themselves, Penley, forced into bankruptcy in 1822, ended his days selling potted shrimps.

The book – covering a half-century and two generations of the Penley family – is available from Amazon. Further information on