Richard Griffith

1704-1788; b. in Dublin, grandson of a rector in Coleraine, Co. Derry, educated TCD, Schol., 1719; BA 1721; MA 1724; lived in Wales, farmed in Co. Kilkenny, and later settled in Naas, Co. Kildare, as ‘a poor Irish gentleman’ [ODNB]; collaborated with Elizabeth Griffith [née the same, Wales], his fiancée, in writing Series of Genuine Letters between Henry and Frances, followed by the sequels, Delicate Distress (1769) and The Gordian Knot (1770), respectively by “Frances” and “Henry”; also a novel, The Triumvirate (1764), deemed bawdy, and a comedy, Variety (1782), acted eight times at Drury Lane; MP for Askeaton in the Irish Parliament, as was his son and namesake (q.v.); his grandson was Sir Richard Griffith (q.v.); his wife died at their home Millicent, at Bennetsbridge, Co. Kilkenny, 1793; Hubert Butler [q.v.] inherited their house. ODNB PI DIW OCIL

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Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish and Fior-Ghael (Amsterdam, 1986), Mrs Griffith, The Platonic Wife (1765) contrasts the Irish servant Patrick’s loyalty with the perfidy of the French chambermaid Fontange. Patrick serves Mr. Frankland, Fontange serves Emilia. Fontange betrays her mistress to Frankland, but Patrick reveals his evil intent, and is promised a joyful repatriation as fitting reward. (Leerssen , p.151.)

Hubert Butler, who inherited and occupied their Kilkenny home, explores Genuine Letters between Henry and Frances (1757) the novel derived from their amorous correspondence in as essay-chapter of Escape from the Anthill (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1985).

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Dictionary of National Biography
cites Triumvirate as a novel and ‘a novel of loose morality’; Bergquist lists only Variety under plays for Griffith, indicating that Triumvirate was not, at least, a stage production; In BML, Triumvirate is sub-titled ‘authentic memoirs of A[ndrews], B[eville] and C[arewe], by Biograph Tryglyph’. See also ODNB, under Laurence Sterne: a piece called The Koran included in first collected edn. of Sterne’s Works (1775-95), and here dismissed as a forgery, is probably by Griffith rather than his son, to whom it has been attributed - and note bibl. reference to Richard Griffith, Posthumous Works of a late Celebrated Genius (1770).

D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912), gives biog. incl. details: MP for Askeaton; d. 1793, at Millicent. Cites Variety (1782), a comedy, and calls him the possible author of the epilogue in Matthew Concanen’s Miscellaneous Poems (1724) - more likely Thomas Griffith, the actor. No other works cited. Note that a confusion between Amyas Griffith and Richard Griffith in Poets of Ireland is resolved in Irish Book Lover, I, 196.

D. J. O’Donoghue (The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary, 1912), also lists Henry Allen Griffith, 3rd son of Richard Griffith, DL, of Millicent, Co. Kildare, and Mary [née] Hussey Burgh, 3rd dg. of Rt. Hon. Walter Hussey Burgh of Donore, Co. Kildare, Chief Baron of His Majesty's Court of Exchequer of Ireland; entered Navy at 13; retired after 18 years; followed literary pursuits as country gentlemen; moved to Sandymount for health, and d. 22 Sept. 1820; his Jerusalem Liberated [after Tasso] (Belfast 1863), published at his own request expressed in his will and testament [PI].

Peter Kavanagh, Irish Theatre (1946), Richard Griffith ?1704-1788; Variety (DL 25 Feb 1782) 1782, acted 9 times, and considered ‘uniformly dull’ by Genest. BML also holds Something New by ‘Automathes’, pseud. (1772). Henry and Frances had eds. up to 1786.

G. C. Duggan, The Stage Irishman (1937), Richard Griffith’s Variety (1782) contains an Irish gentlewoman, Lady Fallal, brought up in Mayo, wife of elderly baronet, Sir Frederick, who married her for her fortune; she is ‘a sprightly young woman with a very good fortune but a little too bustling to be elegant’. Under tuition at her husband’s request to correct her brogue by French singing lessons, she says [here quotes her remarks upon her own brogue; 229]. The prologue of this play was echoed in the epilogue of The Sultan.

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Variety (1782), Lady Fallal’s expression of pride in her brogue [ending:] ‘Soften off a little of my brogue – [...] ‘I would not part with anything I brought from my own dear country upon any account whatever, and I’d have you to know tht I think my broague, as you call it, the prettiest feather in my cap, because it tells everybody without their asking it that I am an Irish woman, and I assure you that I am prouder of that title than I am of being called my Lady Fallal [...] I don’t believe there’s a Fallal to be found in all Ireland except myself and I’m out of it.’ (1782, p.18; quoted in Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael, 1986, p.145; also in C. G. Duggan [as supra].)

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