Frederick Pilon

1750-1788; b. Cork; actor-playwright; went to Edinburgh to study medicine but neglected his lectures for theatre; moved to London for the same reason and fled to France to avoid creditors; returned when is affairs were settled, and married a Miss Drury, 1787; his plays incl. The Invasion (1778); The Fair American (1782); anon, The Drama (1755), poem; also farces and musical pieces, incl. The Liverpool Prize (1779), and The Siege of Gibraltar (1780); He Would be a Soldier (London 1780), com.; d. London and bur. at Lambeth. RR ODNB PI DIW.



Peter Kavanagh, Irish Theatre (1946), Frederick Pilon 1750-1788; 13 pieces, mostly farces; The Invasion or A Trip to Brighthelmstone (CG 4 Nov 1778) 1788; The Liverpool Prize (CG 22 Feb 1779) 1779, repeated 17 times; Illumination or The Glazier’s Conspiracy, prelude (CG 12 April 1779) 1799, 8 nights, concerning acquittal of Admiral Keppel; Thedevice or The Deaf Doctor (CG 27 Sept 1779) Larpent MS, revised as The Deaf Lover (CG 2 Fe 1780); The Siege of Gibraltar, op. farce (CG 25 Apr 1780 and 5 nights) 1780, mus. William Shield; The Humours of an Election (CG 19 Oct 1780, and 14 nights), formerly acted as The Close of the Poll, or The Humours of an Election; Thelyphthora or More Wives than One, farce (CG 8 Mar 1781, 2 nights), ridiculing Dr Martin Madan’s Thelphthora, an apology for polygamy; The Fair American, com. op. (DL 18 May 1782, and 7 nights) 1785, plag. from Hull’s alteration of Sir Samuel Tuke’s Adventures of Five Hours, with mus. by T. Carter; Aerostation or the Templar’s Stratagem (CG 29 Oct 1784) 1784, a satire on balloons; Barataria or Sancho Turn’d Governor (CG 29 Mar 1785) 1793, became a stock piece, based on Durfey’s plays on Don Quixote; All’s Well that Ends Well (Hay 26 July 1785), unprinted alteration of Shakespeare; He Would be a Soldier, com. (CG 18 Nov 1786; 23 nights in the season) 1786; unfinished com. The Ward in Chancery, possibly finished as The Toy or Hampton Court Frolics, by John O’Keeffe, though this is denied by the latter in Recollections.

Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986), makes brief reference to The Siege of Gibraltar (1780).


Dictionary of National Biography, actor and dramatist, first appeared Edinburgh, and drifted to London to write clever ephemeral plays after 1778. He Would be a Soldier achieved considerable success in Covent Garden (premier 18 Nov. 1786). Earlier successes include The Invasion, or a Trip to Brighthelmstone (1778). NOTE PI, d. London, April 1779. See Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.464.

Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies, Vol.II [of 2] (London & Dublin 1821)

A DRAMATIC author just above mediocrity, was a native of Cork, and was sent at a proper age to complete his studies at Edinburgh, where, feeling a genius for indolence instead of application, he neglected his anatomical lectures, and determined to embrace the profession of an actor, for which (as might naturally be imagined) he had not one requisite. This he was convinced of on his first night’s display. He soon after visited London, and went through all the difficulties usually attendant on literary adventurers. At length, after having got entangled in pecuniary embarrassments, Pilon was obliged to fly to France. During his absence, however, his affairs were accommodated, and on his return to England he married Miss Drury, of Kingston, (1787,) and died January 19, 1788, and lies buried at Lambeth.
 He wrote a pamphlet, entitled “A Critical Essay on Hamlet, as performed by Mr. Henderson,” which procured him the patronage of Mr. Colman, and under his auspices his pieces met the public eye. He wrote the popular farce of “The Deaf Lover,” and the celebrated comedy “He Would Be a Soldier” and eleven other dramatic pieces.
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