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Falkner [Faulkner; married names Donaldson, Lumm], Anna Marialocked

(d. 1796/7)
  • Olive Baldwin
  •  and Thelma Wilson

Anna Maria Falkner (d. 17967)

by Andreas van der Myn

Falkner [Faulkner; married names Donaldson, Lumm], Anna Maria (d. 1796/7), singer, was said to have been the niece and adopted daughter of the Dublin publisher George Faulkner (1703?–1775). On 23 November 1745 she sang Eurydice in the pantomime afterpiece Orpheus and Eurydice (music by J. F. Lampe) at Covent Garden, billed as a young gentlewoman who 'never appear'd on any Stage before' (General Advertiser, 23 Nov 1745). She sang the role more than thirty times before the middle of May but was not advertised at Covent Garden again for nearly two years. Aided by her striking appearance—she was above average height with large dark eyes and black hair—she established her reputation as a singer at Marylebone Gardens, being an attraction there every summer from 1747 to 1752. Many songs by Thomas Augustine Arne, Willem De Fesch, Joseph Baildon, and others were published as sung by her at the gardens. De Fesch was in charge of the music at Marylebone, and she is holding his 'I sing not of battles' in her portrait by Andreas Van der Mijn.

Miss Falkner returned to Covent Garden on 13 February 1748 with two songs in Italian and Handel's 'O sleep' and ''Tis liberty'. She sang between the acts of plays, took leading roles in musical afterpieces, and played Polly in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera. Her name is in Handel's manuscript for incidental music for Alceste, never performed but recast as The Choice of Hercules and sung with Alexander's Feast in March 1751. She may have sung the music then; certainly she sang two arias from Alexander's Feast for her benefit that April. 'Amid a croud of exalted admirers and profuse offers, she kept her character unimpeached' (Trusler, 63). On 19 May 1748 she married William George Donaldson (d. 1780). Their son John was baptized in January 1752, and she did not play Polly that season although she still appeared frequently in two pantomime afterpieces.

In autumn 1752 Anna Maria went to Dublin for a season at the Smock Alley Theatre, where she appeared first as Miss Falkner but then as Mrs Donaldson. She opened as Polly and among other parts in a busy season performed Ophelia, Jessica, and Ariel (Shakespearian characters then viewed as essentially singing roles), Sabrina in Arne's Comus, and Philidel in the DrydenPurcell King Arthur. She was frequently advertised as singing between the acts and appeared in concerts in March and April. She was not re-engaged by Smock Alley, and in September 1753 advertised a subscription series of concerts in Dublin for the winter, but these do not seem to have been very successful. Her husband, a 'handsome and sprightly man' (Taylor, 1.56), appears to have begun an affair with the actress Mary Ann Graham while in Ireland and to have lived with her in London for two years before her marriage to the actor Richard Yates in 1756. After a season in the theatre at Bath, Mrs Donaldson made a final London appearance on 2 April 1755, singing a cantata by the young Michael Arne and the Irish song 'Ellen a Roon'.

All accounts agree that it was her musical powers that attracted George Montagu Dunk, second earl of Halifax (1716–1771). Their relationship lasted until his death. He obtained a lucrative government post in Jamaica for Donaldson, and built a house for Anna Maria adjoining Bushy Park, Middlesex, where he was ranger. This was Hampton Court House, with a charming rococo garden and elaborate shell grotto. In 1760 Halifax was in serious financial difficulties and arranged a marriage to an heiress to restore his fortunes; in desperation Anna Maria took their daughter, who was born on 24 July 1759 (in one account also their son, who died young), to plead with him, and he called the marriage off. She was in Ireland while Halifax was lord lieutenant there and behaved discreetly, although she was accused of selling places later. On his death in 1771 he provided fully and carefully for 'my Dearest Friend Anna Maria Donaldson' and for their daughter, Anna Maria Montagu.

William Donaldson, who had been living with a mistress and children at Turnham Green, died in 1780, and on 17 July 1784 his widow married Major Charles Lumm, recently returned from service in North America. Anna Maria Lumm of Gloucester Street, Portman Square, London, made her will on 28 December 1796, dividing her wealth and mementoes of Halifax among her five grandchildren and asking to be buried 'in the Chapel at Horton in Northamptonshire as near the Family vault of the Earl of Halifax as possible'. She was interred at St Margaret's, Westminster, on 16 January 1797.

Sources

  • A. H. Scouten, ed., The London stage, 1660–1800, pt 3: 1729–1747 (1961)
  • G. W. Stone, ed., The London stage, 1660–1800, pt 4: 1747–1776 (1962)
  • B. Boydell, A Dublin musical calendar, 1700–1760 (Dublin, 1988)
  • parish register, 1748, St George's Chapel, Mayfair [marriage]
  • parish register, 1752, St Paul's, Covent Garden [son's baptism]
  • parish register, 1780, St Nicholas's, Chiswick [burial; William Donaldson]
  • parish register, 1784, St Mary le Bone [marriage]
  • parish register, 1759, 1797, St Margaret's, Westminster [daughter's baptism; burial]
  • L. Baillie and R. Balchin, eds., The catalogue of printed music in the British Library to 1980, 62 vols. (1981–7)
  • The genuine memoirs of Miss Faulkner (1770)
  • ‘Histories of the têtes-à-têtes annexed: Dunkaro and Marianne’, Town and Country Magazine, 1 (1769), 225–7
  • E. Harris, ‘Villa for a mortal miss: Hampton Court House, Middlesex’, Country Life, 172 (1982), 392–4
  • E. Harris, ‘So rare, so elegant: the restored grotto at Hampton Court House’, Country Life, 180 (1986), 1956–9
  • J. Taylor, Records of my life, 1 (1832)
  • J. Trusler, Memoirs of the life of the Rev. Dr. Trusler (1806)
  • Walpole, Corr., vols. 9–10, 35, 38
  • The letters of David Garrick, ed. D. M. Little and G. M. Kahrl, 3 vols. (1963)
  • M. Sands, The eighteenth-century pleasure gardens of Marylebone, 1737–1777 (1987)
  • S. Rosenfeld, Strolling players and drama in the provinces, 1660–1765 (1939)
  • W. Dean, Handel's dramatic oratorios and masques (1959)
  • E. K. Sheldon, Thomas Sheridan of Smock-Alley: recording his life as actor and theater manager in both Dublin and London (1967)
  • wills, earl of Halifax, William Donaldson and Anna Maria Lumm, Family Records Centre, London

Likenesses

  • Mrs D-s-n, double portrait, engraving (with Hurgo Dunkaro), repro. in Town and Country Magazine
  • A. van der Myn, mezzotint (after his portrait), BM, NPG [see illus.]

Wealth at Death

over £18,500; plus plate and jewellery: will

H. Walpole, ed. W. S. Lewis & others, 48 vols. (1937–83)