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Catley, Ann (1745–1789)

Catley, Ann (1745–1789)

English actress and singer. Name variations: Ann Lascelles. Born near Tower Hill, in London, England, in 1745; died at Ealing on December 14, 1789; daughter of a hackney-coachman; studied under Charles Macklin; married Francis Lascelles (a major-general).

From her first professional appearance at Vauxhall in 1762, Ann Catley's voice, beauty, and idiosyncratic manners brought her fame and notoriety. In 1763, an action was taken against Sir Francis Blake Delaval in the Court of King's Bench, accusing him of purchasing Catley from her singing master for improper purposes; her father had undertaken legal proceedings to regain her custody. From 1763 to 1770, she was an immensely popular performer in Dublin; after 1770, she beguiled the audiences of London. Women eagerly copied her dress; to be "Catleyfied" became synonymous with dressing becomingly. In 1784, Catley made her last appearance, having then married Major-General Francis Lascelles. Following the actress' death in 1789, The Life and Memoirs of the late Miss Ann Catley, the celebrated actress was published by a Miss Ambrose. The book was advertised as a "brief narrative of the life of Miss Ann Catley, containing the adventures of that lady in her public character of a singer, and private one of a courtezan, in England, Ireland, &c. With many curious anecdotes."

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