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For the benefit of J. Butler and W. Bryant : at the Theatre, Sydney on July 30, 1796 will be performed Jane Shore ... : after the play The Wapping landlady ... to which will be added The miraculous cure
Bib ID 4200235
Format BookBook, OnlineOnline
Online Versions
Related Online
Description [Sydney : George Hughes, Govt. Printer for Theatre, Sydney, 1796] 
1 broadside ; 20 x 12 cm. (8vo) in case 35 x 27 cm. 

The earliest extant Australian imprint dated Saturday, 30 July 1796 and an artefact associated with the First Fleet. A playbill printed in Sydney on a small wooden screw press and type which came out with the First Fleet. Printed by the first Australian government printer George Hughes. It is advertising three theatrical performances to be held in Sydney and includes the names of actors, other company members (and Hughes) involved in the performances. The verso of the playbill has been annotated and signed PG King, i.e., Philip Gidley King. The handwritten note is addressed to George Chalmers, Esq., and lists two other plays performed earlier in Sydney and Norfolk Island.


George Hughes, actor and government printer, is an elusive figure. There is some recorded evidence of him living in Sydney between 1795 and 1802 as either George or George Henry the latter appearing on the stage. His name does not appear in the convict indents but a John Hughes does appear with the ship the Pitt which arrived in 1792. Between 1796 and 1800 George was the government printer, printing some 200 Government orders, several broadsides and a few playbills. When convict George Howe arrived in Sydney in 1800 he was immediately employed in the printery because of his experience in the printing office of the London times. Hughes then returned to obscurity.

Philip Gidley King (born 1758) arrived in New South Wales in January 1788 on the First Fleet with Australia's first printing press. King served as second Lieutenant on the Sirius. In February 1788 King sailed for Norfolk Island to found a subsidiary settlement. He was the island's first superintendent and commandant and later its lieutenant-governor (1791-1796). In October 1796 King returned to England because of ill health but returned to New South Wales to serve as its third Governor from 1800 to 1806. He returned to England in 1807 and died on 3rd September 1808. He left three sons, four daughters.

George Chalmers (1742-1825) was a British antiquary, writer and bureaucrat and Chief Clerk to the Committee of the Privy Council for the Consideration of All Matters Relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations which he held to his death. He was a prolific author on a wide range of subjects from politics, economics to history and literature. He was a member of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries.

Dawson Turner (1775-1858) was a British banker, botanist, antiquary and writer. A Fellow of the Royal Society in 1802 who published several important botanical works. His talented daughters illustrated his other works. His wealth purchased him paintings by Dutch, Flemish, Italian and Norwich artists. His wide ranging literary, scientific and antiquarian tastes resulted in a library of 8,000 volumes. He expanded to fifty-six volumes Blomefield's History of Norfolk. His second marriage to a widow his junior in age and station estranged him from family and friends. After his death much of his library was sold but much of his collections remained in important repositories in England.

Library and Archives Canada was formed in 2004 from a merger of the former National Library of Canada and the former National Archives of Canada.


Caption title.

At head of title: By permission of His Excellency.

"Front boxes 3s.6d. Pit 2s.6d. Galley 1s. Doors to be opened at half past five, begin at six. Tickets to be had of Mrs Greville, of W. Bryant and a Saturday at the House adjoining the Theatre"

Performers listed on playbill as acting in Jane Shore: Hastings (I. Sparrow); Belmour (R. Evans); Catesby (H.Lavell); Ratcliffe (L. Jones); Glosser (W. Chapman); Shore (H. Green); Alicia (Mrs Davis) and Jane Shore (Mrs Greville)

Gift from the Government of Canada to the people of Australia, 11th September 2007, Parliament House, Canberra. Presented by The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada to The Honourable John Howard, PM, Prime Minister of Australia.

Printed on hand-made laid paper, deckle edge at right hand side. Watermark not visible. Visible portion of countermark reads: CURTE/17. Font probably Caslon in various point sizes.

Inscriptions: "Play acted at Port Jackson, June 4th 1789 The Recruiting Officer" - Handwritten in iron gall ink on reverse.

Inscriptions: "Play performed at Norfolk Island, December 1793 Richard 3rd Poor Soldier PG King" - Handwritten in iron gall ink on reverse.

Inscriptions: "To George Chalmers Esqr" - Handwritten in iron gall ink on reverse.

Condition: Small vertical tear at centre of bottom edge.

Not in Ferguson but eligible.

The other four earliest extant imprints from Hughes' press are two 1796 broadsides F245-F246 (Nov. 16; 18 respectively) located at the State Records Authority of New South Wales and two 1800 playbills F319-F320 (Mar. 8; Apr. 8 respectively) held by the Mitchell Library of the State Library of New South Wales.

The Sydney Theatre playbill for Jane Shore, 30 July 1796, inscribed on the Australian Register in 2011, Memory of the World.

National Libary of Australia's copy includes facsim. of verso containing inscriptions.

RBRS N 686.2099441 F692 copy also available online

Source of Acquisition A playbill found in the collections of Library and Archives Canada, formerly the National Library of Canada. Previously bound in a scrapbook which had been transferred to the National Library by Canada's Library of Parliament in 1973. Originally compiled by Dawson Turner the scrapbook contained other ephemera and pamphlets relating to Canada and England but no other Australiana. It is not known how Dawson Turner acquired the playbill, nor its history prior to that acquisition. The handwriting of Philip Gidley King present on the reverse of the item would suggest that at some point it was in his custody. When investigations by the Library and Archives Canada revealed the significance of the playbill, it initiated the playbill's return to Australia as a gift to the Australian people. It will be permanently located in the Australian Collection at the National Library of Australia. 
Cited In

Jordan, Robert. The convict theatres of early Australia, 1788-1840, p.223 (Hughes)

Australian dictionary of biography, v.1, p.562 (Hughes)

Subjects Printing -- New South Wales -- Sydney -- Specimens.  |  Printing -- Australia -- Specimens.  |  Playbills -- New South Wales -- Sydney.  |  Theaters -- New South Wales -- Sydney.  |  Sydney (N.S.W.) -- Social life and customs -- 1788-1851.
Other authors/contributors Hughes, George, active 1796-1800  |  King, Philip Gidley, 1758-1808  |  Chalmers, George, 1742-1825  |  Turner, Dawson, 1775-1858  |  Rowe, Nicholas, 1674-1718. Jane Shore  |  Forde, Brownlow. Miraculous cure, or, The citizen out-witted  |  Library and Archives Canada  |  National Library of Australia
Also Titled

Jane Shore

Wapping landlady

Miraculous cure

Wapping landlady; or Jack in distress (Choreographic work : Fischar)

Exhibited National Libary of Australia's copy exhibited: "Treasures Gallery", National Library of Australia, October 2011 - August 2014.  National Libary of Australia's copy exhibited: "The Sell: Australian Advertising, 1790s to 1990s", National Library of Australia, 23 November 2016 - 25 April 2017. 

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RBRS N 686.2099441 F692
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