Reading the Accounts: The Day-to-Day Life of the Lincoln's Inn Fields Dancers in 1726-7
We are fortunate that detailed account books for the Lincoln's Inn Fields company under the management of John Rich survive at the British Library for two seasons in the 1720s. This paper will concentrate on the accounts for 1726-7 and will also draw on the diary the theatre's prompter, John Stede, and other source. Although Lincoln's Inn Fields was a theatre putting on a five-act play on almost every evening, dancers were extremely important. There was intense rivalry with Drury Lane, London's other theatre company, but the Lincoln's Fields dancers were certainly superior, particularly as the manager himself was an exceptional Harlequin. There were almost twenty regular dancers, both French and English, and their weekly salaries made up about a third of the total outlay on performers. These sources reveal the status of each dancer within the company, how many times they performed each week (something seriously underestimated when only advertisements are considered), the success or otherwise of their benefit performances and interesting insights into their personal lives.