David Garrick was a great friend of Samuel Johnson and also a ‘Streatham Worthy’, one of the members of the Streatham set who stayed regularly at Streatham Park with the Thrales. Garrick was painted by Joshua Reynolds and this portrait of him was hung in the library at Streatham Park.
Garrick grew up in Lichfield in Staffordshire, Samuel Johnson’s home town, and was the only pupil at the Edial Hall School founded by Johnson. After the failure of this school, Garrick and Johnson came to London together where Garrick appeared as Richard III in 1741. The play was a runaway success. He became a very popular actor playing 18 roles in the first six months that he was at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He regularly acted at the Drury Lane Theatre and in 1747 took it over, a position he held for almost 30 years. He is considered by many to be the greatest actor of his time.
He also wrote the words of Hearts of Oak, the official march of the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Navies.
Hearts of oak are our ships
Jolly tars are our men,
We always are ready .
Steady boys steady!
We’ll fight and we’ll conquer
Again and again!
Following his death in 1779, aged 61, he was buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, the first actor to be so honoured.