John Beard and William Ewart blue plaque in London

John Beard (c.1717-1791), singer and William Ewart (1798-1869), promoter of public libraries, lived here.

William Ewart (1 May 1798 – 23 January 1869) was a British politician, born in Liverpool on 1 May 1798. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, gaining the Newdigate prize for English verse. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1827, and the next year entered Parliament for the borough of Bletchingley in Surrey, serving until 1830. He subsequently sat for Liverpool from 1830 to 1837, for Wigan from 1839 to 1841, and for Dumfries Burghs from 1841 until his retirement from public life in 1868. He died at his home, Broadleas House, near Devizes, Wiltshire, on 23 January 1869.Ewart, who was an advanced liberal in politics, was responsible during his long political career for many useful measures. In 1834 he successfully carried a bill to abolish hanging in chains, and in 1837 he was successful in getting an act passed to abolish capital punishment for cattle-stealing and other similar offences. In 1850 he carried a bill for establishing free libraries supported out of public rates, and in 1864 he was instrumental in getting an act passed for legalizing the use of the metric system of weights and measures.He remained a strong advocate for the abolition of capital punishment, and on his motion in 1864, a Royal Commission was appointed to consider the subject, on which he sat. Other reforms which he advocated and which have since been carried out were an annual statement on education, and the examination of candidates for the civil service and army.He was a close friend of the Revd William Gaskell and his wife, the famous writer Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell and the couple often stayed at Broadleas House. Ewart's daughter, Mary, was Mrs Gaskell's close confidante.

Source: dbpedia

John Beard (c. 1716 – 5 February 1791) was an English tenor of the 18th century. He is best remembered for creating an extensive number of roles in the operas and oratorios of George Frideric Handel.His début came in Handel's 1734 revival of Il pastor fido, which was a great success. He continued to sing for Handel, creating roles in ten of his operas and performing in every one of Handel's English-language oratorios, odes, and music dramas, with the sole exception of The Choice of Hercules. He also performed for Thomas Arne, and sang at the Chapel Royal. His marriage, during 1739, to Lady Henrietta Herbert, only daughter of James Waldegrave, 1st Earl Waldegrave caused much scandal: Lord Egmont commented that "there is no prudence below the girdle". Lady Herbert died in 1753 and in 1759 he married again, this time to Charlotte Rich, whose father was the proprietor of the opera house in Covent Garden. After he died in 1761 Beard succeeded to the role until 1767, when deafness forced him to retire, selling Covent Garden's ownership for £60,000. He died at Hampton.Handel created several heroic leading roles for Beard, a revolution in the heyday of the castrato voice. The title roles in Samson, Judas Maccabeus, and Jeptha call for strength and expressive qualities over agility. He also sang the role of Farmer Hawthorne in the world premiere of Thomas Arne's Love in a Village. Charles Burney commented that he "constantly possessed the favour of the public by his superior conduct, knowledge of Music, and intelligence as an actor." Burney's article in Rees's Cyclopaedia noted that Beard, "an energetic English singer, and an excellent actor, was brought up in the king's chapel. He knew as much of music as was necessary to sing a single part at sight, and with a voice that was more powerful than sweet, he became the most useful and favourite singer of his time, on the stage, at Ranelagh, at all concerts; and in Handel's oratorios he had always a capital part, being by his knowledge of music the most steady support of the choruses, not only of Handel, but in the odes of Green and Boyce".

Source: dbpedia

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