Thomas Betterton

The famous actor manager Thomas Betterton was buried in the East Cloister of Westminster Abbey "over against the third pillar from the south end next to the garden" on 2nd May 1710. His grave was never inscribed and he has no monument.

He was a son of Matthew Betterton of Westminster, said to have been an under-cook to King Charles I, and his second wife Frances, daughter of Thomas and Alice Flowerdew (who have a monument in St Margaret's church Westminster). Thomas was baptised in St Margaret's on 12th August 1635 and he married the celebrated actress Mary Sanderson in 1662. He was briefly a member of Thomas Killigrew's King's Company but he signed an agreement with Sir William D'Avenant in the Duke's Company in 1660. His acting was praised by diarist Samuel Pepys and his Dorset Garden Theatre opened in 1671. Mary and Thomas shared their home with two informally adopted daughters Anne Bracegirdle, who is buried near them, and Elizabeth Watson, who both became well known actresses. Mary was granted a pension by Queen Anne but she died in 1712 and was buried with Thomas on 13th April. Her will was proved by Frances, wife of her nephew John Williamson.

Thomas' younger brother Charles, who worked in the king's kitchen, was baptised at St Margaret's on 10th June 1647 and married Anne. Their son Thomas and daughter Anne were baptised at that church in 1676 and 1677 respectively. He was buried in the cloisters on 23rd December 1678 but there is no inscribed gravestone for him.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


28th April 1710


2nd May 1710




Cloisters; East Cloister

Thomas Betterton
Thomas Betterton

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]