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William Burnaby

In the centre part of the south transept of Westminster Abbey is a gravestone to William Burnaby, dramatist. The inscription reads:

William Burnaby Esq. who died November the 8th 1706 in the three and thirtieth year of his age

The coat of arms at the top is now very rubbed but was recorded in a 19th century book as "two bars, in chief a lion passant regardant". William was Agent for prizes on board the Fleet for the West Indies. He was born in 1673, a son of William, brewer, and his wife Isabella. He was educated at Oxford and the Middle Temple. The Reform'd Wife was staged at Drury Lane in 1700 but this and other works did not go down very well with audiences. His brothers were Anthony, James and John, Probably Anthony (died 1708), lawyer and Member of Parliament and also a secretary to the prize commissioners, was the brother. It may have been through his influence that William was buried in the Abbey.

His will is at The National Archives.

Further reading for William Burnaby

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The dramatic works of William Burnaby, edited by F.E. Budd, 1931

Further reading for Anthony Burnaby

History of Parliament online

Died

8th November 1706

Occupation

Playwright

Location

South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type

Grave

William Burnaby
William Burnaby grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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It’s a privilege to live and work here – the Abbey really is the heart of the country and its history.

Martin - The Dean’s Verger

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