Fred Terry

Benjamin and Sarah Ballard Terry lost two children in infancy, but the nine surviving children all were connected in some way with the stage; the most famous of these children was, of course, Ellen Terry. Her youngest brother Fred made his stage debut in 1880 at the Lyceum Theatre as Sebastian (Ellen played Viola) in Twelfth Night. His youth and his physical likeness to his sister gave, the critics said, some verisimilitude to Sebastian and Viola as brother and sister in the play. In 1882 he played in Macbeth, Twelfth Night, and The Merchant of Venice.

In 1883 he jointed Ben Greet’s company and while with him played both Mercutio and Claudio. This is a list of the plays he appeared in over the years: 1884: Twelfth Night (Sebastian) with his sister Ellen and Henry Irving; 1887: Othello; 1890-1894: joined Beerbohm Tree‘s company and played Slender in The Merry Wives of Windsor and the Player in Hamlet; 1911: played Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and mounted a production of Romeo & Juliet; 1919 and 1920 he produced Much Ado About Nothing and again played Benedick. There was a hiatus in his career in 1912 and 1913 when he became seriously ill; after his recovery he went on tour.

Fred’s most popular role was as Sir Percy Blakeney in the Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, but in one of the cards here, we see him in an equally well-known part as Charles II in Sweet Nell of Old Drury.

In 1890, Terry married a spectacular actress, Julia Neilson, and the two of them toured and played, and managed theaters in London from 1900 until 1930, three years before Fred’s death in 1933. Their children are Phyllis and Dennis Neilson-Terry.