Margaret Hughes

Margaret Hughes

Eltham, Royal Borough of Greenwich, Greater London, England
Death 1 Oct 1719 (aged 88–89)
Eltham, Royal Borough of Greenwich, Greater London, England
Burial Lee, London Borough of Lewisham, Greater London, England
Plot Old churchyard, no longer marked
Memorial ID 13698142 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Actress. She received noted acclaimed for being the first recorded professional actress on the English stage. Before her time, only boys and men were allowed to play female roles. “Peg”, as she was often called, had her ground-breaking debut at the Vere Street Theater as “Desdemona” in the December 4, 1660 performance of William Shakespear' “Othello”. She was said to be a dark-haired beauty. Diarist Samuel Pepys records how, in the late 1660s, he was delighted to received a kiss from her. She became the the mistress of Prince Rupert Von Der Pfalz of the Rhine, who was the first cousin of the resigning King Charles II. Prince Rupert's mother, Elizabeth, was the older sister of King Charles I. In 1662 King Charles II had lifted the 1642 ban on stage dramas as he enjoyed stage performances. Although she and Prince Rupert never married, she gave birth to his daughter, Ruperta in 1673. She did return to the stage after giving birth in 1676 with roles in eight different plays. Prince Rupert gave Hughes numerous gifts including royal jewels, immunity from ever being arrested for debt, and had her portrait painted four times by Sir Peter Lely. Most of the prince's estate was willed to her and their daughter, but a gambling habit soon absorbed the wealth. The royal jewels were being sold as well as the London house; she had to move to Etham, Kent. Her daughter married future Parliament Member Emanuel Scope Howe. Hughes was portrayed by Claire Danes in the 2004 movie “Stage Beauty.” An one-act play “The First Actress” was performed in London in 1911 by suffragettes. Hughes is also the main character of Diana Norman's 1994 novel, “The Vizard Mask.”

Bio by: Mark McManus

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



How famous was Margaret Hughes?

Current rating:

18 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Mark McManus
  • Added: 22 Mar 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 13698142
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Margaret Hughes (c.1630–1 Oct 1719), Find a Grave Memorial no. 13698142, citing Old St. Margaret's Churchyard, Lee, London Borough of Lewisham, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .