Swansea Family History
Swansea Family History 

Ann Julia Hatton - "Ann of Swansea"

This is my second article regarding the blue plaques in Swansea this one is situated on the Civic Centre facing the sea and is for Ann Julia Hatton. She is being commemorated for being a local poet, novelist and managing the Swansea Bathing House

Ann had a very colourful life before she came to Swansea. Born in 1764, Ann Kemble, was the daughter of Roger Kemble. She was one of 12 children born into a Kemble theatrical family, her father was an actor-manager of a touring troupe, Ann’s siblings included, Sarah Siddons and John Philip Kemble who achieved fame on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

She was apprenticed to a mantua maker – an early term for a dress-maker before she went on the stage. At the age of 19, she married the actor, C. Curtis, who turned out to be married already. What a rotter. Ann was in financial straits and attempted suicide in Westminster Abbey, afterwards she became a “model” in the notorious London bagnio (bathing house) and brothel areas. In 1792 she got married for a second time, to William Hatton. The following year the couple embarked on voyage to America.

On returning to Britain in 1799, the couple settled in Swansea. They first kept the bathing-house near the sea front, till William’s death in 1806. After this time, 1806-1809, Ann kept a dancing school in Kidwelly, Carmarthen-shire. Ann is remembered from 1809 to her death in 1838, as a well-known writer. During the period 1810-1831, she wrote poetry and 14 gothic themed novels under the pseudonym of “Ann of Swansea”. Ann is buried in St. Matthews Church, High Street. A portrait of Ann (above), painted during 1835, aged 71, by William Watkeys is held at Swansea Museum.

Charles is a researcher and family historian. If you have a question regarding your family history that you’d like to put to Charles, he can be contacted at: swanseafamilyhistory@yahoo.co.uk – he’d be delighted to hear from you

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© Charles Wilson-Watkins