Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FINN, Henry J., actor, born in New York City in 1782; died on Long Island sound. 13 January 1840. He received his early education at schools in New Jersey, and studied at Princeton. Thereafter he began the study of law in New York City. He appeared on several occasions under an assumed name, as an actor of small parts, at the old Park theatre. At this time his father died, and, as his mother was impoverished, she and her son set sail for England. In London, Finn at first was a teacher, cultivated a taste for painting, and joined a company of traveling players. Eventually his ability procured him an engagement at the London Haymarket theatre.
In 1811 he appeared in Montreal, and thereafter played at other places, being in Savannah, Georgia, in 1818'20. During the latter year he was for a brief period coeditor of the "Georgian." In 1821 the actor went again to London, occasionally playing in dramas at the Surrey theatre, and practicing the art of miniature painting for a livelihood. In 1822 he once more returned to his native land. He appeared as an actor in Boston, where for years he was a manager and performer. In Boston he set up, successfully, for a wit and punster in the manner of Thomas Hood, and relinquished heroic parts for comic and eccentric characters. Among these new assumptions were Paul Pry, Billy Black, Mawworm, and Dr. Pangloss. For ten years afterward his time was devoted to starring tours in large cities, and monologue variety entertainments in smaller places, he accumulated a handsome competence. Returning toward his Newport home, where he was proprietor of a straw hat factory, he was lost on the steamer " Lexington," which was burned on Long Island sound. He left a widow and twelve children. Finn wrote several dramas that were successfully produced but never published. His "Comic Annuals" were favorably received, but their witticisms, puns, and sayings, being largely imitative, have perished.
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