Billy Waters(circa 1778-1823), Actor and musician
Sitter in 2 portraits
Billy Waters was a popular black beggar and entertainer who could commonly be seen entertaining crowds outside the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand in London in the 1780s. Having served in the British Navy during which he lost his leg, he settled with his family in the London parish of St Giles and supplemented his insufficient and diminutive pension by busking and begging. He was a fiddler and singer who was easily recognisable by his wooden-peg leg, naval costume and the feathers in his hat. Towards the end of his life he was so poverty-stricken that he had to sell his fiddle. Upon becoming ill he entered the workhouse in 1823 but died 10 days later, aged 45. He was buried in the cemetery at St Pancras church.
Explore the portrait of Billy Waters (NPG D48192) from all angles
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