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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.

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Billy Waters, published by C. Reynolds, after  Thomas Lord Busby - NPG D20528

Billy Waters

published by C. Reynolds, after Thomas Lord Busby
lithograph, early 19th century
NPG D20528

Billy Waters, by Unknown artist - NPG D48192

Billy Waters

by Unknown artist
glazed earthenware, circa 1840
NPG D48192

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