The late Dr. George Gregory served a clerkship to the late Alderman Charles Gore of Liverpool, merchant; and during the time of his clerkship was more fond of books, and letters than waste-book, journal, and ledger. He was particularly fond of theatricals, and, by his exertions, a small private theatre was raised in Liverpool, at which place many of the youth then spent a deal of time, and a little money, in fitting up a large room, with scenes, benches, &c. This amusement led many of the young men to the stage; and there are some now on the public stage, who first took up the buskin here, and liking it, have since worn it to the present day with some credit to themselves. Amongst these was Mr. Charles Murray, who offered himself at the same time as the Doctor did. Mr. Younger gave, as we are informed, Mr. Murray encouragement, and he first entered his public career at York. Young Gregory was happy in his gesture and delivery, and esteemed the best on these points, yet his figure was greatly against him; this Younger told him — and farther, that upon account of his make, he would not do. The writer of this has been pleased with him in the characters of Hamlet, Richard III. and others; and he occasionally played Falstaff. In short, for several years, he was the head of the company, and generally styled "Theatrical Director;" an office appointed by the Society, and in other words, manager of these private plays. Strangers and friends were admitted per ticket only; except once, when the Company played for the benefit of an unfortunate man of the name of "Leverton," an instrument-maker, in the old theatre, Drury-lane, for whom they raised a sufficient sum to liberate him fro prison.
This Society on other evenings was a debating society; and again, on another night, was appropriated to the consideration of the Arts, Musick, Painting, &c. But Theatricals, under Dr. Gregory's influence, preponderated, and it was doubtful what line he would himself hereafter pursue, the buskin or the surplice; but his figure, with Younger's opinion, determined it. After his clerkship was out, he made a voyage to Portugal, and returning soon after went into the Church, and was an officiating curate some little time in Liverpool, and offered himself a candidate for the office of Chaplain to the Corporation, and being disappointed, left Liverpool and settled in London, as you have stated in your Magazine, p. 277.
During his clerkship, he wrote odes, farces, plays, &c. some of which were printed at this time. Liverpool might boast of the best set of comedians out of London; an old play-bill laying before me, some of your friends, no doubt, would be glad to see such an assemblage of notables perform. They did not then visit Liverpool for a few days or weeks, but for the whole season, from the beginning of June to the end of August or September.
Theatre Royal, Williamson Square, Liverpool, 1773.
Dr. Gregory married Miss Nunes, daughter of Mr. Nunes, a merchant of Liverpool; a well-informed and agreeable lady. Much credit was due to Dr. Gregory for his preserving attention in the improvement of his mind, and for knowledge which was solely acquired by his own industry and application. Such was also Mr. Roscoe, then an apprentice to an attorney, who began to study Latin at the age of 21 or thereabouts. But they were not then very intimate. Mr. Munden was also an apprentice to Mr. Richmond of Liverpool.