Jacob Hall (fl. 1668), was a rope-dancer, distinguished himself as a performer on the tight-rope.
In 1668 he attained his greatest popularity. The court encouraged him, and he described himself as 'sworn servant to his Majestie.' Lady Castlemain, afterwards Duchess of Cleveland, to avenge herself on Charles for neglecting her, fell, according to Pepys and Grammont, 'mightily in love' with him. In April 1668 he was a regular visitor at her house, and received a salary from her. He appears to have given his earliest entertainment in a booth at Smithfield, in connection with Bartholomew Fair. Pepys witnessed his performance there on 28 Aug. 1668, and described his 'dancing of the ropes' as 'a thing worth seeing, and mightily followed.' On 21 Sept. 1668 Pepys attended again, and afterwards met Hall at a tavern. Hall told Pepys that he had often fallen, but had never broken a limb. 'He seems,' Pepys adds, 'a mighty strong man.'
There was a symmetry and elegance, as well as strength and agility, in the person of Jacob Hall, which was much admired by the ladies, who regarded him as a due composition of Hercules and Adonis. The open-hearted dutchess of Cleveland was said to have been in love with this rope-dancer and Goodman the player at the same time. The former received a salary, from her grace.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1775.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.