Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1713-1784 - Brydges Street (Covent Garden)

Innkeeper Isaac [Issachar] Norsa was a Jew from Mantua who, in 1717, was living in Brydges Street, Covent Garden, where he co-owned the Green Cannister tavern with his brother Abraham. Prior to that, from 1713, Isaac had owned the Cocoa Tree Chocolate House on the south side of Pall Mall. In 1722, the two brothers took over the Punch Bowl tavern in Drury Lane.

Isaac’s daughter Hannah grew up around the Covent Garden theatres. She made her stage debut as Polly Peachum in John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera on 16 December 1732 in the newly opened Covent Garden Theatre and was an immediate success, the revival having a continuous run of twenty nights. Hannah Norsa remained a leading singer and actress at Covent Garden. She performed there until early May 1736, when she was taken off the stage by Robert Walpole, son of the Prime Minister Robert Walpole and elder brother of Horace.

Lord Walpole’s marriage in 1724 to an heiress had proved unhappy; they were living apart and eventually obtained a legal separation. Hannah Norsa was Walpole’s mistress until his death. In 1766 Hannah Norsa, describing herself as a spinster, was living in Rotterdam, but by 1769 she was back in England, living on Bridge Street in Westminster. She died in August 1784 at Brompton Row in Kensington.

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