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John Rannie

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John Rannie


John Rannie 1769-1820 (fl. 1800s) was a 19th-century magician and ventriloquist from Scotland who performed in the Eastern United States over a ten-year period.[1]


It is possible Rannie was born in Bo'ness, West Lothian on June 13, 1769. John Rannie, Ventriloquist, residing in Elgin was tried in Inverness on May 2, 1800 for the crime of meal mobbing (causing a disturbance over the price and scarcity of wheat and oats). He was found guilty, sentenced to a month in jail and banished from Scotland for seven years. [2]

Rannie's first performance was in Boston in late 1801. Rannie had come to American with his brother James and a young dark skinned assistant, Richard Potter (the first American born magic star). The brothers toured together and at times separately in the Northeast. James, after a year, returned to England, leaving John as the major force in magic in America until his retirement in 1811. Rannie performed from Maine to the West Indies, and as far west as New Orleans.

Rannie was also an accomplished rope dancer, balancer, actor and producer, becoming major force in early American theater.[3] Rannie used a doll in one of his ventriloquist's routines.

In 1811 Rannie announced he was retiring, returning home and said Potter would continue without him. He may have died in 1820 [4]


  1. Ten Year Tour of John Rannie:Magician-Ventriloquist in Early America by Charlse J. Pecor.
  2. Watson, James. "May 1800 British Intelligence." The Scotts Magazine,Vol 62, page 363.
  3. Rannie in Boston By Gary Hunt
  4. Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum, Hall of Fame members list