William Evans Burton (1804-1860), English actor and playwright, born in London in September 1804, was the son of William George Burton (1774-1825), a printer and author of Research into the religions of the Eastern nations as illustrative of the scriptures (1805). He was educated for the Church, but, having entered his father's business, his success as an amateur actor led him to go upon the stage. After several years in the provinces, he made his first London appearance in 1831. In 1834 he went to America, where he appeared in Philadelphia as Dr Ollapod in The Poor Gentleman. He took a prominent place, both as actor and manager, in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, the theatre which he leased in New York being renamed Burton's theatre. He had much popular success as Captain Cuttle in John Brougham's dramatization of Dombey and Son, and in other low comedy parts in plays from Dickens's novels. Burton was the author of a large number of plays, one of which, Ellen Wareham (1833), was produced simultaneously at five London theatres. In Philadelphia he established the Gentleman's Magazine, of which Edgar Allan Poe was for some time the editor.

He was himself the editor of the Cambridge Quarterly and the Souvenir, and the author of several books, including a Cyclopaedia of Wit and Humour (1857). He collected a library of over 100,000 volumes, especially rich in Shakespeariana, which was dispersed after his death at New York City on the 9th of February 1860.