Southampton City Archives: SC2/6/5

f 15v


Vicesimo quinto die mensis Marcij Anno domini 1591

To all iustices of the peace Mayors Sheriffes bailiffes constables and all other her maiestes officers & ministers to whome it apperteineth greeting Know ye that I Edmund Tillney Esquire Master of the quenes maiestes office of the revells by vertue of her highnes lettres patentes vnder the great seale of England vnto me graunted Haue licensed appointed & authorised & by these presentes do license appointe & authorise the bearers heerof Iohn Muffet Iohn Barnes Thomas Blackmore Iohn Newbould (blank) attendantes on the right honorable the lord Beachamp & ther company for her maiestes better service to vse set forth and play in any citie towne corporate <.>r ani<.> other place or places within this Realme of England all such stage playes comedies tragedies and other publique shewes whateuer as shalbe s<.>ne reformed & allowed vnder the hand writing of me the sayd Edward Tillney and none other Request therefore & desireing you & euery of you to whome these presentes shall come quietly & peaceably to permit & suffer the sayd Iohn Muffet Iohn Barnes Thomas Blackwod Iohn Newbould (blank) and their companie to travell & passe from towne to towne & from place to place to show forth & play such stage playes comedies tragedies & publique shewes as aforesayd without anie your lete intervptions or other impedimentes behaueing themselves quietly & honestly as they ought to doe And further requireing you her maiestes Said officers not to suffer aney whatsoeuer to travell or exercise these qualitie contrarie to the lawes of this realme exept they shalbe licensed so to doe & their plays refourmed and allowed vnder my hand writeing And this present license to endure & continewe for the space of one whole yere next enseng the date herof In witnes &c dated the xiiijth of february in the xxxiijth yere of our souereigne lady Elizabeth &c Ed Tillney

f 23v

Vicesimo septimo die Iunij Anno 1591

To all Iustices of the peace Mayors Shreifes bayliffes Constables and other her maiestes officers and ministers to whome these presentes doth apperteine greeting Know ye that I Edward Tylney Esquier master of the quenes maiestes office of the revells by vertue of her highnes letters vnder the great seale of England to me graunted haue licensed & authorished and by these presentes do license & authorishe the bearers heerof Laurence Dutton & Iohn Dutton two of her maiestes ordinarye players and the company of children by me appointed vnder their gouernment for her maiestes better service in the time of Chrismas to vse shew forth & play all such playes comedies & tragedies and other publique shewes as shalbe sett downe & alowed vnder the hand writeing of me the sayd Edmund Tillney and none other Desireing therefore & requireing you & every of you to whome these presentes shall come quietly and peaceably to permit & suffer the sayd Lawrence Dutton and Iohn Dutton & their company to travaile from place to place within your precinctes & liberties and to vse shew forth & play all such playes comedies & trageies & other publique shewes as aforesayd without any your lettes trobles or impediamentes behaueing them selves quietly & honestly as they ought to doe And forsomuch as there hath bene great complaintes made of the exesse number of the players that doe traveill from countie to countie som abuseing the name of one noble man and som of an other to the great discredite of that facultie with no lesse troble to the countries where they resort These shalbe also to desire you if any such not haueing license from her maiestes office of the Revells shall happen to wander about from towne to towne that you do not onely reiect them but also binde them to appeare heere at London at her maiestes sayd office by a day provided allwayes that this my present license shall not continew & endure above the space of of one whole yere next ensueing the date herof In witnes &c ‸⸢yevendated the at St Ihones London this xiiijth day of May in the xxxiijth yere of the reigne of our souereigne Ladye Elizabeth &c E Tillney


  • Footnotes
    • Vicesimo … 1591: 'On the 25th day of the month of March, year of the lord 1591'
    • (blank): approximately 24 characters long
    • (blank): approximately 25 characters long
    • Ed Tillney: Edmund Tilney, Master of the Revels
    • Vicesimo … 1591: 'On the 27@s\th@s/ day of June, year 1591'
    • Edward: for Edmund
  • Glossed Terms
    • authorishe v inf, pr authorize; authorished pa
    • enseng adj ensuing
    • yeue, yeve v inf, pr, pass give; yeuen, yeven, yevynpa
  • Endnote

    On f 15v Tilney's signature is part of last line of the licence, which comes to the very bottom of the page. The blank spaces appear to have been left to accommodate more names of the acting company. On Tilney and his activities as master of the revels, see W.R. Streitberger, Masters of the Revels and Elizabeth I's Court Theatre (Oxford, 2016). Lord Beauchamp was Edward Seymour (1561–1612), son of the Edward Seymour who was earl of Hertford and who had angered the queen by marrying Katherine Grey, younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, without Elizabeth's consent in 1560. Hertford was imprisoned until his wife's death in 1568 and spent a long time regaining his standing with the queen. In September of 1591 Hertford hosted Elizabeth on progress at Elvetham, in north-eastern Hampshire, providing elaborate shows for her entertainment. Beauchamp's right to the title was in dispute for most of his life, since his parents' marriage had been declared void and Beauchamp himself illegitimate (ODNB).

    There is no way of knowing why the civic authorities in Southampton decided to start copying the players' licences in 1591. One possibility is that the town wanted to be able to refuse permission to play to some visiting companies, and the language of both this licence and the following one makes clear the town's right to deny permission to any companies that could not produce such a licence. Beauchamp's men had only recently gotten into trouble in Norwich, where in June 1590 they were refused permission to play and given 20s to leave town without performing, but according to the mayor's court 'notwithstonding they did sett vpp billes to provoke men to com to their playe and did playe in christechurche' (David Galloway (ed), Norwich, REED (Toronto, Buffalo and London, 1984), 96). John 'Mufford,' as the Norwich record calls him, was jailed for a time for his temerity, which likely means he was the leader of the group. Thomas Blackwood is the only other actor in the group who is mentioned elsewhere, as a member of Worcester's men in 1602 (E.K. Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, vol 2 (Oxford, 1923), 226, 303). Beauchamp's players were never a particularly successful company, but 1590–1 was one of their busiest years, as they were recorded at Faversham, Lydd, New Romney, Norwich, York, Shrewsbury, and Gloucester, as well as at Southampton (REED, Patrons and Performances, sv 'Seymour, Edward (1561–1612),'

    The licence copied on f 23v concerns the Dutton brothers, John and Laurence, who began their acting careers in the early 1570s, joining the earl of Warwick's company in the late 1570s and then shifting to the earl of Oxford's men in 1580 (Kathman, Biographical Index, ). John became a member of the queen's men when the master of the revels assembled that 'all–star' company in 1583. By 1591 the queen's men were no longer the pre-eminent company in the land or even at court; Tarlton had died and some of their earlier members had left. Records from around the country suggest that two different companies were travelling in the queen's name in 1591, one led by John Lanham, the other by the Duttons (Scott McMillin and Sally-Beth MacLean, The Queen's Men and their Plays (Cambridge and New York, 1998; rpt 2006), 11–12, 52–3, 62). One can easily imagine the mayor at Southampton asking the Duttons to produce their licence and having it copied into the town records, when only a short time before (on Shrove Sunday, 14 February) the town had paid a different group calling themselves the queen's players (see Book of Fines, 1590–1, ff 225, 226v). The earlier visitors were likely Lanham's group, as the Duttons were paid for performing at court in January, February, and March of 1590/1 (W.R. Streitberger, The Masters of the Revels and Elizabeth I's Court Theatre (Oxford, 2016), 278).

  • Document Description

    Record title: Knaplocke's Book
    Repository: Southampton City Archives
    Shelfmark: SC2/6/5
    Repository location: Southampton

    Knaplocke's Book is the earliest of the town's 'books of instruments,' which are collections of copies of a range of civic documents, including indentures, statutes, debts, acquittances, official letters, apprenticeships, and the like. This manuscript gets its name from the fact that it was compiled by Robert Knaplocke, mayor in 1575–6.

    1576–86; English and some Latin; paper; i + 183 + i; 420mm x 290mm; modern pencil foliation; original tooled leather cover.

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