Berkshire, Reading, 1630–1

Corporation Diaries

BRO: R/AC1/1/3


p 114 (12 November)


Robert Kimpton Nathaniell Clay Thomas Holman & others named in the license ‸⸢from the master of Revells⸣ dated the 30th of December 1629 tendred themselves to play in Towne/ ⸢but did not⸣ and were here in Lent last/

Memorandum william Perrey ‸⸢& Richard wickes the kinges servantes⸣ & their company were here x dayes past:

Richard Bradshawe hath licens & company

Ellys Guest hath licens & company


p 154 (18 July)


Then Ellys Guest Richard Errington and their company Players shewed their licence vnder their seale of the Master of the Revells dated the 15th of Iuly 1631/ to endure six monethes videlicet the xvjth of Ianuary next/ Desired leave to playe/ but did not/

p 157 (13 August)

Coram Thoma Turner generoso

At this/ Daye Mr Ioseph Moore and the rest/ of his Company vnder the name of the lady Elizabeth her highnes servantes shewed their licens to playe &c/ desiringe liberty to playe in the Towne hall &c signed with the Kinges signett

mr Wyndebank &c

xx s. was geven to him to forbeare their plange at this tyme in Readinge/

  • Marginalia
    • 12o
    • Memorandum
    • 5 s
    • 15 s
    • 18/ Iulij 1631
    • Quenes players/
    • 3 August 1631/
  • Footnotes
    • Thoma Turner generoso: mayor for the fourth time
  • Glossed Terms
    • plange vb n playing
  • Endnote

    The records of the players visiting Reading in 1630–1 are well known. They were first published in the 1890s by Guilding, then vicar of the parish of St Laurence, in Reading Records, vols 2 and 3. Guilding transcribed the records carefully. They were reproduced verbatim by Murray in English Dramatic Companies, vol 2. All but two references to players in Reading in Bentley's Jacobean and Caroline Stage, vols 1 and 2, are cited from Murray. Records where these players are associated with performances in Coventry, Norwich, York, Devon, and Lancashire can be found in Patrons and Performances ( by typing the name of the actor in the 'Search across the site' box under 'Troupes.' A bibliography containing further resources about all these players is Kathman's Biographical Index of English Drama ( This website also gives the years when these men 'flourished.' Records of these players in REED volumes that do not refer to patronized performances or related activities and so are not in Patrons and Performances and that are also not in Kathman are provided here.

    Robert Kempston (Kimpton, Knipton, Kempton) (fl 1629–33) is referred to by Bentley as the leader of the provincial King's Revels company (Jacobean and Caroline Stage, vol 2, p 491).

    The only other references to Nathaniel Clay (fl 1615–30) are from the 1618 letter confirming the patent of the company led by John Daniell when he is named as a member of the Children of her Majesty's Royal Chamber of Bristol. John Wasson, in Devon, REED (Toronto, 1986), 188–9, provides a letter from Ignatius Iurdain, mayor of Exeter, for June 1618 to Sir Thomas Lake, the king's principal secretary, in which he complains that the patent for the company was for children and not for the grown men presenting it. The patent is provided in the endnote to the record (p 447). The Bristol records, however, provide a letter addressed to 'all Maiors, Sheriffes, Baliffes Constables and other his Maiesties officers and Liege Subiectes to whom it may belong or in any wise appertaine' dated April 1618 confirming the patent for Daniell's company (Bristol, pp 209–10) in which Clay is also named.

    Thomas Holman (fl 1630) is noted in Bentley from Murray's use of Guilding's transcription, but there is no other evidence so far published for him (Jacobean and Caroline Stage, vol 2, p 475).

    William Perry (d. 1648) is called by Bentley 'probably the most conspicuous of the provincial players' (Jacobean and Caroline Stage, vol 2, p 529). On 27 February 1615 Perry presented a license to play for an unnamed company to the city council of Norwich (Galloway, Norwich 1540–1642, p 143). In 1629 his name appears in the commission for a company called 'His Majesty's servants for the city of York.' The commission for that company was issued 18 September 1629 and note of it is preserved in (TNA: SP 38/15):

    'A Commission vnto William Perrey, for the making vp, and keeping of a Company of Players during his Maiestes pleasure, to exercise & present all vsuall Stage playes by the name of his Maiestes servantes for the Citty of Yorke, with such Clauses, as haue ben considered and allowed of, by the lord Chamberlaine of his Maiestes houshould, to whome his Maiestie referred the Consideracion thereof. Subscr by order from the lord Chamberlaine procured by Mr Kirk.'

    Some time in the summer of 1635 he was paid £2 not to play in Bristol (Mark C. Pilkinton (ed), Bristol, REED (Toronto, Buffalo, and London, 1997), p 239). He is the only player named in the record and from the small amount he may have been alone. On 5 April 1636 he is named as a member of 'the Company of the fortune play howse' in a letter written by the mayor of Canterbury complaining about the behaviour of the players (James Gibson (ed), Kent: Diocese of Canterbury, vol 1, REED (Toronto, Buffalo, and London, 2002), p 294).

    Richard Weeks (Weekes, Wicks) (fl 1628–40) was associated with the Red Bull-King's Men from 1629 to 1636. In a record from Norwich he and John Shank presented their license from the master of the Revels to the city council on 6 June 1635. The council granted leave for them to play from 6 to 18 June (Galloway, Norwich 1540–1642, p 219). On 5 April 1636, again with Perry, he is named as a member of the Red Bull Company in the letter of complaint written by the mayor of Canterbury.

    By giving the dates, fl 1595–1635, for Richard Bradshaw Kathman does not support Bentley's suggestion that there were two provincial players of that name – one active from 1595 to 1605 and one from 1630 to 1633 (Biographical Index of English Drama,; Jacobean and Caroline Stage, vol 2, pp 387–8). The 1595 evidence for Bradshaw is from a copy of a 1595 license for 'lord dudleys seruants' in which Bradshaw's name appears. The license was confiscated in Chester 11 November 1602 by Mayor Hugh Glaseour who considered it out of date (Elizabeth Baldwin et al (eds), Cheshire including Cheshire, vol 1, REED (Toronto, Buffalo, and London, 2007), 293). This present laconic entry for Bradshaw and his company comes two years before a complex incident involving this company and the town of Banbury over the possibility that the license the company presented was fraudulent. Murray discusses this event in English Dramatic Companies (vol 2, pp 106–9, 163–7). The full records of the Banbury affair and its subsequent consideration by the privy council are found in TNA: SP 16/238/32 (6 May 1633) and TNA: PC 2/43 (1 May 1633–31 May 1634) and will appear in REED's Oxfordshire collection.

    Ellis (Elias) Guest (1588–1635) was a prominent player in the provinces. On 28 May 1625 he was in Norwich with a company with license from Sir Henry Herbert, the master of the Revels, but they were paid not to play (Galloway, Norwich 1540–1642, pp 187, 189). Three years later on 2 July 1628, the same company with a license from Herbert was again paid by the city of Norwich for not playing (pp 197–8).

    In a deposition concerning a brawl in which he was involved before the performance at a play in Ludlow, Shropshire, in 1627, Richard Errington (fl c 1577–1636) described himself as being 'of the Citty of London pewterer aged lti yeares or thereabout' (Alan Somerset (ed), Shropshire, REED (Toronto, Buffalo, and London, 1994), 110).

    Bentley calls Joseph Moore (fl 1611–40) 'one of the most conspicuous of the leaders of the provincial troupes' (Jacobean and Caroline Stage, vol 2, p 512).

  • Event Entity Pages
  • Document Description

    Record title: Corporation Diaries
    Repository: BRO
    Shelfmark: R/AC1/1/3
    Repository location: Reading

    R/AC1/1/2–4 are not elegant books. The writing is hurried and the jottings often seem to have been made at random.

    Oct 1628–May 1637; English; paper; x + 229 + x; size varies with size of original booklet from 315mm x 198mm to 320mm x 198mm; 19th-c. pagination, modern foliation; heavily damaged from damp and repaired; bound in boards covered in vinyl with white spine and wrap around, title stamped on black patch on spine: 'Reading | Corporation | Diary | 1628–37.'

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