Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Privy Council

LMA: COL/RMD/PA/01/002

ff 52v–3 (13 September)

Our humble duty remembred to your good Lordships & the rest: Wee haue been bold heartofore to signify to your Highnesses the great inconvenyenc that groweth to this Cytie by the Common exercise of Stage Plaies, whearin wee presumed to be the more often & earnest suters to your Highnesses ffor the suppressing of the said Stage Plaies aswell in respect of the good government of this Cytie/ which wee desire to be such as her Highnes & your Highnesses might be pleased thearwithall as for conscience sake being perswaded (vnder correccion of your Highnesses Iudgment) that neither in policye nor in religion they ar to be permitted in a Christian Common wealthe specially being of that frame & making as vsually they are, & conteyning nothing but profane fables, Lascivious matters, cozoning devizes, & other vnseemly & scurrilous behaviours, which ar so sett forthe; as that they move wholy to imitacion & not to the avoyding of those vyces which they represent which wee verely think to be the cheef cause aswell of many other disorders & lewd demeanors which appeer of late in young people of all degrees, as of the late stirr & mutinous attempt of those few apprentices and other servantes who wee doubt not driew their infection from these & like places Among other inconvenyences it is not the least that the refuse sort of evill disposed & vngodly people about this Cytie haue oportunitie hearby to assemble together & to make their matches for all their lewd & vngodly practizes: being also the ordinary places for all maisterles men & vagabond persons that haunt the high waies to meet together & to recreate themselfes Whearof wee begin to haue experienc again within these few daies since it pleased her highnes to revoke her Comission graunted forthe to the Provost Marshall, for fear of home they retired themselfes for the time into other partes out of his precinct but ar now returned to | their old haunt & frequent the Plaies (as their manner is) that ar daily shewed at the Theator & Bankside: Whearof will follow the same inconveniences whearof wee haue had to much experienc heartofore, ffor preventing Whearof wee ar humble suters to your good Lordships & the rest to direct your lettres to the Iustices of peac of Surrey & Middlesex for the present stay & finall suppressing of the said Plaies aswell at the Theator & Bankside as in all other places about the Cytie Whearby wee doubt not but the oportunytie & very cause of so great disorders being taken away wee shalbe able to keepe the people of this Cytie in such good order & due obedienc ams that her highness & your Highnesses shalbe well pleased & content thearwithall And so most humbly wee take our Leaue. ffrom London the xiijth of September .1595.

Your Highnesses most humble/

To the right honourable the Lords & others of her
Maiesties most honourable privy Counsell

...

  • Marginalia
  • Footnotes
    • Our: O in display script
    • their old: also written as catchwords at the foot of f 52v
    • Leaue: final e written over another letter
    • 1595: underlined
  • Modernized Text

    ff 52v–3 (13 September)

    Our humble duty remembered to your good lordships and the rest.
    We have been bold heretofore to signify to your highnesses the great inconvenience that grows in this city by the common exercise of stage plays, wherein we presumed to be the more often and earnest suitors to your highnesses for the suppressing of the said stage plays, as well in respect of the good government of this city, which we desire to be such as her highness and your highnesses might be pleased therewithall as for conscience sake, being persuaded (under correction of your highnesses' judgement) that neither in policy nor in religion they are to be permitted in a Christian commonwealth, especially being of that frame and making as usually they are, cozening devices and other unseemly and scurrilous behaviours, which are so set forth as that they move wholly to imitation and not to the avoiding of those vices which they represent, which we verily think to be the chief cause as well of many other disorders and lewd demeanours which appear of late in young people of all degrees, as of the late stir and mutinous attempt of those few apprentices and other servants, who we doubted not drew their infection from these and like places. Among other inconveniences, it is not the least that the refuse sort of evil disposed and ungodly people about this city have opportunity hereby to assemble together and to make their matches for all their lewd and ungodly practices, being also the ordinary places for all masterless men and vagabond persons that haunt the highways to meet together and to recreate themselves. Whereof we begin to have experience again within these few days, since it pleased her highness to revoke her commission granted forth to the provost marshal, for fear of home they retired themselves for the time to other parts out of this precinct, but are now returned to their old haunt and frequent the plays (as their manner is) that are daily showed at the Theatre and Bankside, whereof will follow the same inconveniences whereof we have had too much experience heretofore, for preventing whereof we are humble suitors to your good lordships and the rest, to direct your letters to the justices of the peace of Surrey and Middlesex for the present stay and final suppressing of the said plays, as well at the Theatre and Bankside as in all other places about the city, whereby we doubt not but that the opportunity and very cause of so great disorders being taken away, we shall be able to keep the people of this city in such good order and due obedience as that her highness and your highnesses shall be well pleased and content therewithal. And so most humbly we take our leave. From London the 18th of September 1595.
    your highnesses' most humble
    To the right honourable the lords and others of her majesty’s most honourable privy council

  • Endnote

    The lord mayor probably now had two theatres to worry about on Bankside, both the Rose and Francis Langley's new Swan playhouse in Paris Garden. The mayor had previously expressed anxiety about Langley's intention to erect his playhouse in a letter to Lord Burghley on 3 November 1594 (LMA: COL/RMD/PA/01/002, ff 33–3v). The letter will be included in the forthcoming Swan Playhouse collection in the REED series, but for a previous transcription see Chambers and Greg, 'Remembrancia,' pp 74–6.

    This copy of a letter from Sir John Spencer, lord mayor of London, in 1595, is preserved in the city's Remembrancia, ff 52v–3.

    For an abstract of the document and details of its transcription history, see the related EMLoT event record.

  • Event Entity Pages
  • Document Description

    Record title: Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Privy Council
    Repository: LMA
    Shelfmark: COL/RMD/PA/01/002
    Repository location: London

    January 1593/4–October 1609; English; paper; 178 leaves; 330mm x 230mm; modern pencil foliation (used here) over ink foliation 1A, 1B–119 (with later entry numbers); some pages repaired; bound in white vellum on boards with tooled heraldic shield, title on spine in black ink (first word written sideways): 'Remembrancia. | II | 1593 | 35 Eliz. | 1609 | 7. Jacob.' Entries individually numbered in later pencil; the relevant entry is numbered 103.

  • Manuscript Images

    © London Metropolitan Archives (City of London), COL/RMD/PA/01/002

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