Privy Council Letter to the Master of the Revels and JPs of Middlesex and Surrey

TNA: PC 2/23

p 181 (19 February) (Whitehall)


A lettre to the Master of the Revelles and Iustices of Peace and of Middlesex & Surrey. Whereas licence hath bin graunted vnto two Companies of Stage Players retayned vnto vs the Lord Admyral and Lord Chamberlain, to vse and practise Stage Playes, whereby they might be the better enhabled and prepared to shew such plaies before her Maiestie as they shalbe required at tymes meete and accustomed, to which ende they haue bin Cheefelie licensed and tollerated as aforesaid: And whereas there is also a third Company who of late (as wee are informed) haue by waie of intrusion vsed likewise to play<.>, having neither prepared any plaie for her Maiestie, nor are bound to yow, the Masters of the Revelles, for perfourming such orders as haue bin prescribed, and are enioyned to be obserued by the other two Companies before mencioned; Wee haue therefore thought good to require yow, vpon receipt heereof to take order that the aforesaid third Company may be suppressed, and none suffered heere after to plaie; but those two formerlie named belonging to vs the lord admiral's players Lord Admyrall and Lord Chamberlaine, vnles yow shall receaue other direccion from vs. And so &c./


  • Footnotes
    • A: in display script
    • Master of the Revelles: Edmund Tilney (1535/6–1610), master of the Revels, 1579–1610
    • Lord Admyral: Charles Howard, tenth earl of Nottingam and lord admiral 1585–1618/19
    • Lord Chamberlain: George Carey, second Baron Hunsdon and lord chamberlain of the Household, 1597–1603
  • Modernized Text

    p 181 (19 February) (Whitehall)


    A letter to the master of the Revels and justices of the peace of Middlesex and Surrey. Whereas license has been graunted unto two companies of stage players retained unto us, the Lord Admiral and Lord Chamberlain, to use and practice stage plays, whereby they might be better enabled and prepared to show such plays before her majesty as they shall be required at times meet and accustomed, to which end they have been chiefly licensed and tolerated, as aforesaid; and whereas there is also a third company of late (as we are informed) have by way of intrusion used likewise to play, having neither prepared any play for her majesty, nor are bound to you, the master of the Revels, for performing such orders as have been prescribed, and are enjoined to be observed by the other two companies before mentioned; we have therefore thought good to require you, upon receipt hereof, to take order that the aforesaid third company may be suppressed, and none suffered hereafter to play, but those two formerly named, belonging to us the Lord Admiral and Lord Chamberlain, unless you shall receive the other direction from us. And so, etc.


  • Endnote

    The third company that had drawn the ire of the privy council is not identified here but this letter provides evidence that attempts to limit the number of companies and playhouses in the London area continued to be unsuccessful. The Lord Admiral's Men remained based at the Rose until 1600, when the Fortune playhouse opened in Finsbury north of the city wall.

    The privy councillors listed as present at the meeting (p 177) were John Whitgift (c 1530–1604), archbishop of Canterbury, 1583–1603/4; Sir Thomas Egerton (1540–1617), lord keeper of the Great Seal, 1596–1603; Sir William Cecil (c 1520–98), lord treasurer, 1572–98; Robert Devereux (1565–1601), nineteenth earl of Essex, earl marshal, 1597–1601; George Carey (c 1548–1603), second Baron Hunsdon, lord chamberlain of the Household, 1585–96; Roger North (1531–1600), Lord North; Thomas Sackville (c 1536–1608), first Baron Buckhurst; Sir William Knollys (c 1545–1632), comptroller of the Household, 1596–1632; and Sir John Fortescue (1533–1607).

    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: Privy Council Letter to the Master of the Revels and JPs of Middlesex and Surrey
    Repository: TNA
    Shelfmark: PC 2/23
    Repository location: Kew

    20 September 1597–30 July 1598; English; paper; iii + 214 + i; 405mm x 253mm; ink pagination 1–362, unpaginated index in a different hand (34 leaves); bound in maroon leather over boards, tooled, title on spine in gilt: 'ELIZABETH. | VOL. XIV. | COUNCIL | REGISTER. | 20. SEP. 1597. | TO | 30. JULY. 1598.'

  • Manuscript Images

    The National Archives (UK), ref. PC 2/23

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