Canimore and Lionley

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Under construction

Historical Records

Performance records

Cast list

A cast list for the play is recorded in British Library, Additional MS 38599, a manuscript miscellany by Richard Shann, a member of the gentry from the Yorkshire village of Methley. The following transcription is based on that prepared by Rollins:

   This yeare 1614. A verie fyne Historie or Stage Plaie called Cannimore and Lionley. was Ackted by xvijth men & boyes vpon Monday, Twesdaie, Wednesdaie, and Thursdaie in whitsonne weeke; the names of the plaiers was these =
[1] Richard dickonsonne: the Kinges parte {Gramay.
[2] francis Shanne: the kynges sonne.
3. Robert Shanne: the kynges daughter, called Lionley.
4. Richard Shanne: the maid to lionley, called Meldina.
5. Thomas Shanne: A knight called Brocadon.
6. Thomas Shanne: A Duke called duke Gurdon.
7. Thomas Burton: Earle Carthagan.
8. Thomas Scofeild: Earle Edios.
9. Francis Burton: A kinge Padamon sonne, called Canimore.
10. Thomas Jobsonne: the first Venterus knight.
11. Thomas Shann: de hungait, the second Ventrus knight.
12. Robert Marshall: A knight, & ye sword bearer.
13. William Burton: the Cuntri man & the Geote [?].
14. William Burton his sonne: Invention, the paracite.
15. Richard Burton
16. Thobie Burton: A page
17. Gilberte Roberte: one of the Commans parte.
   This plaie was Acted by these men in A Barne belonginge to the Pocoke place, hard by the parsonage, wher vnto resorted A multitude of people to se the same; the greatest daie was vpon Tewsdaie in whit-sonne weeke; the tent[h] parte of the people could not se it vpon that daie
(British Library, Additional MS 38599, fol. 71r-v; qtd. Rollins 133)

Wasson (151) interprets Rollins's "Gramay" as "Graniorn," McGee as "Graman." Wasson (152), Wiggins (#1749) and O'Neill (197) interpret Rollins's "Geote" as "Ghost," McGee as "Ideote."

The contents of the Shann manuscript are discussed in detail by O'Neill (see esp. 211–15 for a table of contents).

Theatrical Provenance

The play was performed on four nights—13 June to 16 June 1614—in a barn near the parsonage of Methley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The all-male cast included members of the Shann and Burton families.

Probable Genre(s)

Knightly romance (Wasson).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

[Under construction.]

References to the Play

None known. (Information welcome.)

Critical Commentary

Wasson (151), based on the list of characters, describes the play as a "knightly romance," a surprising genre given the tendency for parish plays to be folk plays or religious plays. Wasson also found the casting of male actors in female roles to be unusual given the frequency of women performing in parish plays, suggesting it may have been a school play performed by male students (153). For Wasson, it was "clearly a Methley play, hardly a private family performance" and the staging "in a big barn near the parsonage, not in a manor house, underlies the conclusion that Canimore and Lionley was a parish production" (152). While not proposing a specific narrative source, Wasson imagines the play to have been "a fairly typical knightly romance, of the sort Sir Philip Sidney distrusted because they appealed to common emotions rather rather than to intellect, and because they jumped from one country to another and skipped over years instead of obeying the classical unities" (154). (Wasson finds it possible but not likely that the play was an adaptation of Shakespeare and Fletcher's "Cardenio" and that "Cardenio and Luscinda became Canimore and Lionley by the time the script reached Yorkshire" [150].)


For What It's Worth

Works Cited

McGee, C. E., ed. "Methley 1443–1614" [pre-publication record]. Records of Early English Drama North-East. Durham University. 6 March 2018. Accessed 23 September 2020.
O’Neill, Ellen. "Amateur Theatre in Early Modern England: the Shann Manuscript in Context." Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England 33 (2020): 188–224.
Rollins, Hyder E. "Ballads from Additional MS. 38,599." PMLA 38 (1923): 133–52.
Wasson, John M. "A Parish Play in the West Riding of Yorkshire." In English Parish Drama. Ed. Alexandra F. Johnston and Wim Hüsken. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996. 149–57.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, affiliation; updated 23 September 2020.