Patrons and Performances


Henry Berkeley (REED PP), 7th Baron Berkeley, sponsored companies of players as early as 1557 and as late as 1611-12. Several variant spellings of the family name are associated with these players (REED PP): Lord Bartholomew's Players, 1581; Lord Barlett's Players, 1582-1610; and Lord Barlys' Players, 1605. Two sets of entries in provincial records name the company as Lord Berkeley's players: one, in 1584 and 1611-12; and a second in 1557 and from 1577-1609. Chambers considered Berkeley's patronage to have been essentially continuous, even if different fellowships of players performed in the baron's name (II.103-4). Here, the company identified with 39 events by REED is the focus (REED PP).


Lord Berkeley's company was one of the most active and ubiquitous of the provincial organizations, and certainly one of the most long-lived in terms of stable patronage. They visited nearly every venue in the South, Central, and Western regions of England: Southeast (Dover, Canterbury), Midlands (Coventry), Southwest (Bath, Bristol), Southwest (Lyme Regis, Totnes, Dorcester), West Midlands (Gloucester, Leominster, Ludlow), and Northwest (York). As provincial companies routinely did, the companies played most frequently in civic halls. However in Dorset in 1607, the company performed at the George Inn (REED PP).
For one performance, there is more detail, including possibly the name of their play (now lost). Following the performance in Bristol between 6 and 12 July 1578, the recorder of the Mayor's Audits noted that "at thend of their play in the yeld hall before master mayer and thaldermen" the company was paid x s. He added, "the matter was what mischeif workith in the mynd of man" (REED Bristol, 116).
A couple of details associated with companies designated by variant forms of "Berkeley" round out the provincial record. Taken together, these companies add the following towns to locations on tour: Exeter, Barnstaple, Hythe, and Fordwich (REED PP); Bridgewater (REED PP); and Newcastle upon Tyne (REED PP). There are also additional venues. In 1611-12, one of these companies performed at Caludon Castle, Coventry, in conjunction with a dinner attended by the mayor and other Coventry VIPs (REED PP). In Newcastle, the company performed at Merchants' Court.
In comparison with this wealth of information about provincial activity, the one record of Berkeley's players in London appears an anomaly. It occurred in July in 1581 and concerned a physical dust-up with some men from the Inns of Court (for details, see Events). However, if Berkeley's men were as busy in the provinces as records suggest, yet in London also, the odds are that they were in London with some frequency, even if not with the intention of establishing a regular presence.


Arthur King

Thomas Goodale

A great deal of information is known about Thomas Goodale, comparatively speaking. Resources include Nungezer, Eccles, and Kathman. Suffice it here to say that, in addition to turning up in records for Berkeley's players in 1581, Goodale is named in the Plot of the second part of The Seven Deadly Sins, where he is assigned 4 apparently minor parts. His name also appears in Addition V to Sir Thomas More. He signed a bond with the players Robert Lee and John Alleyn (Eccles, 455). From these circumstances it is possible to consider Goodale as well-connected with the theatrical world for twenty years or more, in London and the provinces. He married Alice Copland at St. Benet Fink in 1578/9, and records of christening and/or burial for three sons and two daughters are recorded in the parish of Allhallows, London Wall, 1584-90. He subsequently moved to St. Leonard, Shoreditch. Another son was born in that parish (1591) but buried in St. Botolph Algate where Goodale had moved by 1593; in St. Botolph Algate, two more of Goodale's were born and buried (1594/95, 1599).


Berkeley's players, specifically King and Goodale, were involved in an incident with Parr Stafferton, a Gray's Inn man. All three were imprisoned at the Counter. The incident turns up in London records. According to the city order, Stafferton "brought a disordered companye of of gentleman of the Innes of Courte & others, to assalte Arthur Kynge, Thomas Goodale, and others, servauntes to the Lord Barkley, & players of Enterludes within the Cyttye." Consequently the men were "committed to the Compter in Wood street, and the said players lykewyse" (Chambers, 4.282).
In conjunction with the kerfuffle above, their patron interceded for them with the Lord Mayor, apologizing for their behavior ("some broile betwixt certaine of my men and some of the Innes of the Courte"). Apparently there was an additional transgression because Lord Berkeley apologizes for the company's having performed on a Sunday: "Otherwise behauing them selues honestly in euery respecte, as I cannot learne the contrary, saying that they played on the sabothe daie contrary to your order & commandment vnknowen to them, in respecte of that I yelde them faulty and they them selues craue pardon." He asks that they be set at liberty, and he assures the mayor that they are "going into the Countrie to auoide querrell or other inconuenience that mought followe." He gives his word that they "shalbe fourth-coming" to answer any question that might arise (Chambers, 4.282).

Works Cited

Eccles, Mark. "Elizabethan Actors II: E-J." Notes and Queries 236 (1991): 454-61.
Kathman, David. "Reconsidering The Seven Deadly Sins." Early Theatre 7.1 (2004):13-44.
Nungezer, Edwin. A Dictionary of Actors. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929.

Pages in category "Berkeley's"

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