John Duke first appears in theatrical records in connection with players' parts (see Roles, below). Apparently a hired man with the Chamberlain's men in the 1590s, he assumed a leadership role with Worcester's men around 1600. With that company, Duke moved to the newly constructed Boar's Head Playhouse (joined by players from the Earl of Oxford's men). By August 1602, Worcester's men had moved to the Rose playhouse to begin a run that Henslowe documented starting on 17 August. Henslowe's records show that Duke was frequently the company's player to be named as the recipient of loans for costumes, properties, and playbooks. He was also named in the last entry made by Henslowe with Worcester's men after the company had been authorized to resume playing on 9 May 1603 "by the kynges licence" (Fol. 121).
Under the new king, Duke's company acquired a license to become Queen Anne's men. Duke continued a leadership role, often being payee for the company's performances at court.
Duke lived with his wife and family in the vicinity of the playhouses north of the Thames. On 20 September 1596 he married Susan Mitten at St. Helen, Bishopsgate, and their "daughter susan was christened there thirteen days later" (Eccles, p. 47). Over the next thirteen years the Dukes christened eight children, five of whom died in childhood. Duke himself died in 1613 (his will is dated June 1 [Honigmann and Brock, p. 230). Eccles surmises that Duke "died in debt, for his widow Susan the next day renounced the administration of his estate" (p. 47).
"The Seven Deadly Sins," part two: Pursuivant ("Induction"), Attendant, Soldier ("Envy"), Will Fool ("Sloth"), Lord ("Lechery")
Every Man in his Humour: actor list