Category:Thomas Downton

Thomas Downtown was a player with a lengthy theatrical career. His early contacts brought him into the circle of professionals at the Rose playhouse (perhaps initially as a member of Strange's men), and he joined the Admiral's men in 1594. He moved to Pembroke's men c. 1596, but returned to the Admiral's when Pembroke's broke with Francis Langley and the Swan playhouse in late summer 1597. As Philip Henslowe's records of business at the Rose demonstrate, Downton was active not only in theatrical but also financial transactions. He remained with the company through its changes of patronage (Prince Henry's men, Palsgrave's men). Also, he changed residences from St. Saviour's to St. Giles Cripplegate when the company left the Rose for the Fortune playhouse in 1600 (Nungezer, pp. 117-19).

A feature of Downton's theatrical life was his apprentices, or "boys": for example, Thomas Parsons, who had a part in the 1602 revivals of The Battle of Alcazar and "1 Tamar Cham." (Kathman, p. 23).

Aspects of his personal life are also well documented. Apparently by his wife Ann ("Annes"), who died in 1618 (Eccles, p. 46), Downton (tagged as a "musycyon") was the father of Christopher, christened on 27 December 1592; Thomas, 25 May 1600 (tagged "baseborne"), Francis, 18 April 1597, and Thomas, 11 July 1621 (Nungezer, p. 119). After Ann's death, Downton married Jane Easton, acquiring thus the Red Cross tavern, which he ran until his death in 1625 (Eccles, p. 46). In his will, dated 5 August 1625, Downton reveals a family conflict, in that he gives his son "Thomas" his "librarie of books both of Devinitie & humainitie" except for those his wife might like to have (Honigmann and Brock, p. 146). He adds, "because my sonn hath bin a desperat sonn to me I giue a desperate legacy ffyfty powndes of one humdred & 30 ll which I haue sude to a Iudgment in the Court of pleas in the Checker office a<l>so I giue him one Ring of gould with a lyon Rampant & the 2 great lettres of his name" if he handles these bequests in an honorable fashion (Honigman and Brock, p. 146). He leaves his musket and £50 from the Court of Pleas suit to his son "Ed," and to his daughters he leaves Jane some money and the others "some little Remembrance" (Honigman and Brock, p. 147). Honigman and Brock, citing Bentley II, 426-7 suggest that the "Thomas" named in the will might have been the player with Queen Henrietta's men in 1628 and the King's Revels in 1635 (p. 148, n.).

Plots reflecting performances by the Admiral's men show Downton to have played Abdolmelec in the 1502 revival ofThe Battle of Alcazar and the role of Mango Cham in "1 Tamar Cham," plus a Tartar in the final procession (Nungezer, p 118)

Works Cited

Eccles, Mark. "Elizabethan Actors I: A-D," Notes and Queries 236.1 (1991): 38-48.
Honigmann, E. A. J. and Susan Brock. Playhouse Wills 1558-1642. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993.
Kathman, David. "Grocers, Goldsmiths, and Drapers: Freemen and Apprentices in the Elizabethan Theater," Shakespeare Quarterly" 55.1 (2004): 1-49.
Nungezer, Edwin. A Dictionary of Actors. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968 (orig. Yale University Press, 1929).


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Pages in category "Thomas Downton"

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