Gramercy Wit

Anon. (1621 or earlier)

Historical Records

From a Lord Chamberlain's warrant book, now Inner Temple Library MS. 515, No. 7.

2° Marcii. A warrant for allowance of xxtie nobles for one play acted by Ellisworth and his fellowes late servaunts to Queene Anne and now the Companie of the Revells the play called gramarcie witt on of 30th of December 1621 3li 6s 8d by way of reward.

(Murray, 2:192-3; see also Bentley, 5:1344)

Theatrical Provenance

The Company of the Revels, at court.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

The date is not certain, except that the play must have been in existence by December, 1621. G.E. Bentley notes that the Company of Revels was descended from Queen Anne's Men and continued to perform their old plays, so that "Grammercy Wit may have been written long before 1621" (5:1344).

Wiggins, Catalogue (entry 1984) observes that "the title seems to have been a phrase spoken in grateful acknowledgement of one's native intelligence". He thus suggests that "the play dealt with characters living by their wits, perhaps without the help of money, position, or other advantages".

For What It's Worth

The title is reminiscent of such extant plays as No Wit/Help Like a Woman's, Wit at Several Weapons, and Wit Without Money, and might imply that it was an intrigue comedy similar to those plays.

Site created and maintained by David Nicol, Dalhousie University; updated 15 May, 2020.