Henry Richmond, Part 2

Robert Wilson (1599)

Historical Records


To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 65 (Greg I.113)

Receaued of mr Ph: Hinchlow by a note }
vnder the hand of mr Rob: Shaw in full }
payment for the second pt of Henrye }
Richmond sold to hime & his Companye } viijli
the som[m]e of eight powndes Current moneye }
the viijt daye of November 1599 ... }
          By me R Wilson


Philip Henslowe's papers in the Dulwich College Library

Autograph note, Robert Shaa (Shaw) to Philip Henslowe, 8 November 1599 (Greg, Papers MS. I. 27, Art. 26, p. 49 [1]):

mr Henshlowe we haue heard their booke and lyke yt their pryce is eight poundes, wch J pray pay now to mr wilson, according to our promysse, J would haue Come my selfe, but that J ame trobled wth a seytation.
yors Robt Shaa

[on the back of Shaa's note, also in his hand]

1. Sce Wm Wor; & Ansell & to them ye plowghmen

2. Sce: Richard Q. & Eliza: Catesbie, Louell, Rice ap Tho: Blunt, Banester

3. Sce: Ansell Dauye Denys Hen: Oxf: Courtney Bourchier & Grace to them Rice ap Tho: & his Soldiors

4. Sce: Mitton Ban : his wyfe & children

5. Sce: K Rich : Catesb : Louell. Norf. Northumb : Percye

[6. C. and Q. Eliza.     7. Dauye. C. Daugr (in Memoirs, omitted in Papers).   9. C. Milton.]

Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's Men bought this play in November 1599 while they were still at the Rose, before the move to the Fortune in the fall of 1600. Across Maid Lane, they could see the newly-built Globe in operation, where a likely offering was (or had recently been) Shakespeare's Henry V. They bought "Owen Tudor," a play related in historical and genealogical subject matter, the following January (1600).

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

In addition to identifying Richard III and Henry Richmond, Greg II offers the following identification of characters in the rough outline provided with Robert Shaa's authorization of payment (pp. 207-8, #189):

• Wm Wor[sley]: William Worsley, dean of St. Paul's, 1479-93
• Ansell: perhaps a confusion of Friar Anselem, whose ghost appears in Edward IV, with Dr. Shaw, prebendary of London and brother of the Lord Mayor; Shaw was employed by Richard Duke of Gloucester to preach at Paul's cross, 22 June 1493, against the legitimacy of the children of Edward IV
• Q[ueen]: Anne Neville, wife of Richard
• Eliza[beth]: probably Elizabeth, widow of Edward IV; but possibly his daughter, later wife of Henry Duke of Richmond after his attainment to the throne as Henry VII
• Rice ap Tho[mas]: Rhys ap Thomas, the supporter of Richmond
• Blunt: Sir James Blount, younger son of Walter, first baron Mountjoy
• Oxf[ord]: John de Vere, thirteenth earl; supporter of Richmond
• Courtney: Edward Courtenay, created Earl of Devonshire on Henry’s accession; or, his son William, knighted of the Bath in 1487, a courtier of Henry’s; or Peter Courtenay, bishop of Exeter, keeper of the privy seal to Henry VII
• Bourchier: Cardinal Thomas Bourchier, great uncle of Henry, second Earl of Essex, in Henry VII’s privy council; he crowned Richard III, and married Henry VII
• Catesby: William Catesb[y], a favorite of Richard III, beheaded after Bosworth Field
• Louell: Francis Lovell, first Viscount Lovell, a favorite of Richard III
• Norf[olk]: John Howard, first duke of that family, privy councilor and earl-marshal under Richard III, slain at Bosworth
• Northumb[erland]: Henry Percy, fourth Earl, a follower of Richard III, who switched to Henry VII after Bosworth
• Percye: his son, afterwards the fifth earl

Greg does not offer historical counterparts for the ploughmen, Banester, Davye, Denys, Grace, and Mitton Ban.

References to the Play

None known, except for - just possibly - the Heywood passage discussed under "For What It's Worth".

Critical Commentary

Greg II, in addition to providing possible identifications of characters, explains the designation of the play as a second part by suggesting that it might have been "intended as a sequel to Edward IV," the two-part play owned by Derby's Men and written by Thomas Heywood (#189, p. 208 Item).

Knutson suggests a different serial connection (23-24). She offers "Owen Tudor" as a plausible first part, based on the familial relationship of Tudor as grandfather to Richmond (Owen Tudor married Catherine of Valois, widow of Henry V; their son, Edmund, was Richmond's father). In a note on the possible serial relationship (35n), Knutson points out that Robert Wilson was one of the dramatists on the "Owen Tudor" project, the payment for which (80s.), if added to that for the Richmond play (160s.) equals 240s. or the equivalent of two completed plays. Considering the rather loose connection between the historical characters featured, she adds that "Elizabethan audiences didn't seem to mind if their serials were not all that sequential" (35n).

Bradley characterizes the handwritten note as a "unique 'doodle' of a Plot," and the story itself as focused on "the flight and capture of the Duke of Buckingham and the landing of Henry Richmond" (20). In a note on these comments, Bradley refers to "the chronicle and ballad material on which the story is based" but does not name specific sources; he posits "an acting complement of sixteen men and four boys" from the narrative outline in Shaa's hand on the back of the note to Henslowe (249-50, n27).

Wiggins, Catalogue (1213) argues that the preceding play is otherwise unevidenced, and calls it "Henry Richmond, Part One".

For What It's Worth

Who are Banister and Mitton?

As Martin Wiggins observes, Greg's mysterious "Mitton Ban" is in fact two different people: Mitton, and "Ban", i.e. the Banister mentioned earlier in the document (Wiggins, 1213). Who these people are; what their roles might have been in the play; and why Banister's wife and children are mentioned; are matters all perhaps best illustrated by lengthy quotation from Holinshed's description of the early stages of Richmond's rising, and the last days of the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham, having broken with Richard III, puts together an army of "wild Welshmen" in the hope of joining up with the other rebels. But he is unable to cross the Severn, and his army abandon him when their food runs short:

The duke (being thus left almost post alone) was of necessitie compelled to flie, and in flight was with this sudden fortune maruellouslie dismaid: and being vnpurneied what counsell he should take, and what waie he should follow, like a man in despaire, not knowing what to doo, of verie trust & confidence conueied himselfe into the house of Humfreie Banaster his seruant beside Shrewesburie, whome he had tenderlie brought vp, and whome he aboue all men loued, fauoured, and trusted; now not doubting but that in his extreame necessitie he should find him faithfull, secret, and trustie, intending there couertlie to lurke, till either he might raise againe a new armie, or else shortlie to saile into Britaine to the earle of Richmond.

Richard starts a manhunt, and offers a reward of a thousand pounds for the capture of the fugitive Duke.

While this busie search was diligentlie applied and put in execution, Humfreie Banaster (were it more for feare of life and losse of goods, or allured & prouoked by the auaricious desire of the thousand pounds) he bewraied his guest and maister to Iohn Mitton then shiriffe of Shropshire; which suddenlie with a strong power of men in harnesse apprehended the duke in a little groue adioining to the mansion of Humfreie Banaster, and in great hast and euill speed conueied him apparelled in a pilled blacke cloake to the towne of Shrewesburie, where king Richard then kept his houshold. Whether this Banaster bewraied the duke more for feare than couetous, manie men doo doubt: but sure it is, that shortlie after he had betraied the duke his master; his sonne and heire waxed mad, & so died in a bores stie; his eldest daughter of excellent beautie, was suddenlie striken with a foule leprosie; his second sonne maruellouslie deformed of his lims, and made lame; his yoonger sonne in a small puddle was strangled and drowned; and he being of extreame age, arreigned, and found guiltie of a murther, and by his cleargie saued. And as for his thousand pounds, K. Richard gaue him not one farthing, saieng that he which would be vntrue to so good a maister, would be false to all other: howbeit some saie that he had a small office or a farme to stop his mouth withall.
Holinshed, The Third volume of Chronicles (1586), 743.

Versions of Banister

Humphrey Banister himself featured in at least two other early modern dramas about Richard III. One is the anonymous True Tragedy of Richard III (1594), in which he appears for one scene, betraying Buckingham to his pursuers and being cursed by him in return. The other is reported in a jest-book compiled by the Caroline playwright Robert Chamberlain.

Sundry mistakes spoken publickly upon the Stage.
IN the Play of Richard the third; the Duke of Buckingham being betraid by his servant Banister, a Messenger comming hastily into the presence of the King, to bring him word of the Dukes surprizall, Richard asking him what newes he replyed:
My Liege, the Duke of Banister is tane,
And Buckingham is come for his reward.
Chamberlain, A new booke of mistakes (1637), D1v.

Taken at face value, this indicates the existence of an otherwise unknown Richard III play in which Banister features as a character. This could be our play, although there are also other possible candidates, for instance, the Admiral's Men's own play "Richard Crookback", commissioned from Jonson in 1602, or the anonymous and undated "Richard III, or the English Prophet". Additionally, one should note that Wiggins provisionally assigns this couplet to the hypothetical 1 Henry Richmond. Elsewhere in early modern print, Banister is frequently invoked as an example of Judas-like ingratitude: see, for instance, the accounts listed below in connection with his children.

Versions of his children

The Banister children do not appear on stage in other known versions of the Richard III story, but their story is retold often in early modern literature, with very little variation from Holinshed in the circumstances of their four horrible fates. Some of these retellings relate specifically to the context of the Wars of the Roses, but most are homiletic, where the four children are cited as exemplary victims of God's revenge. The following is a chronological list of some of the earlier retellings, although there are others:

William Baldwin, The last part of the Mirour for magistrates (1578), 151. [This is in the context of a monologue by the dead Duke of Buckingham].
[William Lightfoot], The complaint of England (1587), D4v-E1r.
Thomas Beard, The theatre of Gods iudgements (1597), 221.
Lancelot Dawes, Two sermons preached at the assises holden at Carlile (1614), 17-18.
Joseph Bentham, The Christian conflict (1635), 282.
Charles Aleyn, The historie of… Henrie of that Name the Seventh (1638), 5.
Herbert Percy, Certaine conceptions (1650), 157-8.

Banister's wife

Interestingly, the only exception so far noted to this consistency is in the work of Thomas Heywood. Heywood tells a slightly different version of the story, in which there are only two children (strangled and drowned); in which Banister himself is actually hanged; and in which Banister's wife goes mad and dies. This is striking because it is the only allusion yet discovered to Banister's wife, other than, of course, the lost play under discussion.

Of this Banister, and how his falsnesse to his Lord was punisht in him and his posterity, much hath been spoken, as that his wife died distracted, his sonne was found strangled with a cord, his daughter found drowned in a shallow puddle of water, and hee suffered on the gallows for a robbery, and that since that day even to this age, none of that House and Family, but have some or other of the name beene troubled with the falling sicknesse: a good caveat for all corrupt and perfidious servants.
Thomas Heywood, The life of Merlin, sirnamed Ambrosius (1641), 285.

Shakespeare's Banister

Buckingham's capture is mentioned in Shakespeare's Richard III, 4.4.510-535, although Shakespeare omits any mention of Banister or Mitton. But Banister does make an appearance in the Shakespeare canon. He is alluded to in Shakespeare and Fletcher's Henry VIII, where the Duke of Buckingham, betrayed and on his way to execution, observes that the same thing happened to his father:

My noble father, Henry of Buckingham,
Who first raised head against usurping Richard,
Flying for succour to his servant Banister,
Being distress'd, was by that wretch betray'd,
And without trial fell; God's peace be with him!

This play's Jacobean audiences could have been familiar with the story of Banister through Elizabethan dramatizations such as Henry Richmond, Part 2. And given that connection, the continuation of Buckingham's speech is also interesting, because it alludes further to Banister, and also to the story of Henry and the Buckinghams.

Henry the Seventh succeeding, truly pitying
My father's loss, like a most royal prince,
Restored me to my honours, and, out of ruins,
Made my name once more noble. Now his son,
Henry the Eighth, life, honour, name and all
That made me happy at one stroke has taken
For ever from the world. I had my trial,
And, must needs say, a noble one; which makes me,
A little happier than my wretched father:
Yet thus far we are one in fortunes: both
Fell by our servants, by those men we loved most;
A most unnatural and faithless service!
Heaven has an end in all: yet, you that hear me,
This from a dying man receive as certain:
Where you are liberal of your loves and counsels
Be sure you be not loose; for those you make friends
And give your hearts to, when they once perceive
The least rub in your fortunes, fall away
Like water from ye, never found again
But where they mean to sink ye.

The Henry VIII allusion reminds us that Henry Richmond, Part 2 could be seen as part of the long loose cycle of English history plays, a cycle which does not consist solely of Shakespeare's two tetralogies.

Works Cited

Aleyn, Charles. The historie of that wise and fortunate prince, Henrie of that name the seventh, King of England . London: Thomas Cotes, 1638.
Baldwin, William. The last part of the Mirour for magistrates. London: Thomas Marsh, 1578.
Beard, Thomas. The theatre of Gods iudgements. London: Adam Islip, 1597.
Bentham, Joseph. The Christian conflict. London: G. Miller, 1635.
Bradley, David. From Text to Performance in the Elizabethan Theatre. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Chamberlain, Robert. A new booke of mistakes.. London: N.O., 1637.
Dawes, Lancelot. Two sermons preached at the assises holden at Carlile . Oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1614.
Heywood, Thomas. The life of Merlin, sirnamed Ambrosius. London, 1641.
Holinshed, Raphael. The Third Volume of Chronicles.. London: [Henry Denham], 1586.
Knutson, Roslyn L. “Toe to Toe Across Maid Lane: Repertorial Competition at the Rose and Globe, 1599-1600.” Acts of Criticism: Performance Matters in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries. Ed. June Schlueter and Paul Nelsen. Madison & Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005. 21-37.
[Lightfoot, William]. The Complaint of England. London: John Wolfe, 1587.
Percy, Sir Herbert. Certaine conceptions, or, Considerations of Sir Percy Herbert, upon the strange change of peoples dispositions and actions in these latter times directed to his sonne. London : E. G., 1650.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 9 February 2012. Additions by Matthew Steggle, April 2016.