Nativity Play at Court

Anon. (1631)

N.B. This lost play is untitled. The title offered here for convenience is that used by Wiggins.

Historical Records


The play was mentioned in a letter from Thomas Tuke to Sir William Armine, dated 10 February 1632:

The common fame is that the Queen has not been at masse this month: sure it is she was not at their play at midnight on Christmas eue, when they acted the Virgin's deliuery & bringing to bed, & the birth of Christ, & his lying ith manger etc. Which made some of her French followers pout. And that the king has crost of late some sunday night – masking & has been heard to say he will haue no more masking & dauncing on those nights. And there I pray God he may continue, & incline his heart to all goodnes, & Her's also to loue the truth, & hate the idolatries & errors, shee has been nuzzled up in, and Both of them to study & doo such thinges as may tend to God's glory, & to reioyce the h<...> of all such as fear God & wish the welfare of the Church & State:
(Somerset Heritage Centre, DD/FJ 25, fol. [1v]*; qtd. REED: Lincolnshire 1:352)

Tuke (1580/1-1657) was the vicar of St. Olave Jewry and an author of numerous religious tracts.

Theatrical Provenance

Performed at Whitehall Palace in December 1631. Tuke's letter describes the play as taking place "midnight on Christmas eue" although this might be taken to mean that the play was technically performed on 25 December 1631.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Presumably based on the Gospel accounts of Jesus' nativity (Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-7).

References to the Play

None known. (Information welcome.)

Critical Commentary

Wiggins (#2352) notes that the fact Queen Henrietta Maria's absence was remarked upon might indicate that King Charles was present.

For What It's Worth

Queen Henrietta Maria had herself given birth to a daughter, Mary, on 4 November 1631.

Works Cited

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 12 March 2021.