Nobleman, The

Tourneur, Cyril (1611)

Historical Records

Stationers' Register

15 February 1611 [i.e. 1612] (S.R.I, 3.478 (CLIO)

Edward Blunte Entred for his Copy vnder th'[h]andes of Sir GEORGE BUC[KE] and
Th'wardens, A Play booke being a Tragecomedye called, The
Noble man written by CYRILL TOURNEUR . . . . . . vjd

09 September 1653 (S.R.II, 1.429 CLIO)

Master Mosely Entred also . . . the severall playes following . . xxs vjd
The Nobleman or Great man, by Cyrill Tourneur.

Revels Accounts


The, names, of the Playes And by what Cumpaney Played
them hearafter ffollowethe: As Allso what Maskes, and Triumphes
att the Tilte waere presented before the kinges Matie in this year. 1612

The Kings Players:          S\sh/roue; Sunday; A play Called the Noblman

(The National Archive, AO 3/908/14, ff. 1v, 2r; qtd. MSC 13, 49.)

View a digitisation via the Folger Shakespeare Library's Shakespeare Documented exhibition.

To John Heminges for himselfe and his fellowes upon a Warrant dated 1 June 1612 for presenting vj severall Playes before his Maty viz one upon the laste of October one upon the first of November one on the 5th of Novr one on the 26th Decr one on the 5th of January and one other upon Shrovesunday at night being the 23rd of February viz at twenty nobles for every play and five markes for a Reward for every play ... ... ... lxli. (Cunningham, Revels at Court, xl-xli)

Accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber

Item 47b (Cook 55-6):

Item paid to Iohn Heminges vppon the Cowncells warrant dated att Whitehall xx0 Die Maij 1613 for presentinge before the Princes Highnes the Lady Elizabeth and the Prince Pallaytne Elector fowerteene severall playes viz one playe called ‡ Pilaster, One other called the Knott: of Fooles, One other Much adoe abowte nothinge, The ‡ Mayeds Tragedy, The merye Dyvell of Edmonton, The Tempest, A Kinge and no Kinge The Twins Tragedie The Winters Tale, Sr Iohn Falstafe, The Moore of Venice, The Nobleman, Caesars Tragedye And one other called Love Lyes a bleedinge, All wch Playes weare played wthin the tyme of this Accompte, viz pd the some of . . . . . . iiijxxxiijli vjs viiijd

(Cook, 55-6)


Music for a play, called "The Nobleman", appears in British Library Add. MS 10444, no.55, transcribed by Nicholas L'Estrange:

BL Mus Add 10444 fo 55v Nobleman.jpg BL Mus Add 10444 fo 82r Nobleman.jpg
BL Add. MS 10444, fo.55v. BL Add. MS 10444, fo.82r.

British Library Add. MS. 10444, reproduced with permission

This music has been professionally recorded for the Lost Plays Database by Ludovico's Band, using modern copies of historical instruments (Marshall McGuire - triple harp, Shane Lestideau - baroque violin, Samantha Cohen - theorbo, and Ruth Wilkinson - viola da gamba). Recorded in the Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre on December 15, 2016 (sound engineer: Alex Stinson). Press play below to hear this musical fragment:

Wiggins (#1643) notes that further music headed "The Nobleman" was included in a lute-book (BL Add. MS 38539, fo. 19r, from c.1613-16; and in a MS lute-book now lost (Königsberg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, MS S.S.25, fos. 11v-12r).

King's Men repertory list (1641)

On 7 August 1641, the Earl of Essex (now Lord Chamberlain) required the Stationers' Company to forbid the printing of King's Men plays without the company's consent (the desire to protect their plays having been occasioned by the onset of plague and the consequent closure of the theatres from 5 August til the end of November 1641) (Bentley 1.65).

The list of plays specified includes "The Nobleman."

(See the list in full here)

Warburton's list

"The Nobleman T.C. Cyrill Turnuer" appears as one of the last plays noted by John Warburton (1682-1759) in his list of the unprinted MS plays allegedly in his collection until destroyed by Warburton’s cook:

Lansdowne ms 807 f001v.jpg

(British Library, Lansdowne MS 807, fo.1v. Reproduced by permission of the British Library. Click image to view full page; click here for more information on Warburton's list)

Theatrical Provenance

The play was performed at Whitehall by the King's Men on 23 February 1612, and was one of 20 performed by the King’s Men at court through the winter holiday season of 1612-13.

Probable Genre(s)

Tragicomedy (Stationer's Register, Warburton).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

(Information welcome)

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

John P. Cutts discusses the musical score digitised above (BL Add.MS 10444):

A transcript of this version appeared in Allardyce Nichol's edition of Tourneur (London, 1929). The treble part alone has been transcribed, nor is there any mention of the bass part which occurs in the same manuscript. The error due to omission is, however, considerably less than that which has resulted from the treble part being written out with the bass clef-sign. The sharp sign against a note on the fourth line of the stave has led the transcriber to the conclusion that the note was F# below middle C; similarly flat signs against notes in the fourth and first spaces were read as Eb and Ab in the bass clef, so the whole piece of music was transcribed exactly as it stands in the manuscript, with the treble clef altered to the bass clef.

Apart from the significance of the earlier dating of 10444 as a whole and the existence of this particular piece alongside Robert Johnson's music for the masque of' Oberon ', I61 1-2, a lute version of the piece is contained, in 38539 dated c. I613-I6, which makes it almost exactly contemporary with the production of the play. Moreover, within 38539 occur " the witches dance " and " the Faryis dance " which belong to Jonson's ' Masque of Queenes ' I609 and ' Oberon' respectively. From the lute version it has been possible to correct the I0444 version which is corrupt not only from the omission of accidentals but also in the valuation of notation between the treble and bass parts which do not agree. (195)

For What It's Worth

W. C. Hazlitt notes in his A Manual for the Collector and Amateur of Old English Plays (1892), p.167: "Dr Furnivall told me many years ago that the MS. was in the hands of a gentleman at Oxford, who was editing Tourneur's Works; but I have heard nothing further of it" (Internet Archive). The MS has not been traced subsequently.

Works Cited

Cutts, John P. "Jacobean Masque and Stage Music". Music and Letters 35 (1954): 185-200.
Hazlitt, W. C. A Manual for the Collector and Amateur of Old English Plays (1892) (Internet Archive).
Malone Society Collections 13, Jacobean and Caroline Revels Accounts, 1603–1642, ed. W. R. Streitberger. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 06 January 2017.