Six Yeomen of the West, The
- 1 Historical Records
- 2 Theatrical Provenance
- 3 Probable Genre(s)
- 4 Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
- 5 References to the Play
- 6 Critical Commentary
- 7 For What It's Worth
- 8 Works Cited
Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)
F. 87 (Greg I.137)
|Lent vnto wm hawghton the 20 of maye|
|1601 in earnest of the vj yemon of the weaste||xs|
|the some of . . .Lent more vnto wm hawghton . . .||vs|
F. 87v (Greg I.138)
|Lent at the a poyntment of Samwell Rowlye|
|the 4 daye of June 1601 vnto John daye in||xxxxs|
|part of payment of a Boocke called the vj yemon|
|of the weaste the some of . . .|
|pd at the a poyntment of Samell Rowlye|
|vnto wm hawghton in parte of paymente of||xvs|
|a Boocke called the vj yemon of the weste|
|the 6 of June 1601 the some of . . .|
|Lent vnto Samwell Rowleye the 8 of June|
|1601 to paye vnto wm howghton in fulle paymente||xxxs|
|of a Boocke called the vj yemon of the weste|
|the some of . . .|
Henslowe also mistakenly mentioned the title of "Six Yeomen of the West" when recording a payment intended for "The West Indies" (f. 87; Greg I.137):
|Lent vnto John daye the 21 of maye 1601|
|in earnest of a Boocke called the [vj yemen of the] weste||xxs|
|[enges] enges the some of . . .|
|at the a poyntment of Samwell Rowley|
Apparently Henslowe at first wrote "the weste enges," then crossed out the last word and corrected it to "the vj yemen of the weste," but ultimately deleted that revision and restored his original "the weste enges."
Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe Papers)
Article 35 (Greg, Henslowe Papers, 57)
[Samuel Rowley to Philip Henslowe, 4 June 1601 (?).]
- Mr henchloe J praye ye delyver the Reste of the Monye to John daye & wyll hawton dew to them of the syx yemen of the weste
[note in Day's hand:]
- J have occasion to be absent about the plott of the Jndyes therfre pray delyer it to will hamton sadler
- by me John Daye
[on the verso side are verses in Day's hand: see History play including the death of Percy]
Article 34 (Greg, Henslowe Papers, 56-57)
[Samuel Rowley to Philip Henslowe, 8 June 1601.]
- Mr hynchlye J praye ye dow so muche for vs Jf Jhon Daye & wyll houghton haue reseved but thre pounde ten shyllynges as to delyver them thurtye shyllynges more & take thare papers
- yors to comande
- Samuell Rowlye
Payments for Properties and Apparel (Henslowe's Diary)
F. 91 (Greg I.143)
|Lent vnto the company the j of July 1601|
|to bye divers thinges for the vj yemen of||xxxxs|
|the weaste the some of fortye shellengees|
|Lent vnto the littell tayller at the apoynt|
|ment of the 2 of July 1601 to bye divers||xxs|
|thinges for the vj yemen of the weste some of . . .|
|pd vnto the copere lace man the 2 of July 1601|
|at the a poyntment of the company for copere||xs|
|lace for the vj yemen of the weaste some . . .|
|pd at the a poyntment of the company the 3 of|
|Julye 1601 vnto the copere lace man for [die] lace||xs|
|for the vj yemon of the weaste some of|
|vmfrey geffes sewte|
|pd vnto the copere lace man for copere lace|
|for the vj yemen of the west the 4 of July||vjs|
|1601 the some of . . 10 a ownc . .36 onces . .|
F. 91v (Greg I.144)
|Lent vnto Robart shawe the 6 of|
|July 1601 to paye vnto the tayller||xviij|
|for mackynge of vmfry Jeaffes sewt||[xvjsjjs]|
|in the vj yemen the some of . . .|
|pd at the a poyntment of Robart shawe|
|the 6 of Julye 1601 vnto the littell||xvijs|
|tayller for mackynge of sewtes for|
|the vj yemen the some of . . .|
The Admiral's Men would have performed the play in the Fortune Theatre, although no performance dates are recorded. Henslowe's records indicate that Humphrey Jeffes performed in the play.
Comedy (?) (Harbage). Romance (Wiggins).
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
The play almost certainly dramatized Thomas Deloney's prose fiction Thomas of Reading, or, The Six Worthy Yeomen of the West. (The earliest extant copy is the fourth edition of 1612, although Will Kemp refers to Deloney's book in Kemp's Nine Days' Wonder, S.R. 22 April 1600.) It's unclear, however, how much of Deloney's narrative Day and Haughton would have adapted for their play, since several other proximate titles in Henslowe's Diary suggest that the Admiral's staged sequels based on the same source: "Tom Dough, Part 2" by Day and Haughton (July-Sept 1601) and the two-part "Six Clothiers of the West" by Hathway, Haughton, and Smith (Oct-Nov 1601). It's possible that Day and Haughton's "Six Yeomen of the West" only dramatized a portion of Deloney's book. Wiggins reasonably proposes that the first play may have dramatized the first seven chapters of Deloney's novel (see Critical Commentary below).
The novel takes place during the reign of Henry I and depicts various episodes featuring six prominent clothiers of western counties (Thomas Cole of Reading, Gray of Gloucester, Sutton of Salisbury, Fitzallen of Worcester, Tom Dove of Exeter, and Simon of Southampton) and three of northern counties (Cuthbert of Kendall, Hodgkins of Halifax, and Martin Byram of Manchester). As King Henry prepares to engage in battle with his older brother, Robert of Normandy, he is impressed by the success of the clothiers and the good they have done for the commonwealth. He asks them how he might best preserve their success, and they respond with complaints about the lack of a standardized cloth measure, the unwillingness of people to accept cracked coins, and the theft of drying cloth in Halifax. In response, King Henry assigns a standard measurement for the yard based on the length of his own arm, orders that all the money in England shall be split, and grants the privilege of execution without trial to punish cloth thieves in Halifax. When King Henry leaves to fight his brother in France, the clothiers assist him by sending supplies. Upon his return, he makes a royal progress through the west and is celebrated by each clothier in their respective city. At Exeter, for example, the King is presented with a show of Augustus Caesar, whose invasion of the city gave it its name (sig. E4r). If Wiggins is correct, the play would have ended with King Henry's triumphant return to London.
Other events from the first half of Deloney's novel may have been dramatized by Day and Haughton. One comic subplot involves Cuthbert of Kendall's surreptitious affair with the young wife of Old Bosom; when caught, Cuthbert is hung up in a basket as punishment. In another, the wives of the six clothiers travel to London and, dazzled by the city, demand to be dressed in the finery of the London merchants' wives. The wife of Simon of Southampton is denied until she feigns a grave illness and her husband accedes. The first half of Deloney's novel introduces the plot of Margaret, the daughter of the banished Earl of Shrewsbury, whose poverty compels her to work in the household of Gray of Gloucester, but the romantic plot, in which she is wooed by Robert of Normandy, is only developed in the novel's second half.
References to the Play
Collier (99-100) noted that the play was likely based on Deloney's Thomas of Reading and assumed the identity of the present play with "The Six Clothiers of the West," chastising Malone for having "deprived Hathwaye of his share" in the play by "erroneously represent[ing] them as distinct performances."
Hazlitt (213), like Collier, assumed the present play was the same as "The Six Clothiers of the West," which he thought the correct title.
Fleay proposed that "2 Tom Dough" was a sequel to "The Six Yeomen" (BCED, 1:108) and noted that "The Six Clothiers" was "[e]vidently not the same story as The Six Yeomen of the West, as usually asserted" (274).
Greg ("Review," 102), noting the multiple adaptations of Deloney's Thomas of Reading, comments: "That a single novel should have furnished matter for four plays within a twelvemonth is perhaps a record."
Devine (591) categorizes "Six Yeomen" as a "citizen comedy" such as Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday and William Rowley's The Shoemaker a Gentleman.
Wiggins (4:301) suggests that "Six Yeomen" dramatized the first seven chapters of Thomas of Reading, ending before the murder of the eponymous Thomas Cole: "The resultant narrative, drawn from the first seven chapters, is structurally not dissimilar to that of another Admiral's Men dramatization of Deloney, The Gentle Craft" (i.e., Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday).
For What It's Worth
Some scholars (e.g. Wiggins, 4:302) encounter difficulty reconciling the payment record in the Diary with Rowley's letter to Henslowe saying that Day and Haughton had received £3 10s and required 30s more. However, no difficulty arises if one considers the 5s disbursed to Haughton on May 20 as payment for the play and attributes the May 21 payment to "The West Indies."
Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 10 June 2017.