Hill's list is reproduced and discussed here. The tenth item on it is:
- Spanish Preferment
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
References to the Play
Nothing else is known of a play with this title, and like other equally mysterious plays on Hill's List, one cannot even be sure that it is from the pre-1642 period (although most of the identifiable plays and playwrights on Hill's List are Jacobean and Caroline). Adams compares similar play-titles including The Spanish Purchase, recorded on Warburton's List, and "The Spanish Viceroy". Bentley adds, rather testily, that there are numerous other extant and non-extant plays which also feature the word "Spanish" in their title. (Adams, 83; Bentley, 5.1410). Both Bentley and Adams assume that there is a "The" to be supplied to the title, but no "The" is present in the one extant record. Adams adds that it is "hardly plausible" to actually identify "Spanish Preferment" with The Spanish Purchase.
For What It's Worth
EEBO-TCP can offer no obvious help at the time of writing. Presumably, "Spanish preferment", like "Dutch courage" or "French leave", is a back-handed phrase. It would imply an appointment motivated by Spanish treachery (cf. OED, Spanish a.1 3a).
Adams, Joseph Quincy. “Hill’s List of Early Plays in Manuscript.” The Library 4th Ser., 20.1 (1939): 71-99. Print.
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