Untitled play for Royal reception

Martin Lluelyn (1661)

Historical Records

In a letter dated 04 July 1661, Timothy Halton of Queen's College wrote to Joseph Williamson to apprise him of plans for the royal reception: "The play is made by Dr. Llewellyn, but they are so in want of actors, that they fear being obliged to make use of the Red Bull players, now in Oxford" (National Archives, SP 29/39 f.24).

Theatrical Provenance

Halton was still at Queen's College at this time, and the plans may have pertained to entertainment at his own college. Lluelyn's college, Christ Church, had the largest hall of any of the colleges and there had been a long tradition of royal dramatic entertainments during the Tudor and early Stuart periods; it might alternatively have been the projected venue for the Royal reception.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues


References to the Play

The only reference is Halton's, above; see also the entry for Lluelyn's untitled degree play of 1640, which may (at least in theory) be relevant here.

Critical Commentary

Elliott is the only critic to write about this play. His focus is primarily Lluelyn's degree play and conjecture about a broader, informal tradition at Oxford which might form a context for it, but he proceeds to note that:

Lluellyn's career as a playwright did not end with his baccalaureate. Although he became a physician by profession, his attachment to Oxford and its cultural activities continued. In 1660 he was appointed both King's Physician and Principal of St. Mary's Hall. In the following summer preparations were made for a visit to Oxford by the new King Charles II, and we know from a letter of Timothy Halton, a Fellow of Queen's, that 'the play [was] made by Dr. Llewellyn'. Whether it was the same play he had written 20 years before we do not know, since it was never performed due to a 'want of actors'. (342)

For What It's Worth

It would seem unlikely that so important an occasion as the planned visit by Charles II would be met with a performance of a 20 year old play submitted in supplication for a BA, whose "presentation" probably meant not performance, but the presentation of a literary manuscript; surely Oxford would commission a new piece, or at least a more recent and/or tested piece of dramatic writing? Halton's use of the present tense ("is made by") suggests Lluelyn had fashioned something new.

Works Cited

Elliot, John R., Jr. "Degree Plays". Oxoniensia 53 (1988): 341-42.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 11 March 15.