Welshman's Price, The (Welshman's Prize)

Anon. (1598)

Historical Records


Philip Henslowe's papers in the Dulwich College Library

List of playbooks

Greg, Papers (APX, I. art. 1, p. 121, col. 2, l. 186)

A Note of all suche bookes as belong to the Stocke, and such as I have bought since the 3d of March 1598
Welchmans price

Theatrical Provenance

The sole mention of "Welchmans price" in the Diary occurs in a list of play titles inventoried by Henslowe under the heading dated 3 March 1598 (1599?); when the play entered the repertory of the Admiral's men cannot be deduced from available evidence.

Probable Genre(s)

History (Harbage, who collapses the play with "Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales")

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Identifying the narrative of this play depends. first, upon on a correct identification of the titular Welshman and, second, upon his price.

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Malone transcribes Henslowe's entry as "Welchmans price" (p. 307).

Fleay, BECD brings "Welchemans price" into the maelstrom of plays with Welsh characters that includes "The Welshman" and "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales." In the process, he renames "Welchmans price" as "The Welshman's prize" (2.307; I.122-23). He does not comment on who that Welshman might have been or what his prize entailed.

Greg II follows Fleay's lead in identifying "Welchmans price" with "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales, and he adopts Fleay's renaming to "The Welshman's Prize" (#130, 191-2).

The bundling of "Welchmans price" as "The Welshman's Prize" with "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales" became received opinion. Foakes repeats the identification by annotating Henslowe's inventory item as "? The Welshman's Prize; probably The Famous Wars of Henry I, paid for March 1598" (p. 323).

Gurr goes a bit further. On the one hand, he erases the title by having no discrete entry in Appendix I: The Plays or in the Index for either "Welchmans price" or "Welshman's Prize" (p. 229, n. 68 [this note is appended to the entry for "The Life and Death of Henry I"]). On the other hand, in a discussion of Henslowe's inventory of books in March 1598 (p. 102), Gurr identifies "Welchmans price" as "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales," an identification he repeats in Appendix I for "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales" by folding in the listing of "Welchmans price" (#90, p. 234).

Wiggins, Catalogue challenges that bundling by providing a separate entry for "Welchemans price" (#1115). He does however list the entry by the variant title, "The Welshman's Prize." Countering the opinion of Greg (and by association, Fleay et. al.), Wiggins observes that "the title of this play might not seem altogether apt, unless ironical" for "The Famous Wars of Henry I and the Prince of Wales" because that play "would have ended with the submission of the Welsh to the English" (#1115).

For What It's Worth

Henslowe's inventory list is in two columns. If one reads down column one rather than across at each line to column two, one could argue that "Welchmans price" does not belong to the play-cluster that makes up column one, a grouping that Greg identified as having been brought to the Admiral's men by players from Pembroke's men who moved to the Rose following business disruptions at the Swan in August 1597 (Greg, II.187, headnote to Section VIII). Following that reasoning, one could observe that "Welchmans price" is listed along with plays certainly performed by the Admiral's men such as "Phaeton," the two parts of Robin Hood, and the two parts of "Hercules," which have confirming evidence of a stage run by being in Henslowe's playlists or his entries of payments to dramatists (the Robin Hood plays, in addition, advertised ownership by the Admiral's men on their title pages in 1601 [The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon; The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon). Such an observation separates "Welchmans price" from those plays to which scholars have given a provenance of Pembroke's company and locates it instead with those that were exclusively the property of the Admiral's men.

Works Cited

Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 6 June 2016; also 1 January 2020.