Sir John Oldcastle, Part 2
F. 65 (Greg I.113):
- this 16 of october 99
- Receved by me Thomas downton of phillipp
- Henchlow to pay mr monday mr drayton & mr wilsson
- & haythway for the first parte of the lyfe of
- Sr Jhon Ouldcasstell & in earnest of the
- Second parte for the vse of the compayny
- ten pownd J say receved ... 10li
F. 66v (Greg I.116) [19 - 26 December 1599]
- Receued of mr Henchlow for the vse
- of the Company to pay mr drayton
- for the second parte of SrJhon ould
- Casell foure pownd J say receud ... iiijli
- per me Thomas Downton
F. 68 (Greg I.119)
- dd vnto the littell tayller at the apoyntment
- of Robart shawe the 12 of marche 1599 to macke
- thinges for the 2 parte of owld castell some of ... xxxs
11 August 1600
Thomas Pavier Entred for his copies vnder the handes of master VICARS and the wardens. These iij copies
The first parte of the history of the life of Sir JOHN OLDCASTELL lord COBHAM.
Item the second and last parte of the history of Sir JOHN OLDCASTELL lord COBHAM with his martyrdom
Item ye history of the life and Deathe of Captaine THOMAS STUCLEY, with his Mariage to ALEXANDER CURTIS his daughter, and his valiant endinge of his life at the battell of Alcazar ... xviijd
The Admiral's Men purchased Sir John Oldcastle in two parts starting on 16 October 1599 during their final year at the Rose. Sometime between 1 and 8 November 1599, the company paid the four poets (Drayton, Hathway, Munday, and Wilson) 10s. "as a gefte" at the debut of the first part (Greg I.113). The second part was finished by March 1600. Drayton had taken payment for it in mid-December, perhaps as representative of the consortium of poets or perhaps for completing the play on his own, and it went into production with the purchase of 30s. worth of things. Both parts were registered at Stationers' Hall by Thomas Pavier on 11 August, but only the first part apparently went on to the print shop of Valentine Sims; it was published in 1600 and 1619 (with a date of 1600).
In August 1602 Worcester's Men paid Thomas Dekker 40s. "for new a dicyons in owldcastelle" (Greg I.179). They bought a suit for the play on 21 August, along with another suit and a satin doublet (£12). On the same day they also bought "the turckes head & ij wemens gownes mackenge & fresh watr for owld castell (£3 10s). On 7 September 1602 they paid Dekker another 10s. "for his adicions in owld castell" (Greg I.181).
What play is this? Greg supposed that it was the Admiral's part one (II.206, Items 185 & 186). Corbin and Sedge decide that both "plays were revived in late 1602" (9).
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
The Oxford DNB includes the life of Oldcastle.
John Foxe describes the execution of Sir John Oldcastle in Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1419 (Actes and Monuments... or Booke of Martyrs. The Variorum Edition. Sheffield: hriOnline, 2004. Web).
The entry in the Stationers' Register makes it clear that the second part of the play dramatized the martydom of Oldcastle, "with galowes chaines, and fyre" (Foxe).
References to the Play
None known, unless the epilogue of 2 Henry IV is an allusion. That text, printed in 1600, ends with this disclaimer: "for Oldcastle died [a] martyr, and this is not the man" (Epi.32).
Corbin and Sedge have little to say about the lost second part. Most of their attention is given to the restoration of Oldcastle's image in part one, in light of the political faux pas in Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV of Falstaff's name (initially "Oldcastle"). They do anticipate a scene in part 2 in which Powis betrays Oldcastle, Judas-like, which would be a contrasting parallel to Oldcastle's suit on Powis' part that he be pardoned for the murder of Lord Herbert (20). They add also that the second part "no doubt ... placed considerable dramatic weight on the nature of Oldcastle's martyrdom" (20).
Knutson considers the relative popularity of the two parts, vis a vis printing, and suggests that the dramatization of the martyrdom of Oldcastle would rival horrific scenes such as the skinning of Sisamnes in Cambyses and the impalement of Edward II. She continues, "such a scene of onstage violence is more likely to have generated an audience at the Rose in the winter of 1599-1600 than public empathy with the Cobhams' injured pride" (317).
For What It's Worth
Taylor suggests that Hal's simile of "roasted Manningtree ox" in the catalogue of insults during the impromptu play at the tavern (2.4.452) refers Oldcastle, but the textual moment is too early to allude to the lost second part of the Admiral's play (95).
Corbin, Peter and Douglas Sedge (eds.) The Oldcastle Controversy. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991.
Knutson, Roslyn. Review. The Oldcastle Controversy. Shakespeare Studies (1994):314-8.
Taylor, Gary. "The Fortunes of Oldcastle." Shakespeare Survey, 38 (1985): 85-100.
Thomson, John A. F. "Oldcastle, John, Baron Cobham (d. 1417)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2008. Oxford DNB
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 8 February 2010.