Six Clothiers of the West, Parts 1 and 2

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Richard Hathway, William Haughton, and Wentworth Smith (1601)


Contents

Historical Records

Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)

F. 94 (Greg I.149)

Lent at the apoyntment of Samwell Rowley the
12 of october 1601 to [len] mr hathwaye & wenworte
smythe & wm hawghton in earneste of a playe called
the vj clothers the some of . . . xxxxs


Lent at the apoyntment of samwell Rowlley
the 22 of october 1601 vnto mr hathewaye &
wentworthe smyth & wm hawghton in part of
paymente of a boocke called the vj clothers some . . . iijll


F. 94v (Greg I.150)

[between entries dated 3 November and 8 November]

Lent vnto Samelle Rowley & Robert
shawe to [l]paye vnto mr hathewaye &
mr smyth & wm hawghton for a Boocke
called the 2 parte of the vj clothyers . . . xxxxs



F. 100 (Greg I.160)

Receaved by vs Ri. Hathway; wenworth Smyth & william
Haughton of Mr Hinslye the sume of forty shillinges
in earneste of the play called the second parte of the sixe
clothyres
Ri. Hathway
W: Smyth



Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's Men would have performed the play in the Fortune Theatre, although no performance dates are recorded. Henslowe does not record a final payment for either of the plays.


Probable Genre(s)

Romance (Wiggins).


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

It's possible that the play dramatized material from Thomas Deloney's novel Thomas of Reading, or, The Six Worthy Yeomen of the West. The eponymous yeomen are clothiers and had likely appeared in the recent Admiral's play "The Six Yeomen of the West", and perhaps also "Tom Dough, Part 2", both written by Day and Haughton. If the present plays were sequels, they may have dramatized episodes from Deloney's novel left unstaged in the previous plays.

One possible episode is that of Hodgkins of Halifax's attempts to prevent the theft of drying cloth (chapter 8). An early story in the novel tells of how King Henry I granted the town of Halifax a privilege to execute cloth thieves. This successfully serves as a deterrent until the cunning Mighty Wallis dares to steal from Hodgkins again, eluding detection by having the horseshoes on his horse reversed. He and his companions are eventually caught, but none of the residents of Halifax can bring themselves to act as the hangman. Hodgkins is despondent until a Friar declares that he has invented "a gin, that shal cut off their heads without mans helpe" (sig. F2v), an execution device that would come to be known as the Halifax Gibbet.

One of the main plots that unifies Deloney's novel is that of Margaret, the daughter of the banished Earl of Shrewsbury, whose poverty compels her to work in the household of Gray of Gloucester, despite her lack of most practical skills. Margaret's beauty causes Gray's wife to be jealous, but she is persuaded by Margaret's humility to keep her as a servant. Throughout, Margaret's aristocratic identity is kept a secret. In the second half of the novel, Margaret is wooed by Duke Robert of Normandy, the captive brother of King Henry. After much wooing, she accepts. Margaret puts off another suitor, the married Sir William Ferrers, by telling him that his "ill fauored great nose, that hands sagging so loathsomly to your lippes that I cannot find in my hart so much as to kisse you" (sig. G1v). Sir William seeks a cure for his fictional affliction, and a cunning physician pretends to perform phlebotomy using a bladder of sheep's blood hidden in his sleeve: Sir William is convinced he is cured and the physician is rewarded.

Duke Robert successfully escapes from his keepers to rendezvous with Margaret and the two abscond together together. After exhausting their horse, they travel on foot until they are overtaken by their pursuers. Margaret refuses to abandon her lover, and Robert fights, declaring "he would buy his liberty with his life, before he would yeeld to be any more a prisoner" (sig. I1r). He is wounded, and both are taken to prison, where King Henry condemns Robert to be blinded and Margaret to be killed. Gray's wife, hearing that her erstwhile servant is sentenced to death, pleads with the King for Margaret's life, which is granted on the condition that she witness Robert's blinding. The miserable Margaret finally reveals to Gray that she is the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury and asks to spend the rest of her life in a nunnery. Margaret is escorted by the King to the Gloucester Cathedral, where she puts on a hair smock and bids farewell to the world. When Robert hears the news, he requests that his body be buried at Gloucester.

The novel ends with cursory descriptions of the legacies of the other clothiers, which may have served as inspiration for the playwrights not explicitly narrated in Deloney's novel.


References to the Play

(Information welcome.)


Critical Commentary

Collier (99-100) assumed the identity of the present play with "The Six Yeomen of the West" and noted that the play was likely based on Deloney's Thomas of Reading.

Hazlitt (213), like Collier, assumed the present play was the same as "The Six Yeomen of the West."

Fleay (BCED, 274) noted that "The Six Clothiers" was "[e]vidently not the same story as The Six Yeomen of the West, as usually asserted."

Wiggins (4:337) suggests that the present sequels to earlier dramatizations of Deloney's novel perhaps "reflects a dissatisfaction with the results achieved in the preceding play in the sequence," namely, "Tom Dough, Part 2," "in which Tom Dough was spun off into his own vehicle. If so, it may also be significant (and, of course, may not) that John Day appears to have left the writing team at this stage."


For What It's Worth

(Information welcome.)


Works Cited

Deloney, Thomas. Thomas of Reading. Or, The sixe worthy yeomen of the West. London, 1612. STC 6569.


Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, Reed College; updated 11 June 2017.

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