King's Men (playing company)

King's Men (playing company)

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The King's Men was the company of actors to which William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 (1564–1616) belonged through most of his career. Formerly known as The Lord Chamberlain's Men
Lord Chamberlain's Men
The Lord Chamberlain's Men was a playing company for whom Shakespeare worked for most of his career. Formed at the end of a period of flux in the theatrical world of London, it had become, by 1603, one of the two leading companies of the city and was subsequently patronised by James I.It was...

 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, it became The King's Men in 1603 when King James
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 ascended the throne and became the company's patron.

The royal patent of May 19, 1603 that charters the King's Men names the following players, in this order: Lawrence Fletcher
Lawrence Fletcher
Lawrence Fletcher was a Jacobean actor, and man of mystery. He is listed on the royal patent of 19 May 1603 that transformed the Lord Chamberlain's Men into the King's Men — and he is listed first, with William Shakespeare second and Richard Burbage third; significant, in the hierarchy-mad...

, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage
Richard Burbage
Richard Burbage was an English actor and theatre owner. He was the younger brother of Cuthbert Burbage. They were both actors in drama....

, Augustine Phillips
Augustine Phillips
Augustine Phillips was an Elizabethan actor who performed in troupes with Edward Alleyn and William Shakespeare. He was one of the first generation of English actors to achieve wealth and a degree of social status by means of his trade....

, John Heminges
John Heminges
John Heminges was an English Renaissance actor. Most noted now as one of the editors of William Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio, Heminges served in his time as an actor and financial manager for the King's Men.-Life:Heminges was born in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire in 1556...

, Henry Condell
Henry Condell
Henry Condell was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare wrote. With John Heminges, he was instrumental in preparing the First Folio, the collected plays of Shakespeare, published in 1623....

, William Sly
William Sly
William Sly was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a colleague of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage in the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men....

, Robert Armin
Robert Armin
Robert Armin was an English actor, a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men. He became the leading comedy actor with the troupe associated with William Shakespeare following the departure of Will Kempe around 1600...

, Richard Cowley
Richard Cowley
Richard Cowley was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a colleague of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage in the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men.Cowley was in the c...

, "and the rest of their associates...." The nine cited by name became Grooms of the Chamber
Groom of the Chamber
Groom of the Chamber and Groom of the Privy Chamber were positions in the Royal Household of the English monarchy, the latter considerably more elevated. Other Ancien Régime royal establishments in Europe had comparable officers, often with similar titles...

. On March 15, 1604, each of the nine men named in the patent was supplied with four and a half yards of red cloth for the coronation procession.

To 1610


In their first winter season, between December 1603 and February 1604, the company performed eight times at Court. In their second, from November 1604 through February 1605, they performed eleven times at Court, including seven plays that Shakespeare acted in (The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice is a tragic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic...

twice), and two by Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

. This represented a workload twice as great as was typical under Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

. The King's Men needed more Men. In 1604 the number of sharers was increased from eight or nine to twelve. The new sharers included John Lowin
John Lowin
John Lowin was an English actor born in the St Giles-without-Cripplegate, London, the son of a tanner. Like Robert Armin, he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. While he is not recorded as a free citizen of this company, he did perform as a goldsmith, Leofstane, in a 1611 city pageant written by...

, Alexander Cooke
Alexander Cooke
Alexander Cooke was an actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage.Edmond Malone introduced the hypothesis, still current though far from certain, that Cooke originated Shakespeare's principal female roles...

, and Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley was a Renaissance actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare.Recent research has shown that Tooley was born in late 1582 or early 1583; his birth name was not Tooley but Wilkinson...

.

May 1605 brought the death of Augustine Phillips. In his will, Phillips left legacies to Shakespeare, Burbage, and eight other members of the company, plus two apprentices, and £5 to the hired men "of the company which I am of". (Phillips also leaves a bequest to Christopher Beeston
Christopher Beeston
Christopher Beeston was a successful actor and a powerful theatrical impresario in early 17th century London. He was associated with a number of playwrights, particularly Thomas Heywood.-Early life:...

, as a former "servant". Beeston was almost certainly another former apprentice.)

The company gave ten Court performances in the winter of 1605–6 — and, unusually, three Court performances in the summer of 1606, during a state visit by the King of Denmark. Each Court performance earned them £10. They also toured that summer, and were in Oxford at the end of July, among other stops. Nine performances at Court marked the winter of 1606–7, including a December 26 performance of King Lear
King Lear
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

;
the following winter, 1607–8, saw thirteen Court appearances.

From July through December 1608 the theatres were closed due to plague. The King's Men toured the countryside; they were in Coventry in late October. The Blackfriars Theatre
Blackfriars Theatre
Blackfriars Theatre was the name of a theatre in the Blackfriars district of the City of London during the Renaissance. The theatre began as a venue for child actors associated with the Queen's chapel choirs; in this function, the theatre hosted some of the most innovative drama of Elizabeth and...

, owned by the Burbage family, was organized into a partnership in August of that year, with five of the seven shares going to members of the King's Men — Shakespeare, Burbage, Heminges, Condell, and Sly. Sly, however, died soon after, and his share was split among the other six. (The two non-actors involved in the arrangement were Cuthbert Burbage
Cuthbert Burbage
Cuthbert Burbage was an English theatrical figure, son of impresario James Burbage and elder brother of famous actor Richard Burbage...

, Richard's brother, and Thomas Evans, agent for theatre manager Henry Evans.)

The acquisition of the Blackfriars represented an enormous advantage for the company. It allowed the company to perform year round instead of only in clement weather. The Blackfriars hall is thought to have been 66 feet by 46 feet (20 by 14 meters), including the stage; its maximum capacity was likely in the hundreds of spectators. Compare the maximum capacity of 2500 to 3000 for the Globe. Yet the ticket prices at the Blackfriars were five to six times higher than those at the Globe. Globe tickets ranged in price from a penny to sixpence (1d. to 6d.); tickets at the Blackfriars ranged from sixpence to two shillings sixpence (6d. to 2s. 6d.; 1 shilling = 12 pence). The cheapest admission at the Blackfriars equaled the most expensive at the Globe; the most expensive seat at the Blackfriars cost five times as much as its Globe counterpart. Adding the Blackfriars to the Globe should have allowed the King's Men to at least double their income from public performances.

Their new wealth allowed the King's Men to overcome major adversity: when the Globe Theatre burned down in 1613 (see below), the company could afford an expensive rebuild, replacing the vulnerable thatch roof with tile. The fact that the King's Men had a second theatre meant that they didn't lose all their playscripts and costumes, as the Admiral's/Palsgrave's Men
Admiral's Men
The Admiral's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in the Elizabethan and Stuart eras...

 would do in the Fortune Theatre fire of December 1621 (a disaster that was, for that company, the beginning of the end).

1609 was another plague year during which the company travelled. Nine plays were performed at Court that year. (Royal patronage was an advantage in difficult times: special payments in times of plague were made to the company in 1603, 1608, 1609, and 1610.)

1610 was a better year, with public performances at the Globe — Othello
Othello
The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1603, and based on the Italian short story "Un Capitano Moro" by Cinthio, a disciple of Boccaccio, first published in 1565...

and Jonson's Sejanus among others. By this time the company had been augmented by John Underwood
John Underwood (actor)
John Underwood was an early 17th century actor, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare.-Career:Underwood began as a boy player with the Children of the Chapel, and was cast in that company's productions of Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels and The Poetaster...

 and William Ostler
William Ostler
William Ostler was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare....

, both veterans of the Children of the Chapel
Children of the Chapel
The Children of the Chapel were the boys with unbroken voices, choristers, who formed part of the Chapel Royal, the body of singers and priests serving the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they were called upon to do so....

/Queen's Revels company.

To 1616


In 1611 Jonson's Catiline was performed; apart from Richard Robinson's
Richard Robinson (17th-century actor)
Richard Robinson was an actor in English Renaissance theatre and a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men.Robinson started out as a boy player with the company; in 1611 he played the Lady in their production of The Second Maiden's Tragedy. He was cast in their production of Ben Jonson's...

 substitution for Armin, the cast roster was the same as for Sejanus the previous year. This may have been John Heminges' last production; in 1613 he's described as "stuttering." Heminges normally received the payments for the company's Court performances, as far back as 1595; he continued to be active in the company's financial affairs even after he left the stage.

Between October 1611 and April 1612 the King's Men performed 22 plays at Court, including The Winter's Tale
The Winter's Tale
The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, originally published in the First Folio of 1623. Although it was grouped among the comedies, some modern editors have relabelled the play as one of Shakespeare's late romances. Some critics, among them W. W...

and The Tempest
The Tempest
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place,...

. Their connection with The Second Maiden's Tragedy
The Second Maiden's Tragedy
The Second Maiden's Tragedy is a Jacobean play that survives only in manuscript. It was written in 1611, and performed in the same year by the King's Men. The manuscript that survives is the copy that was sent to the censor, and therefore includes his notes and deletions...

also dates from this period; the manuscript of that play reveals that Robert Gough was cast as Memphonius, while Richard Robinson was the Lady.

On Sunday, January 12, and Monday, January 13, 1612, the King's Men joined with Queen Anne's Men
Queen Anne's Men
Queen Anne's Men was a playing company, or troupe of actors, in Jacobean era London. -Formation:...

 to give Court performances of two Queen's Men's plays by Thomas Heywood
Thomas Heywood
Thomas Heywood was a prominent English playwright, actor, and author whose peak period of activity falls between late Elizabethan and early Jacobean theatre.-Early years:...

, The Silver Age and The Rape of Lucrece. No cast list for these performances has survived; but given the two companies' known personnel, this might have been the first time Christopher Beeston
Christopher Beeston
Christopher Beeston was a successful actor and a powerful theatrical impresario in early 17th century London. He was associated with a number of playwrights, particularly Thomas Heywood.-Early life:...

 acted with his old colleagues since leaving the Lord Chamberlain's Men nearly a decade earlier.

In the winter of 1612–13, great Court festivities celebrating the marriage of the Elector Palatine
Frederick V, Elector Palatine
Frederick V was Elector Palatine , and, as Frederick I , King of Bohemia ....

 to King James' daughter Princess Elizabeth
Elizabeth of Bohemia
Elizabeth of Bohemia was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. As the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, she was Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia...

 were held. The King's Men gave 20 performances, including seven plays by Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero....

twice), one by Jonson — and four by Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher were the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, who collaborated in their writing during the reign of James I ....

, reflecting their growing popularity with audiences and dominance in the King's Men's repertoire. The mysterious Cardenio, allegedly by Shakespeare and Fletcher, was also performed.

Cardenio was performed again at Court on June 8, 1613, before the ambassador from Savoy. The second Beaumont and Fletcher folio
Beaumont and Fletcher folios
The Beaumont and Fletcher folios were two large folio collections of the stage plays of John Fletcher and his collaborators. The first was issued in 1647, and the second in 1679. The two collections were important in preserving many works of English Renaissance drama.-The first folio, 1647:The 1647...

 of 1679 provides partial cast lists for three King's Men productions from the c. 1613 period, for Fletcher's Bonduca
Bonduca
Bonduca is a Jacobean tragi-comedy in the Beaumont and Fletcher canon, generally judged by scholars to be the work of John Fletcher alone. It was acted by the King's Men c. 1613, and published in 1647 in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio....

and Valentinian
Valentinian (play)
Valentinian is a Jacobean era stage play, a revenge tragedy written by John Fletcher was that originally published in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647. The play dramatizes the story of Valentinian III, one of the last of the Roman Emperors, as recorded by the classical historian...

and the Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher were the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, who collaborated in their writing during the reign of James I ....

 collaboration The Captain
The Captain (play)
The Captain is the title of a Jacobean era stage play, a comedy written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. It was originally published in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647.-Performance and publication:...

.
Captain Bonduca Valentinian
Richard Burbage
Richard Burbage
Richard Burbage was an English actor and theatre owner. He was the younger brother of Cuthbert Burbage. They were both actors in drama....

Henry Condell
Henry Condell
Henry Condell was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare wrote. With John Heminges, he was instrumental in preparing the First Folio, the collected plays of Shakespeare, published in 1623....

William Ostler
William Ostler
William Ostler was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare....

John Lowin
John Lowin
John Lowin was an English actor born in the St Giles-without-Cripplegate, London, the son of a tanner. Like Robert Armin, he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. While he is not recorded as a free citizen of this company, he did perform as a goldsmith, Leofstane, in a 1611 city pageant written by...

...
Alexander Cooke
Alexander Cooke
Alexander Cooke was an actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage.Edmond Malone introduced the hypothesis, still current though far from certain, that Cooke originated Shakespeare's principal female roles...

... ...
John Underwood
John Underwood (actor)
John Underwood was an early 17th century actor, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare.-Career:Underwood began as a boy player with the Children of the Chapel, and was cast in that company's productions of Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels and The Poetaster...

...
Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley was a Renaissance actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare.Recent research has shown that Tooley was born in late 1582 or early 1583; his birth name was not Tooley but Wilkinson...

... ...
William Ecclestone
William Ecclestone
William Ecclestone or Egglestone was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men.Nothing is known with certainty about Ecclestone's early life...

... ...
Richard Robinson
Richard Robinson (17th-century actor)
Richard Robinson was an actor in English Renaissance theatre and a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men.Robinson started out as a boy player with the company; in 1611 he played the Lady in their production of The Second Maiden's Tragedy. He was cast in their production of Ben Jonson's...

... ...


On June 29, 1613, the Globe Theatre burned down, its thatch roof set afire by squibs set off during a lavish performance of the Shakespeare/Fletcher Henry VIII
Henry VIII (play)
The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight is a history play by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the life of Henry VIII of England. An alternative title, All is True, is recorded in contemporary documents, the title Henry VIII not appearing until the play's publication...

. The Globe was rebuilt by the following spring, at a cost of £1400. The thatch roof was replaced with tile. During the winter of 1613–14 the company played at Court sixteen times.

In 1614 Alexander Cooke and William Ostler both died; their places as sharers were taken, perhaps, by William Ecclestone
William Ecclestone
William Ecclestone or Egglestone was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men.Nothing is known with certainty about Ecclestone's early life...

 and Robert Benfield
Robert Benfield
Robert Benfield was a seventeenth-century actor, noted for his longtime membership in the King's Men in the years and decades after William Shakespeare's retirement and death.Nothing is known of Benfield's early life...

. Ostler's death may have been sudden, and was problemmatical in that he died intestate. His father-in-law, John Heminges, seized control of his theatre shares. Ostler's widow, Thomasine Heminges Ostler, sued her father in 1615 for control of the shares — a suit that was apparently unsuccessful.

In the winter of 1614–15 the King's Men performed at Court only eight times, half their workload of the previous year. During the next winter, 1615–16, they were back up to fourteen Court performances.

On April 23, 1616, Shakespeare died. His role as the King's Men's leading playwright would be filled by Fletcher and his various collaborators through the coming years, with Philip Massinger
Philip Massinger
Philip Massinger was an English dramatist. His finely plotted plays, including A New Way to Pay Old Debts, The City Madam and The Roman Actor, are noted for their satire and realism, and their political and social themes.-Early life:The son of Arthur Massinger or Messenger, he was baptized at St....

 assuming greater prominence in the 1630s. Nathan Field joined the company in 1616; already a prominent actor, he would go on to write plays for the King's Men in his all-too-brief career with the company.

To 1623


Nathan Field's contribution to the King's Men is illustrated by the play The Knight of Malta
The Knight of Malta
The Knight of Malta is a Jacobean era stage play, a tragicomedy in the canon of John Fletcher and his collaborators. It was initially published in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647.-Date and source:...

, which Field wrote with Fletcher and Massinger. The first Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher were the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, who collaborated in their writing during the reign of James I ....

 folio of 1647 gives a list of the principal cast in the company's production of the play, which included Burbage, Field himself, John Underwood, Richard Sharpe, Henry Condell, Robert Benfield, John Lowin, and Thomas Holcombe. (Sharpe and Holcombe were boy actors
Boy player
Boy player is a common term for the adolescent males employed by Medieval and English Renaissance playing companies. Some boy players worked for the mainstream companies and performed the female roles, as women did not perform on the English stage in this period...

 with the company.) The date of this production in unknown, but it must have occurred in the 1616–19 era, between Field's joining the company and Burbage's death. Field may also have played the title role in George Chapman
George Chapman
George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

's Bussy D'Ambois
Bussy D'Ambois
The Tragedy of Bussy D'Ambois is a Jacobean stage play written by George Chapman. Classified as either a tragedy or "contemporary history," Bussy D'Ambois is widely considered Chapman's greatest play, and is the earliest in a series of plays that Chapman wrote about the French political scene in...

in this period. He is reported to have played the role at some time in his career, and the King's Men had the play in their repertory for many years.

1619 was a pivotal year in the company's history. The residents of the upscale Blackfriars neighborhood, many of whom were wealthy and influential politically and socially, had never been happy about the presence of a theatre in their midst; in the spring of 1619 they complained more loudly than usual about the traffic problems associated with the theatre, which blocked access to the local churches. (All the playing companies were required to cease activity during Lent — a requirement they flouted whenever possible, often with impunity.) In response to this local opposition, the King's Men obtained a renewal of their royal patent dated March 27, 1619. The patent named the twelve current shareholders in the company; in addition to the veterans Burbage, Lowin, Heminges, and Condell, the list includes William Ecclestone, Robert Gough, Richard Robinson, Nicholas Tooley, and John Underwood, and the newest members, Nathan Field, Robert Benfield, and John Shank
John Shank
John Shank was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a leading comedian in the King's Men during the 1620s and 1630s.-Early career:...

.

Shank would be the company's primary clown in the years to come; his specialties were dancing and knockabout physical comedy. He was a veteran of several troupes over the previous decades, going back perhaps to Pembroke's Men
Pembroke's Men
The Earl of Pembroke's Men was an Elizabethan era playing company, or troupe of actors, in English Renaissance theatre. They functioned under the patronage of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. Early and equivocal mentions of a Pembroke's company reach as far back as 1575; but the company is...

 and Queen Elizabeth's Men
Queen Elizabeth's Men
Queen Elizabeth's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in English Renaissance theatre. Formed in 1583 at the express command of Queen Elizabeth, it was the dominant acting company for the rest of the 1580s, as the Admiral's Men and the Lord Chamberlain's Men would be in the decade that...

 in the reign of Elizabeth; he had been with the Admiral's/Prince Henry's/Palsgrave's
Admiral's Men
The Admiral's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in the Elizabethan and Stuart eras...

 company in the 1610–13 period. Shank may have taken Robert Armin's place in the King's Men after Armin's death in 1615. Shank also trained apprentices for the company — Thomas Holcombe, John Thompson
John Thompson (actor)
John Thompson was a noted boy player acting women's roles in English Renaissance theatre. He served in the King's Men, the acting troupe formerly of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage.Thompson's career is notable for his length...

, Thomas Pollard
Thomas Pollard
Thomas Pollard was an actor in the King's Men — a prominent comedian in the acting troupe of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage....

, and John Honyman
John Honyman
John Honyman , also Honeyman, Honiman, Honnyman, or other variants, was an English actor of the Caroline era. He was a member of the King's Men, the most prominent playing company of its era, best known as the company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage.Honyman belonged to the generation...

. Robert Gough had been associated with the actors of the company perhaps as far back as 1591, when he may have been a boy player in The Seven Deadly Sins
The Seven Deadly Sins (play)
The Seven Deadly Sins was a two-part play written c. 1585, attributed to Richard Tarlton, and most likely premiered by his company, Queen Elizabeth's Men...

; he received a legacy in the 1603 will of Thomas Pope
Thomas Pope (16th-century actor)
Thomas Pope was an Elizabethan actor, a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men and a colleague of William Shakespeare. Pope was a "comedian and acrobat."-Beginnings:...

, and he witnessed the 1605 will of Augustine Phillips, whose sister he most likely married. Gough was never a prominent actor, and little is known about the roles he played.

In one particular, the new patent was out of date the day it was issued. On March 13, 1619, Richard Burbage died. In April or May Joseph Taylor
Joseph Taylor (17th-century actor)
Joseph Taylor was a 17th-century actor. As the successor of Richard Burbage with the King's Men, he was arguably the most important actor in the later Jacobean and the Caroline eras....

 transferred from Prince Charles's Men
Prince Charles's Men
Prince Charles's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in Jacobean and Caroline England.-The Jacobean era troupe:...

 to take Burbage's place; he would play Hamlet and the other great Shakespeare/Burbage roles. Yet Burbage was missed: in May 1619 the Lord Chamberlain, William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, KG, PC was the son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke and his third wife Mary Sidney. Chancellor of the University of Oxford, he founded Pembroke College, Oxford with King James. He was warden of the Forest of Dean, and constable of St Briavels from 1608...

, wrote to a colleague that while others had gone to see a play, "I being tender-hearted, could not endure to see so soon after the loss of my old acquaintance Burbage."

In August 1619, the company premiered its production of the controversial play Sir John van Olden Barnavelt
Sir John van Olden Barnavelt
The Tragedy of Sir John van Olden Barnavelt was a Jacobean play written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger in 1619, and produced in the same year by the King's Men at the Globe Theatre...

. And sometime in this immediate post-Burbage period, they must also have staged Fletcher's The Humorous Lieutenant
The Humorous Lieutenant
The Humorous Lieutenant, also known as The Noble Enemies or Demetrius and Enanthe, is a Jacobean era stage play, a tragicomedy written by John Fletcher...

. The cast list for that play in the 1679 Beaumont and Fletcher folio is the only surviving list that includes both Taylor and Condell. Not long after this, Condell must have retired from the stage.

Another blow hit the company in the following year, 1620, when Nathaniel Field died at the young age of 33. His place as sharer was taken by John Rice
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

.

The works of Fletcher and his collaborators, especially Massinger, continued to make up a significant portion of the company's repertory in the 1619–22 era. Fletcher's Women Pleased
Women Pleased
Women Pleased is a late Jacobean era stage play, a tragicomedy by John Fletcher that was originally published in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647.-Date and performance:...

and the Fletcher/Massinger collaborations The Custom of the Country
The Custom of the Country (1647 play)
The Custom of the Country is a Jacobean stage play, a tragicomedy written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger, originally published in 1647 in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio.-Date and sources:The play is usually dated to c. 1619–23...

and The Little French Lawyer
The Little French Lawyer
The Little French Lawyer is a Jacobean era stage play, a comedy written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. It was initially published in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647.-Date:...

were acted by the King's Men in this period. Casts lists in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio give the same roster for all three plays: Taylor, Lowin, Underwood, Benfield, Tooley, Ecclestone, and the boys Richard Sharpe and Thomas Holcombe.

Around 1621, the King's Men performed The Duchess of Malfi
The Duchess of Malfi
The Duchess of Malfi is a macabre, tragic play written by the English dramatist John Webster in 1612–13. It was first performed privately at the Blackfriars Theatre, then before a more general audience at The Globe, in 1613-14...

again. When the play was first printed two years later, in 1623, the quarto featured a combined cast list for both the King's Men's productions, c. 1614 and c. 1621 (the latter occurred between the deaths of Burbage in 1619 and Tooley in 1623). Together these cast lists give a mixed picture of change and stability in the company in this era.
c. 1614 c. 1621
Ferdinand Richard Burbage
Richard Burbage
Richard Burbage was an English actor and theatre owner. He was the younger brother of Cuthbert Burbage. They were both actors in drama....

Joseph Taylor
Joseph Taylor (17th-century actor)
Joseph Taylor was a 17th-century actor. As the successor of Richard Burbage with the King's Men, he was arguably the most important actor in the later Jacobean and the Caroline eras....

Bosola John Lowin
John Lowin
John Lowin was an English actor born in the St Giles-without-Cripplegate, London, the son of a tanner. Like Robert Armin, he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. While he is not recorded as a free citizen of this company, he did perform as a goldsmith, Leofstane, in a 1611 city pageant written by...

same
Cardinal Henry Condell
Henry Condell
Henry Condell was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare wrote. With John Heminges, he was instrumental in preparing the First Folio, the collected plays of Shakespeare, published in 1623....

Richard Robinson
Richard Robinson (17th-century actor)
Richard Robinson was an actor in English Renaissance theatre and a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men.Robinson started out as a boy player with the company; in 1611 he played the Lady in their production of The Second Maiden's Tragedy. He was cast in their production of Ben Jonson's...

Antonio William Ostler
William Ostler
William Ostler was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare....

Robert Benfield
Robert Benfield
Robert Benfield was a seventeenth-century actor, noted for his longtime membership in the King's Men in the years and decades after William Shakespeare's retirement and death.Nothing is known of Benfield's early life...

Delio John Underwood
John Underwood (actor)
John Underwood was an early 17th century actor, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare.-Career:Underwood began as a boy player with the Children of the Chapel, and was cast in that company's productions of Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels and The Poetaster...

same
Forobosco Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley was a Renaissance actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare.Recent research has shown that Tooley was born in late 1582 or early 1583; his birth name was not Tooley but Wilkinson...

same
Pescara John Rice
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

same
Silvio Thomas Pollard
Thomas Pollard
Thomas Pollard was an actor in the King's Men — a prominent comedian in the acting troupe of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage....

same
Duchess Richard Sharpe
Richard Sharpe (actor)
Richard Sharpe was an actor with the King's Men, the leading theatre troupe of its time and the company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage...

same
Mistress John Thompson
John Thompson (actor)
John Thompson was a noted boy player acting women's roles in English Renaissance theatre. He served in the King's Men, the acting troupe formerly of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage.Thompson's career is notable for his length...

same
Cariola Robert Pallant
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

same
Doctor, etc. Robert Pallant same


In both productions, Tooley and Underwood played the Madmen in addition to their other roles. Along with the permanent company members or sharers, the cast included four hired men or boys, Pallant, Pollard, Sharpe, and Thompson; note also the doubling (and in the case of Pallant, more than doubling) of roles.

The Fletcher/Massinger collaboration The Sea Voyage
The Sea Voyage
The Sea Voyage is a late Jacobean comedy written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. The play is notable for its imitation of Shakespeare's The Tempest.-Performance and publication:...

was licensed by the Master of the Revels
Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...

 on June 22, 1622. On St. Stephen's Day
St. Stephen's Day
St. Stephen's Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint's day celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. Many Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to the Julian calendar and mark St. Stephen's Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which...

, December 26, 1622, The King's Men acted another Fletcher/Massinger play, The Spanish Curate
The Spanish Curate
The Spanish Curate is a late Jacobean era stage play, a comedy written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. It premiered on the stage in 1622, and was first published in 1647.-Date and source:...

,
at Court.

1623: The First Folio gives a list of names of the 26 "principal actors" in Shakespeare's plays, providing a fairly comprehensive roster of important members of the Lord Chamberlain's/King's Men through the previous thirty years. In addition to eight men on the original 1603 royal patent (Shakespeare, Burbage, Heminges, Condell, Phillips, Cowley, Sly, and Armin), the list includes William Kempe
William Kempe
William Kempe , also spelt Kemp, was an English actor and dancer specializing in comic roles and best known for having been one of the original players in early dramas by William Shakespeare...

, Thomas Pope
Thomas Pope (16th-century actor)
Thomas Pope was an Elizabethan actor, a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men and a colleague of William Shakespeare. Pope was a "comedian and acrobat."-Beginnings:...

, George Bryan
George Bryan (16th-century actor)
George Bryan was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men with William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage....

, John Lowin
John Lowin
John Lowin was an English actor born in the St Giles-without-Cripplegate, London, the son of a tanner. Like Robert Armin, he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. While he is not recorded as a free citizen of this company, he did perform as a goldsmith, Leofstane, in a 1611 city pageant written by...

, Samuel Crosse
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

, Alexander Cooke
Alexander Cooke
Alexander Cooke was an actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage.Edmond Malone introduced the hypothesis, still current though far from certain, that Cooke originated Shakespeare's principal female roles...

, Samuel Gilburne
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

, William Ostler
William Ostler
William Ostler was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare....

, Nathan Field, John Underwood
John Underwood (actor)
John Underwood was an early 17th century actor, a member of the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare.-Career:Underwood began as a boy player with the Children of the Chapel, and was cast in that company's productions of Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels and The Poetaster...

, Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley
Nicholas Tooley was a Renaissance actor in the King's Men, the acting company of William Shakespeare.Recent research has shown that Tooley was born in late 1582 or early 1583; his birth name was not Tooley but Wilkinson...

, William Ecclestone
William Ecclestone
William Ecclestone or Egglestone was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men.Nothing is known with certainty about Ecclestone's early life...

, Joseph Taylor
Joseph Taylor (17th-century actor)
Joseph Taylor was a 17th-century actor. As the successor of Richard Burbage with the King's Men, he was arguably the most important actor in the later Jacobean and the Caroline eras....

, Robert Benfield
Robert Benfield
Robert Benfield was a seventeenth-century actor, noted for his longtime membership in the King's Men in the years and decades after William Shakespeare's retirement and death.Nothing is known of Benfield's early life...

, Robert Gough
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

, Richard Robinson
Richard Robinson (17th-century actor)
Richard Robinson was an actor in English Renaissance theatre and a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men.Robinson started out as a boy player with the company; in 1611 he played the Lady in their production of The Second Maiden's Tragedy. He was cast in their production of Ben Jonson's...

, John Shank
John Shank
John Shank was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a leading comedian in the King's Men during the 1620s and 1630s.-Early career:...

, and John Rice
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

.

Sometime in 1623, the veteran clown William Rowley
William Rowley
William Rowley was an English Jacobean dramatist, best known for works written in collaboration with more successful writers. His date of birth is estimated to have been c. 1585; he was buried on 11 February 1626...

 joined the King's Men for the final two years in his stage career. He would play the Fat Bishop in the next year's A Game at Chess
A Game at Chess
A Game at Chess is a comic satirical play by Thomas Middleton, first staged in August 1624 by the King's Men at the Globe Theatre, notable for its political content.-The play:...

. Richard Perkins
Richard Perkins (17th-century actor)
Richard Perkins was a prominent early seventeenth-century actor, most famous for his performance in the role of Barabas in Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta...

, a leading actor from Queen Anne's Men
Queen Anne's Men
Queen Anne's Men was a playing company, or troupe of actors, in Jacobean era London. -Formation:...

 and the Red Bull
Red Bull Theatre
The Red Bull was a playhouse in London during the 17th century. For more than four decades, it entertained audiences drawn primarily from the northern suburbs, developing a reputation for rowdy, often disruptive audiences...

 company, also joined the King's Men late in 1623.

To 1642


1624: Eliard Swanston
Eliard Swanston
Eliard Swanston , alternatively spelled Heliard, Hilliard, Elyard, Ellyardt, Ellyaerdt, and Eyloerdt, was an English actor in the Caroline era. He became a leading man in the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage, in the final phase of its existence.-Career:Swanston...

 left the Lady Elizabeth's Men
Lady Elizabeth's Men
The Lady Elizabeth's Men, or Princess Elizabeth's Men, was a company of actors in Jacobean London, formed under the patronage of King James I's daughter Princess Elizabeth. From 1618 on, the company was called The Queen of Bohemia's Men, after Elizabeth and her husband the Elector Palatine had...

 to join the King's Men. Previous Lady Elizabeth's veterans to join include Nathan Field, John Rice, and (via Prince Charles's Men
Prince Charles's Men
Prince Charles's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in Jacobean and Caroline England.-The Jacobean era troupe:...

) Joseph Taylor. Swanston is reported to have played Othello and Richard III during his years with the company (which extended at least through 1642).

Robert Gough died in 1624.

Also in 1624, the King's Men gave their sensational production of Middleton's
Thomas Middleton
Thomas Middleton was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. Middleton stands with John Fletcher and Ben Jonson as among the most successful and prolific of playwrights who wrote their best plays during the Jacobean period. He was one of the few Renaissance dramatists to achieve equal success in...

 A Game at Chess
A Game at Chess
A Game at Chess is a comic satirical play by Thomas Middleton, first staged in August 1624 by the King's Men at the Globe Theatre, notable for its political content.-The play:...

, which ran for an unprecedented nine days straight (August 6-16, Sundays excepted), and also got them prosecuted and fined by the Privy Council
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

. The company got into more trouble in December, for performing Massinger's The Spanish Viceroy
The Spanish Viceroy
The Spanish Viceroy is a problem play of English Renaissance drama. Originally a work by Philip Massinger dating from 1624, it was controversial in its own era, and may or may not exist today in altered form.-The facts:1624...

without a license from the Master of the Revels
Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...

.

The sharers in the King's Men depended upon a crew of hired men to make their performances work. On December 27, 1624, Sir Henry Herbert issued a list of the company's 21 hired men who could not be arrested or "press'd for soldiers" without the allowance of the Lord Chamberlain
Lord Chamberlain
The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdom and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State....

 or the Master of the Revels
Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...

. The list includes supporting actors like Robert Pallant, musicians, and functionaries like Edward Knight
Edward Knight (King's Men)
Edward Knight was the prompter of the King's Men, the acting company that performed the plays of William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Fletcher, and other playwrights of Jacobean and Caroline drama.In English Renaissance theatre, the prompter managed the company's performances, ensuring that they...

 the prompter
Prompter
The prompter in an opera house gives the singers the opening words of each phrase a few seconds early. Prompts are mouthed silently or hurled lyrically in a half-voice, audible only on stage...

 and John Rhodes
John Rhodes (17th century)
John Rhodes was a theatrical figure of the early and middle seventeenth century. He rose to a brief prominence in 1660 when the London theatres re-opened at the start of the English Restoration era.-Beginning:...

 the wardrobe keeper.

The spring of 1625 brought a period of uncertainty. The new king, Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

, had long had his own troupe of actors, Prince Charles's Men
Prince Charles's Men
Prince Charles's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in Jacobean and Caroline England.-The Jacobean era troupe:...

; would he make them the new King's Men? The existing company's established prestige — they were widely recognized the best in the land — led to a continuance of royal patronage. The Prince Charles's company folded after their patron became king, with three of its members, Thomas Hobbs, William Penn, and Anthony Smith, joining the King's Men. Though the early-to-mid-1620s was a period of economic depression in England, the King's Men prospered: the company had fifteen sharers in 1625. This abundance of personnel allowed the company to stage productions with larger casts than before [see: The Lover's Melancholy
The Lover's Melancholy
The Lover's Melancholy is an early Caroline era stage play, a tragicomedy written by John Ford. While the dating of the works in Ford's canon is very uncertain, this play has sometimes been regarded as "Ford's first unaided drama," an anticipation of what would follow through the remainder of his...

; The Novella
The Novella (play)
The Novella is a Caroline era stage play, a comedy written by Richard Brome. It was first published in the 1653 Brome collection Five New Plays, issued by the booksellers Humphrey Moseley, Richard Marriot, and Thomas Dring.-Date and Performance:...

].

Also in 1625, Richard Perkins
Richard Perkins (17th-century actor)
Richard Perkins was a prominent early seventeenth-century actor, most famous for his performance in the role of Barabas in Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta...

 terminated his brief period with the King's Men to become the leading man of the newly formed Queen Henrietta's Men
Queen Henrietta's Men
Queen Henrietta's Men was an important playing company or troupe of actors in Caroline era London. At their peak of popularity, Queen Henrietta's Men were the second leading troupe of the day, after only the King's Men.-Beginnings:...

.

When the King's Men premiered Massinger's The Roman Actor
The Roman Actor
The Roman Actor is a Caroline era stage play, a tragedy written by Philip Massinger; it was first performed in 1626, and first published in 1629...

late in 1626, the cast included a new boy player, John Honyman
John Honyman
John Honyman , also Honeyman, Honiman, Honnyman, or other variants, was an English actor of the Caroline era. He was a member of the King's Men, the most prominent playing company of its era, best known as the company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage.Honyman belonged to the generation...

, aged 13. William Trigg was another boy playing female roles for the company in the 1626–32 period; but after that his activities are unknown.

Henry Condell died in December 1627. He left shares in the company's theatres, the Blackfriars and the Globe, to his surviving family.

Opposition from the King's Men's Blackfriars neighbors reached another peak around 1630. In 1631 a commission investigated the possibility of buying out the Blackfriars property, and concluded that the company's investment in the property, over the coming fourteen years of their unexpired lease, was £2900 13s. 4d. This figure, however, covered only theatre rent and interest; in response the King's Men produced an itemized account of their investment, valuing the whole at £21,990, more than seven times as much as the commission's figure. The company's interest in the theatre was never bought out.

Upon John Heminges' death in 1630, his shares in the Globe and Blackfriars Theatres passed to his son William. William Heminges's disposal of his shares five years later would cause a major controversy within the company; see 1635 below.

The boy player Stephen Hammerton
Stephen Hammerton
Stephen Hammerton was a boy player or child actor in English Renaissance theatre, one of the young performers who specialized in female roles in the period before women appeared on the stage...

 joined the King's Men in 1632. Richard Sharpe died in the same year; he was the boy actor who played in both productions of The Duchess of Malfi, and later graduated to young male leads, as Hammerton would do over the coming decade.

In 1633, the company had difficulties with Sir Henry Herbert, the Master of the Revels
Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...

, over the content of their plays. On October 19, Herbert forbad the performance of The Woman's Prize
The Woman's Prize
The Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tamed is a Jacobean comedy written by John Fletcher. Its initial publication occurred in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647, though it was obviously written much earlier...

,
Fletcher's sequel to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1591.The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself...

, because of its "foul and offensive" content. The company acted the Fletcher/Beaumont play The Scornful Lady
The Scornful Lady
The Scornful Lady is a Jacobean era stage play, a comedy written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, and first published in 1616, the year of Beaumont's death...

instead. On October 21, Herbert addressed a letter to Edward Knight, the "book-keeper" or prompter of the company, on the subject of the "oaths, profaneness, and public ribaldry" in their plays. And October 24, John Lowin and Eliard Swanston apologized to Herbert for giving offense. (Joseph Taylor and Robert Benfield were reportedly present at the meeting, but were uninvolved in either the offense or the apology; apparently Swanston and Lowin were in the cast of The Woman's Prize but Benfield and Taylor were not.) After this incident, the King's Men had their old play texts re-examined by Herbert for new productions, something that was previously not required. This meant more fees paid to Herbert.

The text of Fletcher's play was repaired adequately by the next month, when the company performed The Taming of the Shrew and The Woman's Prize before the King and Queen at St. James's Palace
St. James's Palace
St. James's Palace is one of London's oldest palaces. It is situated in Pall Mall, just north of St. James's Park. Although no sovereign has resided there for almost two centuries, it has remained the official residence of the Sovereign and the most senior royal palace in the UK...

 on November 26 and 28, 1633. According to Herbert, Shakespeare's play was "liked", but Fletcher's play was "very well liked."

On April 7, 1634, the King's Men played George Chapman
George Chapman
George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

's Bussy D'Ambois
Bussy D'Ambois
The Tragedy of Bussy D'Ambois is a Jacobean stage play written by George Chapman. Classified as either a tragedy or "contemporary history," Bussy D'Ambois is widely considered Chapman's greatest play, and is the earliest in a series of plays that Chapman wrote about the French political scene in...

at Court. The title role was reportedly played by Eliard Swanston; Joseph Taylor, at this point in his career, was too "grey" for the role of a young firebrand. The company played the same play at Court again on March 27, 1638.

In the early 1630s, William Heminges
William Heminges
William Heminges , also Hemminges, Heminge, and other variants, was a playwright and theatrical figure of the Caroline period. He was the ninth child and third son of John Heminges, the actor and colleague of William Shakespeare.William Heminges was christened on October 3, 1602, in the parish of...

 sold off the theatre shares he'd inherited from his father upon John Heminges's death (1630). He sold (clandestinely, perhaps) two shares in the Blackfriars and three in the Globe to King's Man John Shank, for £506. In response to the sale, three other King's Men, Eliard Swanston, Thomas Pollard, and Robert Benfield, appealed to the Lord Chamberlain
Lord Chamberlain
The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdom and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State....

 (then Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke
Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and 1st Earl of Montgomery KG was an English courtier and politician active during the reigns of James I and Charles I...

) for a chance to buy shares for themselves. Several documents in this matter, including back-and-forth statements from the three petitioners and from Cuthbert Burbage and John Shank, still exist; they contain abundant information on the company's business c. 1635.

When the petitioners began their campaign, the eight Blackfriars shares were distributed this way: Shank held two, and Taylor, Lowin, Underwood, Cuthbert Burbage, Mrs. Condell (Henry Condell's widow), and Winifred Robinson (Richard Burbage's widow and Richard Robinson's wife) had one each. Of the sixteen shares in the Globe, Cuthbert Burbage and Mrs. Robinson each owned three and a half shares, Shank had three, and Taylor, Lowin, and Mrs. Condell each owned two. Herbert ordered the existing shareholders to sell shares to Swanston, Benfield, and Pollard, though Burbage and Shank resisted.

The King's Men accompanied Charles I on a royal progress in 1636. In so doing they evaded, at least to some degree, the consequences of the prolonged theatre closing due to plague in 1636–37. Comedian John Shank died in 1636, as did Cuthbert Burbage. A royal warrant of 1636 reveals that Shakespeare's nephew William Hart (1600–39), the son of the poet's younger sister Joan, was an actor in the company at the time.

In the later 1630s the company took up the practice of staging plays written by courtiers favoured by Queen Henrietta Maria
Henrietta Maria of France
Henrietta Maria of France ; was the Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland as the wife of King Charles I...

, like William Cartwright's The Royal Slave (1636) or Sir John Suckling's Aglaura
Aglaura (play)
Aglaura is a late Caroline era stage play, written by Sir John Suckling. Several aspects of the play have led critics to treat it as a key development and a marker of the final decadent phase of English Renaissance drama.-Performance:...

(1637); they were rewarded with the lavish costumes of the productions. The company's repertory narrowed in this era; they produced fewer new plays, and those they did stage were mainly these subsidized courtly works. Their economic situation also worsened; from a high of fifteen in 1625, the number of sharers dropped to nine by 1636.

Unable to foresee the coming collapse of 1642, the King's Men undertook a major expansion around 1640. They brought in five new men as actors and sharers: William Allen
William Allen (actor)
William Allen was a prominent English actor in the Caroline era. He belonged to both of the most important theatre companies of his generation, Queen Henrietta's Men and the King's Men....

, Theophilus Bird
Theophilus Bird
Theophilus Bird, or Bourne, was a seventeenth-century English actor. Bird began his stage career in the Stuart era of English Renaissance theatre, and ended it in the Restoration period; he was one of the relatively few actors who managed to resume their careers after the eighteen-year enforced...

, Michael Bowyer
Michael Bowyer
Michael Bowyer was an actor in English Renaissance theatre in the Jacobean and Caroline eras. He spent most of his maturity with Queen Henrietta's Men, but finished his career with the King's Men...

, Hugh Clark
Hugh Clark
Hugh Clark was a prominent English actor of the Caroline era. He worked in both of the main theatre companies of his time, Queen Henrietta's Men and the King's Men....

, and William Robbins
William Robbins (actor)
William Robbins , also Robins, Robinson, or Robson, was a prominent comic actor in the Jacobean and Caroline eras....

. All five were veterans of Queen Henrietta's Men
Queen Henrietta's Men
Queen Henrietta's Men was an important playing company or troupe of actors in Caroline era London. At their peak of popularity, Queen Henrietta's Men were the second leading troupe of the day, after only the King's Men.-Beginnings:...

; and all five were made Grooms of the Chamber
Groom of the Chamber
Groom of the Chamber and Groom of the Privy Chamber were positions in the Royal Household of the English monarchy, the latter considerably more elevated. Other Ancien Régime royal establishments in Europe had comparable officers, often with similar titles...

 on January 22, 1641, along with Stephen Hammerton. With Massinger's death in 1640, the troupe also needed a new house dramatist; James Shirley
James Shirley
James Shirley was an English dramatist.He belonged to the great period of English dramatic literature, but, in Lamb's words, he "claims a place among the worthies of this period, not so much for any transcendent genius in himself, as that he was the last of a great race, all of whom spoke nearly...

 was recruited for the job. The company staged Shirley's The Cardinal
The Cardinal (play)
The Cardinal is a Caroline era stage play, a tragedy by James Shirley. It was licensed for performance by Sir Henry Herbert, the Master of the Revels, on November 25, 1641, and first published in 1653. Nineteenth-century critics like Edmund Gosse, and twentieth-century critics like Fredson Bowers,...

in 1641, and his The Sisters
The Sisters (play)
The Sisters is a Caroline stage play, a comedy written by James Shirley. It was the last of Shirley's plays performed in London prior to the closing of the theatres in September 1642, at the start of the English Civil War...

in the Spring of 1642. The production of Shirley's next work, The Court Secret
The Court Secret
The Court Secret is a Caroline era stage play, a tragicomedy written by James Shirley, and first published in 1653. It is generally regarded as the final play Shirley wrote as a professional dramatist....

, was prevented by the theatre closure in September 1642.

Aftermath


1642: the Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

s in Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 gained control over the city of London at the beginning of the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, and ordered the closing of all theatres on September 2. The theatres remained officially closed until the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 in 1660.

In 1646, the King's Men received back-pay from Parliament, money they were still owed for pre-1642 performances.

Clandestine and sporadic theatre activity occurred. 1647 was a year of relative official leniency, when theatrical performances were not uncommon. Ten actors signed the dedication in the 1647 Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher were the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, who collaborated in their writing during the reign of James I ....

 folio as the King's Men; these were Robert Benfield, Theophilus Bird
Theophilus Bird
Theophilus Bird, or Bourne, was a seventeenth-century English actor. Bird began his stage career in the Stuart era of English Renaissance theatre, and ended it in the Restoration period; he was one of the relatively few actors who managed to resume their careers after the eighteen-year enforced...

, Hugh Clark
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

, Stephen Hammerton, John Lowin, Thomas Pollard, Richard Robinson, Joseph Taylor, Eliard Swanston, and William Allen
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

. The first seven men on that list also signed a contract as sharers in the King's Men on January 28, 1648, showing that the company was re-activating, or attempting to re-activate, at that time. This iteration of the company collapsed in July of the same year when it failed to make a payment.

Another attempt to revive the troupe followed during the winter of 1648–49, with a younger group of actors than the previous crew of veterans; this new group of 16 included Walter Clun
King's Men personnel
King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642...

 and Charles Hart
Charles Hart (17th-century actor)
Charles Hart was a prominent British Restoration actor.A Charles Hart was christened on 11 December 1625, in the parish of St. Giles Cripplegate, in London. It is not absolutely certain that this was the actor, though the name was not common at the time...

, who had played with the King's Men as boys before the 1642 closing. These two plus eight others signed a contract on December 27, 1648 with one Walter Conway, an upholsterer who was their financier. This effort also failed, and was producing litigation as late as 1661.

Repression grew stronger after 1647: in February 1648 and January 1649, King's Men players were arrested in the midst of performances. [See: Rollo Duke of Normandy
Rollo Duke of Normandy
Rollo Duke of Normandy, also known as The Bloody Brother, is a play written in collaboration by John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, Ben Jonson, and George Chapman. Scholars have disputed almost everything about the play; but it was probably written sometime in the 1612–24 era and later revised,...

.]

Some company members chose alternative careers; Eliard Swanston became a jeweller, while hired men Alexander Gough
Alexander Gough
Alexander Gough , also Goughe or Goffe, was an English actor in the Caroline era. He started out as a boy player filling female roles; during the period of the English Civil War and the Interregnum when the theatres were closed and actors out of work, Gough became involved in the publication of...

 and Andrew Pennycuicke
Andrew Pennycuicke
Andrew Pennycuicke was a mid-seventeenth-century actor and publisher; he was responsible for publishing a number of plays of English Renaissance drama.What little is known of Pennycuicke's acting career comes from his own publications...

 became stationers
Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Stationers' Company was founded in 1403; it received a Royal Charter in 1557...

.

By the time the theatres formally re-opened in 1660, few of the old players and playwrights remained, and the old theatrical practices and traditions had largely been lost. Female roles were soon performed by women rather than boys [see Edward Kynaston
Edward Kynaston
Edward Kynaston was an English actor, one of the last Restoration "boy players," young male actors who played women's roles.-Career:...

; Margaret Hughes
Margaret Hughes
Margaret Hughes , also Peg Hughes or Margaret Hewes, is often credited as the first professional actress on the English stage...

], and the open-air playhouses common in the past were no more; the more elite higher-priced indoor theaters became the norm.

Although a new King's Company
King's Company
The King's Company was one of two enterprises granted the rights to mount theatrical productions in London at the start of the English Restoration. It existed from 1660 to 1682.-History:...

 was established, it had little in common with its predecessor other than a royal patron (though a few members of the old company, like Charles Hart and Walter Clun, made the transition). The Restoration drama in which it participated was largely a new foundation. While Elizabethan and Jacobean classics were the mainstay of the Restoration repertory, many, particularly the tragedies, were adapted to conform to new tastes influenced by the French theatre of Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

. The Elizabethan features of multitude of scenes, multitude of characters, and melange of genres lived on primarily in Restoration comedy
Restoration comedy
Restoration comedy refers to English comedies written and performed in the Restoration period from 1660 to 1710. After public stage performances had been banned for 18 years by the Puritan regime, the re-opening of the theatres in 1660 signalled a renaissance of English drama...

.