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The Privy Council, 1597.

A letter to Richard Topclyfe, Thomas Fowler, and Richard Skevington, esquires, Doctour Fletcher and Mr. Wilbraham.

Uppon informacion given us of a lewd plaie [The Isle of Dogs] that was plaied in one of the plaiehowses on the Bancke Side, contanynge very seditious and sclanderous matter, wee caused some of the players [Robert Shaw, Gabriel Spencer, and Ben Jonson] to be apprehended and comytted to pryson, whereof one of them [Ben Jonson] was not only an actor but a maker of parte of the said plaie. For as moche as yt ys thought meete that the rest of the players or actors in that matter shalbe apprehended to receave soche punyshment as theire leude and mutynous behavior doth deserve, these shalbe therefore to require you to examine those of the plaiers that are comytted, whose names are knowne to you, Mr. Topclyfe, what ys become of the rest of theire fellowes that either had theire partes in the devysinge of that sedytious matter or that were actors or plaiers in the same, what copies they have given forth of the said playe and to whome, and soche other pointes as you shall thincke meete to be demaunded of them, wherein you shall require them to deale trulie as they will looke to receave anie favour. Wee praie you also to peruse soch papers as were fownde in Nash his lodgings, which Ferrys, a Messenger of the Chamber, shall delyver unto you, and to certyfie us th’examynacions you take.

[Acts of the Privy Council 1597, New Series, ed. J. R. Dasent, 1890

-, xxvii, 338. The letter was written in the latter half of July, and relates to the performance of The Isle of Dogs by the Pembroke's Company at the Swan. For a full discussion of this episode see Joseph Q. Adams, Shakespearean Playhouses, pp. 170-75; 15455.]

Philip Henslowe, 1597.
Rof Bengemenes Johnsones.

Share as followeth 1597

R. the 28 of July 1597....

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lent unto Bengemen Johnson player the 28 of July 1597 in Redey mony the some of fower poundes to be payd yt agayne when so ever ether I or any for me shall demande yt I saye..

wittnes E Alleyn & John Synger

[Henslowe's Diary, ed. W. W. Greg, 1904, pp. 47, 200. The meaning of the first passage is not clear; the second passage suggests the interpretation that when Jonson was in trouble over The Isle of Dogs he applied to Henslowe for aid.]

The Privy Council, 1597.

A warrant to the keeper of the Marshalsea to release Gabriell Spencer and Robert Shaa, stage-players, out of prison, who were of lat comitted to his custodie. The like warrant for the releasing of Benjamine Johnson.


[Acts of the Privy Council 1597, New Series, ed. J. R. Dasent, 1904, xxviii, 33.]

The Northumberland Manuscripts, about 1597-8.
[Table of Contents.]


Rychard the second

Rychard the third

Asmund and Cornelia

Ile of Doges frmnt [fragment] by Thomas Nashe & inferior plaier[s].

[Northumberland Manuscripts: Collotype Facsimile and Type Transcript of an Elizabethan Manuscript preserved at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, ed. F. J. Burgoyne, 1904.]

Philip Henslowe, 1597-98.
lent unto Bengemen Johnsone the [2] 3 of desembr
1597 upon a Bocke weh he was to writte for us
befor crysmas next after the date herof weh he xxs
showed the plotte unto the company J saye
lente in Redy money unto hime the some of....
lent unto Bengemen Johnson the 3 of desembr
1597 upon a boocke weh he showed the plotte unto
the company weh he promysed to dd unto the
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lent Bengemyne Johnson the 5 of Jenewary 1597
J Redy mony the some of.

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lent unto the company the 18 of aguste 1598 to
bye a Boocke called hoote anger sone cowld of
m' porter m' cheattell & bengemen Johnson in
fulle payment the some of. . .


Lent unto Robart shawe & Jewbey the 23 of
Octobr 1598 to lend unto m' Chapmane one his
playe boocke & ij ectes of a tragedie of bengemens
plotte the some of....

[Henslowe's Diary, ed. W. W. Greg, 1904, pp. 70, 82, 200, 93, 98.]


Francis Meres, 1598.

So these are our best for Tragedie, The Lorde Buckhurst, Doctor Leg of Cambridge, Doctor Edes of Oxford, Master Edward Ferris, the author of the Mirror for Magistrates, Marlow, Peele, Watson, Kid, Shakespeare, Drayton, Chapman, Decker, and Beniamin Iohnson.

[Palladis Tamia, 1598.]

Middlesex Sessions' Rolls, 1598.

22 September, 40 Elizabeth.-True Bill against Benjamin Johnson, late of London, yoman, for killing Gabriel Spencer in the fields of Shorediche.

Cogn' Indictament petit librum legit vt Cl'icus sign' cum l'r'a T Et delr juxta formam statut', &c.

Middss: Juratores pro D'na Regina p'ntant qd Benjaminus Johnson nup' de London yoman vicesimo secundo die Septembris Anno regni d'n'e n'r'e Elizabethe Dei gra' Anglie Franc' et Hib' nie Regine fidei defensor', &c., quadragesimo vi & armis, &c. In et sup' quendam Gabrielem Spencer in pace Dei & d'c'e d'n'e Regine apud Shordiche in Com' Midd' pred' in Campis ib'm existen insultu' fecit Eteund'm Gabrielem cum quodam gladio de ferro et calibe vocat' a Rapiour precii iiis. quem in manu sua dextra adtunc & ibi'm h'uit et tenuit extract' felonice ac voluntar’

percussit & pupugit Dans eidem Gabrieli Spencer adtunc & ib'm cu' gladio pred' in et sup' dextern' latus ip'ius Gabrielis unam plagam mortalem p'funditat' sex pollic' & latidud' unius pollicis de qua quidem plaga mortali id'm Gabriel Spencer apud Shordiche pred' in pred'c'o Com' Midd' in Campis pred'c'is adtunc & ib'm instant' obiit Et sic Jur' pred'c'i dicunt sup' Sacr'm suu' qd prefat' Benjaminus Johnson pred'c'm Gabrielem Spencer apud Shorediche pred'in pred'c'o Com' Midd' & in Campis predic'is [die & anno] predic'is felonice et voluntar' interfecit & occidit contra pacem D'c'e D'n'e Regine, &c.


He confesses the indictment, asks for the book, reads like a clerk, is marked with the letter T, and is delivered according to the statute, &c.

Middlesex: The jurors for the Lady the Queen present, that Benjamin Johnson, late of London, yeoman, on the 22nd day of September, in the fortieth year of the reign of our Lady Elizabeth, by God's grace Queen of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &., with force and arms, &c., made an attack against and upon a certain Gabriel Spencer, being in God's and the said Lady the Queen's peace, at Shordiche in the aforesaid county of Middlesex, in the Fields there, and with a certain sword of iron and steel called a Rapiour, of the price of three shillings, which he then and there had and held drawn in his right hand, feloniously and wilfully beat and struck the same Gabriel, giving then and there to the same Gabriel Spencer with the aforesaid sword a mortal wound of the depth of six inches and of the breadth of one inch, in and upon the right side of the same Gabriel, of which mortal blow the same Gabriel Spencer at Shordiche aforesaid, in the aforesaid county, in the aforesaid Fields, then and there died instantly. And thus the aforesaid jurors say upon their oath, that the aforesaid Benjamin Johnson, at Shordiche aforesaid, in the aforesaid county of Middlesex, and in the aforesaid Fields, in the year and day aforesaid, feloniously and wilfully killed and slew the aforesaid Gabriel Spencer, against the peace of the said Lady the Queen, &c.

[Middlesex Sessions' Rolls, ed. J. C. Jeaffreson, 1886-92, i, 249, xxxviii.]

Philip Henslowe, 1598.

Letter to Edward Alleyn, September 26, 1598.

J will teall you some [news] but yt is for me harde & heavey sence you weare wth me J haue loste one of my company wch hurteth me greatley that is gabrell for he is slayen in hogesden [Hoxton] fylldes by the hands of benge[men] Jonson bricklayer therfore J wold fayne haue alittell of your cownsell yf J cowld you' assured frend

to my power

Phillippe Henlowe

[Henslowe Papers, ed. W. W. Greg, 1907, p. 47.]

Thomas Nashe, 1599.

The straunge turning of the Ile of Dogs fro a commedie to a tragedie two summers past, with the troublesome stir which hapned aboute it, is a generall rumour that hath filled all England. [In a marginal gloss Nashe says:] I hauing begun but the induction and first act of it, the other foure acts without my consent, or the least guesse of my drift, or scope, by the players were supplied, which bred both their trouble and mine to.

Philip Henslowe, 1599.

Lent unto w Borne alles birde the 10 of aguste 1599 to Lend unto bengemyne Johnsone & thomas deckers in earneste of ther boock wch they [are] a writtenge called pagge of p[le]moth the some.

[Lenten Stuffe, 1599; The Works of Thomas Nashe, ed. R. B. McKerrow, 1905, iii, 153-54. For Jonson's share in The Isle of Dogs see the entries under the year 1597.]


Lent unto Thomas downton the 3 of Septmbr 1599 to lend unto Thomas deckers Bengemen Johnson hary chettell & other Jentellman in earneste of a xxxxX® playe calle Robart the second kinge of scottes tragedie the some of..


Lent unto w Borne the 27 of Setmbr 1599 to lend unto Bengemen Johnsone in earneste of a Booke xx called the scottes tragedie the some of..

[Henslowe's Diary, ed. W. W. Greg, 1904, i, 110, HII, 112.]

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