Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

Sticky: Erasmus as a source for ‘Cast our Caps’

In the play ‘The Beggars Bush’ the election of Clause as the King of the Beggars in Act II Scene 1 is celebrated with a song sung by “orator” Higgen. The song was reproduced as a seperate text in many collections of songs. It is generally ascribed to John Fletcher. Much of the beggars material in ‘The Beggars Bush’ was taken from the rogue literature of the late sixteenth and early seventeeth century. However, the source for the song is a much earlier and more respectable text – The Colloquies’ of Desiderius Erasmus, the “Prince of Christian Humanists”

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Posted: December 28th, 2014 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »


Philip Henslowe c.1555-1616

Philip Henslowe provides a link between the area of a cluster of early Beggars Bush place names in Sussex and many of the early authors who used Beggars Bush in their works. He is best known for his “Diary”, which is the main primary source for the day to day workings of Elizabethan theatre. He was an entrepreneur with wide business and family links in London and Sussex. I cannot show that he ever used the phrase, but he must have been aware of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: June 27th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Francis Beaumont

Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) was the son of an eminent and wealthy judge. His family included recusants on both sides. He was born in Leicestershire, and educated at Oxford, before moving on to the Inns of Court in 1600. He became associated with Ben Jonson and the Mermaid theatre, although Jonson is reported to have said “Beaumont loved too much himself and his own verses”. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 15th, 2011 | Filed under: The Play | Tags: , | No Comments »


Philip Massinger

Philip Massinger (1583-1640) was the son of an MP who was steward to the Earl of Pembroke. He was born at or near the Pembroke seat at Wilton near Salisbury, and educated at Oxford until 1606. It is not known when he began to write but in 1620 John Taylor noted him as a well-known playwright. He wrote with various playwrights, but he collaborated mainly with John Fletcher after Francis Beaumont ceased to write. After Fletcher’s death Massinger carried on as chief writer for the King’s Men, until his death in 1640 in Bankside. He is reputed to have been buried in the same grave is Fletcher. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 15th, 2011 | Filed under: The Play | Tags: , , | No Comments »


The Droll The Lame Common-Wealth 1673

This is the droll from The Wits, by Francis Kirkman (1673) which is based on  the text of Act 2, Scene 1 of Beggar’s Bush, by Fletcher & Massinger.The text is take from The Wits, or Sport Upon Sport”, ed. J. J. Elson (1932). The spelling is uncorrected. The notes on canting are based on the glossary in A V Judges, The Elizabethan Underworld. [1]
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Posted: March 28th, 2011 | Filed under: The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Sticky: Francis Kirkman The Lame Commonwealth in The Wits 1662 & 1673

The Wits, or Sport for Sport a collection of drolls (short plays) included one based on Act II Scene 1 of The Beggars Bush called The Lame Common-Wealth. This was adapted for informal and small scale performance anywhere. It may have been important in the distribution of Beggars Bush as a place name. At the very least it is an intriguing byway and example of the remarkable entrepreneurial career of the publisher Francis Kirkman. The frontispiece is widely reproduced, and inaccurately described, but demonstrates the popularity of the character Clause from the play & droll.
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Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Sticky: Southwark, Surrey Beggars Bush c.17-c.18

There seem to have been at least two Beggars Bush pubs in London; one in St Giles north of the Thames and one in Southwark south of the river. Beyond that little can be reliably said about the Southwark example. It was probably in Gravel Lane  near Paris Garden. It was there in the reign of William III (1688-1702). It may have been in existence earlier during the period that Southwark was the centre of theatrical activity in London, and the home of writers such as John Fletcher. It is likely to be the inn referred to in the ballad London’s Ordinarie c.1685.

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Posted: March 19th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »


John Taylor The Praise, Antiquity and Commodity of Beggary, Beggars & begging, etc. 1621

“I have here made bold to present to your illiterate protection, a beggarly Pamphlet of my threed-bare invention . . . I thought to have dedicated it to Beggars Bush, neere Andever, or to his Hawthorne brother within a mile of Huntingdon; but I considered at last, that the laps of your long Coate could shelter me as well [o]r better than any beggarly Thorne-bush.”

The Fool

Taylor’s mock dedication from the introduction to his pamphlet was directed towards Archy Armstrong, King James’s Fool, and refers to his coat of motley, the symbol of the Fool. Taylor despised Armstrong, who was renowned for his illiteracy and venality. He refers elsewhere to Armstrong’s “nimble tongue, to make other mens money runne into your purse” and called him “the bright eye-dazeling mirrour of mirth, adelantado of alacrity, the pump of pastime, spout of sport and Regent of ridiculous Confabulations”.
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Posted: March 19th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Rye, East Sussex Beggars Bush 1578

Holinshed’s Chronicles were first published in 1578, with a second edition in 1587. It remains a substantial sourcebook for the history and geography of Britain in the late sixteenth century. In Book 6, section 15, the contributor William Harrison lists the principle fairs and markets by date. He says, “On Bartholomew day, at London, at Beggers bush beside Rie, at Teukesburie, at Sudburie, at Rie, at Nantwich, at Pagets, at Bromleie, at Norwich, at Northalerton, at Douer.”

“Rie” must be Rye in East Sussex, but the reference is not without difficulties. It seems unlikely that there would have been a fair “beside” Rye and “at” Rye on the same day.
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Posted: March 13th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Albany Cape Province South Africa Beggars Bush 1832

Presently the name of an unoccupied farm and State Forest Nature Reserve in the Albany Division of Cape Province, South Africa. The situation is very similar to the earlier “frontier” sites at Philipstown, County Offally and Charles River, Virginia.

Albany is the area south and east of the Great Fish River. The first Europeans to settle the area were trekboers in the 1770s. It was known as the Zuurveld (sour grassland) from the characteristic of the grass to lose nutritional value after about 4 months grazing.
The area became the scene of conflict in the 1780s between Dutch East India Company and the Xhosa, and then between the British and Xhosa & Khoikoi, in the British Army’s first introduction to “bush warfare”. Between 1779 and 1878 there were Nine Frontier Wars. From 1811 the British adopted a policy of driving the Xhosa across the Fish River, and a series of frontier forts was erected. The name Albany was imposed in 1813, probably after the birthplace in New York of Jacob Cuyler, the landrost (governor).  The motto on the coat of arms of the Division is “Take Root or Die” taken from a phrase in an autobiography of an early settler describing his necessary attitude on arrival. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: March 13th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »