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

John Clavell A Lost Prologue to The Beggars Bush ?1637

A Begger haunts, where he good Dole receives

The Nigard stoppes, for he, his prayers, deceaves,

Your Liberall Charrity from open Palmes

Makes us this confident to Aske your Almes

The Beggers have their Motives: Soe have wee

They crye their loss of Limbes, Age, Insanitiee

Theise our Infant days w’yee, yet: our Playes

(Though wee act none but such as got the Bayes)

Are Old: our habites too are meane: the same

Our action maimed, decrepit, feeble, Lame,

All movers of compassion: Let that fall

(as usuill) & your Charity mends all

For as A generall Rule wee ever make it

Not what? Or how we Act? But how you take it.

This prologue to Fletcher & Massinger’s play The Beggars Bush (1622) survives in one manuscript copy in the notebook of John Clavell, with notes, copy letters, epigrams and remedies.  They were probably written by Clavell in 1637 when he was in Ireland. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 24th, 2012 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »


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 »


John Fletcher

John Fletcher (1579-1625) was born in Rye, Sussex, and came from a staunchly Protestant family including many clergymen. He is connected with Sussex, where there are many early Beggars Bush place names and the phrase was known to be in use. He can also be assumed to have encountered the Huntingdon Beggars Bush site, or Saxton’s Five Counties Map through studying at Cambridge, his father’s appointments, or his patrons. 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 a droll in The Wits, by Francis Kirkman (1673) which is based on  the text of Act 2, Scene 1 of Beggar’s Bush, by Fletcher & Massinger.

This text is taken 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 »


John Fletcher & Philip Massinger The Beggars Bush 1622

“The Beggars Bush” is a play written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger in 1622, but commonly included in the “Beaumont and Fletcher” canon. Through performance, print, characters and development of the original text it was likely to have made a substantial contribution to the survival and distribution of the literary phrase. As to the eponymous Beggars Bush itself the play is vague. It is a meeting place for the beggar characters, some of whom, it is revealed, are not beggars at all. It does not attempt to portray a real location – the play is not set in England but in and around Bruges.

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Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | 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 »