Kemp’s Nine Days’ Wonder (1994)

Although Nine Days’ Wonder has had four previous editions, no editor has seen fit to include a critical commentary. G. B. Harrison has a summary of Kemp’s pamphlet in Elizabethan Plays and Players, and that is all. 

The Stationers Register informs us that on “April 22, [1600], Mr. Linge, Entered for his copye under the handes of Mr. Harsnet and Mr. Man warden a booke called Kemps morris to Norwich.” The published quarto is of extreme rarity. Only one copy is known to exist and that is preserved in the Bodleian Library. [1]

There is some difference of opinion as to when the morris took place. Chambers, Arber and Wiles assign the event to early 1600, shortly before publication. Dyce and others give 1599. Kemp refers to the Norwich mayor, “Roger Weild” (Kemp’s earlier reference to him as “Wiler” is probably a printer’s error). Dyce consulted the list of mayors of Norwich drawn up by Norwich historian Francis Blomefield and found: “1598, Francis Rugg, 1599, Roger Weld, 1600, Alex. Thurston.” Roger Weld is obviously intended. But Dyce was misled in dating the morris because he did not ascertain when the mayor’s term began. According to Blomefield, “In 1472, it is said that the day of the choice of the mayor was changed from March the 1st to May the 1st, and hath continued so to this time.” [2] Weld’s term thus ran from May 1599 to May 1600. The morris, then, clearly belongs to February-March 1600.

Kemp says he began his journey on the first Monday in Clean Lent, the first week of Lent. Pure Lent, otherwise known as Clean Lent, was nomenclature borrowed from the Eastern Church. What relationship this bore to contemporary practice in England I am uncertain. Easter Sunday of 1600 (a leap year), fell on April 2nd. [3] This means that Quadrigesima Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, fell on February 20. It follows that Kemp departed London on Monday, February 21. He approached Norwich on Wednesday, March 15, but delayed his actual entrance until Saturday, March 18. The title of the pamphlet is thus a misnomer. It gives rise to the idea that Kemp danced from London to Norwich in nine consecutive days. In fact, almost four weeks elapsed from departure to arrival.

Nine Days’ Wonder begins with a dedication. The body of the text, like Gaul, divides into three parts. The first is a report of the journey; the second, oddly, is Kemp’s account of the wagers on the morris; third is a detective story, the tale of Kemp’s attempt to discover the identity of a certain ballad-maker who had ridiculed him. I will consider these items in order.

In the Elizabethan age, a dedication was designed to elicit a gift of money from a wealthy patron. During the plague years of 1593-94, when the public theatres were closed, Shakespeare dedicated his narrative poems Venus and Adonis  and The Rape of Lucrece to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, for this express purpose. Anyone who made a living by his pen, an up and down existence at best, sought out patrons. Since Kemp felt the need to dedicate his pamphlet, he must have been impecunious.

 The salutation reads “To the true ennobled lady, and his most bountiful mistress, Mistress Anne Fitton, Maid of Honor to the most sacred maid, royal Queen Elizabeth.” It is well known that the Fitton who was Maid of Honor to the Queen was named Mary. Mary Fitton was notorious for her liaisons, one with Sir Richard Leveson, Admiral of the Fleet, another with the Earl of Pembroke, one of Shakespeare’s “incomparable brethren.” [4] Mary had a sister Anne but she married young and was never a Maid of Honor.
Nungezer, following Chambers and Dyce, thought that Kemp had confused the names. Still, it is difficult to believe that Kemp would mistake the Christian name of his patroness. We are thus confronted with a crux. David Wiles concludes that the “obvious dedicatee” was not Mary Fitton but another Maid of Honor, Anne Russell. Wiles reasons that Kemp’s error is deliberate: “Posturing as a man bidding for court patronage, Kemp ironically certifies his true identity as a plain man, with no courtly aspirations.” [5] This is nonsensical. We must remember that the only possible payoff for a dedicatee was the flattery to be derived from having his/her name in print. Mistaking the name of the patron would defeat the purpose of the dedication—to obtain a gift of money. No one would make such a mistake deliberately. So, hard to believe as it may be, Kemp must have confused Mary’s christian name with either her sister’s or, more probably, Anne Russell’s, whose impending wedding, which may have been on Kemp’s mind, would be a major social event.

There is a sadly desperate tone to Kemp’s dedication. He tells his patroness that he is forced to seek her “protection,” or he “shall appear to the world without a face [dignity].” He records among the injustices done to him that he had been ridiculed in at least three different broadsides. The association of the Trenchmore (a boisterous dance in triple time), in an even more audacious deprecation, tells us, with ultimate irony, that the greatest of all jigmakers had himself been jigged. Kemp then laments his rash departure from the Chamberlain’s Men. While the dedication appears to have been written prior to the journey, it was no doubt written afterwards.

Kemp ostentatiously describes himself as “Cavaleiro Kemp, Headmaster of Morris Dancers, High Headborough of Heighs and Only Tricker of your Trill-lillies and the Best Bel-shangles between Sion and Mount Surrey.” Some translation is called for. “High Headborough of Heighs” might be rendered “Master of Laughter.” “Only Tricker of your Trill-lillies,” is “the only one who can make you laugh until tears run down your cheeks.” “Best Bel-shangles” means “best at sing-song.” No modesty here.

Acompanying Kemp were Thomas Sly, his taborer, William Bee, his servant, and George Sprat, referred to as his “overseer,” no doubt the individual selected by the bettors to make sure that Kemp adhered to the conditions of the wager. We learn later that there is another individual in the entourage who is something of a poet. According to Kemp, this contingent was followed by an audience of anywhere from fifty to two hundred people, and more, depending on whether he was on a country road or in a town. Upon leaving London, he says, multitudes witnessed his departure, many giving him coins. Some carried cream and cakes (as in the parochial festivals), ready to celebrate, thinking that he would give up the scheme within a mile of the city. But the naysayers underestimated Kemp’s determination and stamina. The first day ended short of Romford a distance of nearly thirteen miles. He went into town by horse. The first day’s dancing, however, took its toll on Kemp. He was at Romford two days in recuperation.

On Thursday morning he returned on horseback to the spot where he had stopped on Monday, a quarter-mile before Romford. As he passed through the town, as luck would have it, Kemp strained his hip and considered seeing a physician, but managed to dance his way out of pain. About six miles later he was at Burntwood. At this point, entirely unexpectedly, we learn something about the London theatre, information that is given nowhere else in the literature of the period.

Four low-lifes who had wagered on the morris followed Kemp’s entourage from London. Two of these men were apprehended taking a purse. Kemp, on being quizzed about the identity of these people responded, “I remembered one of them to be a noted cut-purse, such a one as we tie to a post on our stage, for all people to wonder at, when at a play they are taken for pilfering.” Here is a use of the public theatre stage posts which no one had ever suspected. Kemp left Burntwood by moonlight attempting to escape the hordes. But this was to no avail, he tells us, for he still had an audience of about fifty. Images of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Kemp spent the night at Ingerstone.

On Friday, Kemp set off for Chelmsford. At Witford Bridge he was greeted by a crowd which included the noted Sir Thomas Mildmay. Kemp gave him a pair of garters as a gift. At Chelmsford, Kemp says, it took an hour to pass through his inn gate, so enthusiastic was the audience (today he would also be harassed by a television remote trucks, reporters, and paparazzi). At length, he locked himself in his room and spoke to the crowd through a window. The following morning he danced three miles from Chelmsford but was forced by exhaustion to return there for two days’ recovery. Before leaving Chelmsford Kemp, upon request, danced with a girl of fourteen, the servant of a friend. This was an indoor event which took place in a large room. He fitted the girl with bells and danced with her for an hour.

Bells were an important part of the morris-dancer’s accoutrements. There might be anywhere from twenty to forty bells around each leg. The bells had various appellations—the fore-bell, the second bell, the treble, the tenor, the bass, and the double bell. Sometimes only treble trebles were used. The bells were occasionally jingled by the hands, or placed on the arms or wrists. In the time of Henry VIII, morris-dancers wore garters to which bells were attached. [6] In the woodcut depicting his journey found on the title page of his pamphlet, we see that Kemp continued the tradition. In the same illustration we see that Kemp also wore long, wide scarves, and plumed hat, other ancient trademarks of the morris dancer.

On Monday of the second week Kemp rode the three miles that he had danced the previous Saturday. Now for the first time he encountered hazardous footing. The narrow road was full of water and mud and he found himself in over his ankles. Two local youths decided to dance with him. One of them took a leap and, upon landing, became stuck, deep in the mud. His friend waded in and pulled him out. The unlucky youth thereupon swore off dancing. Kemp arrived in Braintree by noon. On Tuesday Kemp danced only three miles. Where he spent the night we are not told.

Kemp began his fifth day’s journey on Wednesday, dancing all the way to Sudbury. There he encountered a Master Foskew who plied him with advice on sundry topics including diet. A butcher joined Kemp in the morris, but gave up fatigued after a half mile. Then, a chubby, country lass (whom he calls Maid Marian), immortalized in a poem written by the poet member of the entourage, danced with Kemp for a mile. Later, arriving at Melford, he was entertained until Saturday by a country gentleman called Master Colt.

On Saturday, Colt’s fool danced with Kemp out of Melford. Kemp tells us that he thought he would shorten his journey to Bury by way of Clare, but that he found that route “farther and fouler.” Kemp was too embarassed to report what actually transpired. Clare is due west of Melford, and can in no way be thought a route to Bury. Bury is north of Melford; Norwich, the destination, is northeast. Colt’s fool, for his own sadistic amusement, must have purposely misdirected Kemp. Kemp did not discover the ruse until he reached Clare, six miles out of his way. He had no choice but to retrace his route, probably by horse, back to Melford, then north toward Bury on foot. On the way he was sumptuously entertained by a wealthy country woman, the Widow Everet. From there, Kemp danced to Bury, where he was trapped from Saturday until the following Thursday night due to a heavy snowfall.

On Friday of the third week, Kemp danced to Thetford. He was well rested and must have been getting stronger by the day, judging from his report. At Thetford he was entertained through the weekend by another gentleman, Sir Edwin Rich. On Monday of the fourth week, after receiving a gift of five pounds from Sir Edwin, Kemp was off to Rockland. At the inn there, he encountered a fussy, but amusing host, Kemp’s best characterization among the people he met during his travels. Like Maid Marian, the Host of Rockland was immortalized in verse. On Tuesday, Kemp made his way to Hingham.

On Wednesday he danced near Norwich, but rode in on horseback to consult with the Mayor, Roger Weld. It was decided that Kemp should rest until Saturday morning, ride out of Norwich, then dance his way back into the city, making a spectacular entrance. The grand moment had a farcical episode as its centerpiece. The press of the crowd caused Kemp to step on a girl’s skirt, which promptly came off—the poor lass suffering the jeers of unruly boys. The morris ends at Norwich Guildhall where Kemp’s dancing shoes were nailed to a wall.

At this point Kemp airs a commercial for his host, the Mayor. He holds Roger Weld up as an example of a successful businessman, and a man of chaste life, liberality, and temperance. Kemp, revealing a conservative streak, also uses the Mayor as a hammer to beat on heads of those “who sell their lands” or invest their inheritances only to become bankrupt.

Kemp ends the report of the journey with an apology to his patroness for being tedious, “poor wretch” that he is. He hastens to add, however, that Roger Weld had given him five pounds in gold as well as an annuity for life of forty shillings per year. The five pounds he had received of Sir Edwin Rich at Thetford, like the gift from Roger Weld, must have helped to defray the expenses of the trip. Though he does not say so, Kemp probably absorbed the costs of meals, accomodations, horses and a per diem for his taborer and servant. I imagine that George Sprat was forced to shift for himself.

In the brief second part of Nine Days’ Wonder, Kemp presents, though not in fiscal terms, the results of the wager. He won, of course, and tripled his initial investment. He does not say how many individuals he wagered with, but the implication is that the number was significant. Some paid off immediately. Others, a greater number, vanished. Kemp claims that if everyone had paid off, he would have been glad to make an accounting for his patroness. He says he will wait a little longer, then compose the list, marking with H, for honesty, those who coughed up, and K, for “ketlers,” presumably those who did not. Kemp closes this section, as he had begun the dedication, with a plea for “protection”—i.e., a handout.

Kemp begins the third part of Nine Days’ Wonder by requesting the ballad-makers to refrain from fabricating tales regarding his next “great journey” on which he is about to embark. Kemp excoriates the ballad-makers for their witlessness, and poverty—strange, as he himself is living in a glass house. Kemp must have had a lofty self-image.

Next is the seductive but barely comprehensible detective story, Kemp’s search for the author of the ‘”abominable” ballads. He initially suspects the broadside poet Thomas Deloney, but quickly discovers that Deloney is dead. The second suspect is a deviser of city pageants, probably Anthony Munday. For some unknown reason, Kemp crosses him off his short list. Our sleuth then gets a lead from a “penny poet” who directs him to “a fat filthy ballad-maker”—off to Southwark.

Kemp marches across London Bridge and spots his mark in the crowd at a play. Afterwards, the gumshoe cunningly plies the Fat One with a bowl of tobacco at a local tavern. Kemp then pops him with a direct accusation. The Fat One responds with an exhalation that launches burning tobacco out of the pipe, as from the blow-hole of a whale from hell. Then, after two tankards of Rhenish, the Fat One races through some rapid mood swings, like a manic-depressive, from violence, to laughter, to a soap opera account of how his father forced him to appear on the public stage. No dice. The Fat One turns out to be a false lead. Back to Gotham.

By chance, an informer friend shows our Sherlock a scurrilous book written by the  late “Jansonius” in Latin, which Kemp connects to (though the identity of this man is not certain), Richard Johnson. Finally, confronted by our indomitable private eye, “Johnson” at length confesses his misdeeds. In a maudlin peroration worthy of daytime television, Kemp forgives his tormentor and suggests that he apply his pen to more productive tasks.

During the course of his narrative, Kemp proffers several disclaimers. First, he is at great pains to convince us that he maintained sobriety throughout the journey, suggesting that the ballad-makers had accused him of alcoholism. Psychiatrists tell us that in every paranoia lies a grain of truth. Perhaps Kemp did have some difficulties with the bottle. Secondly, he is just as vehement in maintaining that he was accorded no special favors, such as being allowed to avoid tolls on the turnpikes, by denying that roads “were laid open for me.” Evidently, Kemp had also been accused of delivering gifts to the Queen. But on this strange point lacking development, there is no use speculating.

Nine Days’ Wonder is valuable for the light it throws on Will Kemp. It also contains the interesting fact that thieves were tied to the stage posts during performances in the public theatres. As a literary production, however, Nine Days’ Wonder is virtually devoid of merit. It even fails as the travelogue it is intended to be. Kemp’s memory after the fact is faulty. In one place he forgets to tell us where he spent the night. The narrative lacks clarity. His progress is not always easy to follow. I was forced to create a map to be able to understand it clearly. Kemp is careless. In writing of the last day’s journey, he mistakes the week he was in, saying that it was the second instead of the fourth. Such errors, along with missing and/or out of sequence details, make the reading frequently annoying. Darkly, the episode involving Master Colt’s fool shows that Kemp was less than a forthright individual. One can only wonder why he bothered to mention the wasted Melford-Clare-Melford trip at all. Still, if the subject were come to up in conversation, Kemp would have some explaning to do. His expedient excuse was a means of forestalling further embarrassment.

Kemp is not a professional writer as the glaring weaknesses testify. He frequently shifts tense, forgetting that he is addressing his patroness, in order to address the reader. David Wiles finds in this a split personality, a gentleman and a plain man, but thinks that it is a deliberate device ennabling Kemp “to project two levels simultaneously: the pretentious idiot on the surface, and the plain man beneath who rejects all pretension.” [7] Wiles reads far too much into Kemp’s work, crediting him with an insight and ability he did not possess. Nine Days’ Wonder is simply bad writing.

Kemp’s style is pedestrian. He exhibits, rather oddly for a comedian, little sense of humor, though in the concluding section he demonstrates that he can hurl amusing invective at the ballad-makers. Still, in that respect, he would not be entitled to carry the quill of Thomas Nashe (or even Robert Greene), who raised invective to the level of an art form. Kemp’s work reveals that he was neither a university-educated nor a self-taught intellectual. There is not a single observation of value. Moreover, of the dozen or so individuals who figure prominently in the journey, only two receive more than token characterization. Most are even denied a name. We especially hunger for details about the shadowy participants, Thomas Sly, the taborer, William Bee, the servant, the Anonymous Poet, and the tantalizing George Sprat, the overseer, who seems to have been the hybrid of a professional sports referee and Las Vegas oddsmaker Jimmy the Greek.



  1. William Kemp, Kemps Nine Daies Wonder (1600), John Lane, The Bodley Head Quartos, (London: 1922).
  2. Francis Blomefield, History of Norwich, (London: William Miller, 1806), vol. 4, 168).
  3. C. R. Cheney, The Handbook of Dates for Students of English History (London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1945).
  4. Alan Keen and Roger Lubbock, The Annotator (London: Putnam, 1954), 116.
  5. David Wiles, Shakespeare’s Clown (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 29.
  6. Francis Douce, “A Dissertation on the Ancient English Morris Dance,” in J. M. Gutch, ed., The Robin Hood Garlands and Ballads, London, 1850, 359-60.
  7. Wiles, op. cit., 29.


Nine Days’ Wonder

Previous Editions:

Kemp, William. Kemps Nine Daies Wonder (1600), ed. Alexander Dyce. London: The Camden Society, 1840.

Kemp, William. Kemps Nine Daies Wonder (1600), in Edward Arber, ed., An English Garner. Vol. 3. London, 1883.

Kemp, William. Nine Daies Wonder (1600), in E. Goldsmid, ed., Collectanea Adamantaea. Vol 2. Edinburgh, 1884.

Kemp, William. Kemps Nine Daies Wonder (1600), John Lane, The Bodley Head Quartos. London, 1922.

Kemp, William. Kemps Nine Daies Wonder, in G. B. Harrison, ed., Kinde Harts Dream. London, 1966.


Title page:

Kemps Nine Day’s Wonder Performed in a dance from London to Norwich. Containing the pleasure, pains and kind entertainment of William Kemp between London and that City in his late Morris. Wherein is somewhat [something] set down worth note; to reprove the slanders spread of him: many things merry, nothing hurtfull. Written

By himself to satisfy his friends.

London Printed by E[dward]. A[llde]. for Nicholas Ling, and are to be solde at his shop at the west door of Saint Paules Church. 1600.


To the true enobled Lady, and his most bountiful mistress, Mistress Anne Fitton, Maid of Honor to the most sacred maid, Royal Queen Elizabeth.

Honorable mistress, in the wane of my little wit I am forced to desire your protection, else every ballad-singer will proclaim me bankrupt of honesty. A sort [band] of mad fellows, seeing me merrily disposed in a Morris, have so bepainted me in print since my gambols began from London to Norwich, that (having but an ill face before) I shall appear to the world without a face, if your fair hand wipe not away their foul colors. One hath written Kemp’s Farewell to the tune of “Kerry, Merry, Buff”; another, His Desperate Dangers in His Late Travail; the third, His Entertainment to Newmarket, which town I came never near by the length of half the heath. Some swear, in a Trenchmore I have trod a good way to win the world; others that guess righter, affirm I have without good help danced myself out of the world; many say many things that were never thought. But, in a word, your poor servant offers the truth of his progress and profit to your honorable view: receive it, I beseech you, such as it is, rude and plain; for I know your pure judgement looks as soon to see beauty in a blackamoor, or hear smooth speech from a stammerer, as to find anything but blunt mirth in a Morris dancer, especially such a one as Will Kemp, that hath spent his life in mad jigs and merry jests.

Three reasons move me to make public this journey: one, to reprove lying fools I never knew; the other, to commend loving friends, which by the way [road] I daily found; the third, to show my duty to your honorable self, whose favors (among other bountiful friends) makes me (despite of this sad world) judge my heart cork and my heels feathers, so that methinks I could fly to Rome (at least hop to Rome, as the old proverb is) with a mortar on my head. In which light conceit I lowly beg pardon and leave, for my taborer strikes his “Hunt’s Up” [1]  I must to Norwich. Imagine, noble Mistress, I am now setting from my Lord Mayor’s, the hour about seven, the morning gloomy, the company many, my heart merry.

Your Ladyship’s most unworthy servant,

William Kemp

Kemp’s nine days’ wonder

Performed in a Morris from London to Norwich

Wherein every day’s journey is pleasantly set down, to satisfy his friends the truth against all lying ballad-makers; what he did, how he was welcome, and by whom entertained.

The first day’s journey, being the first Monday in clean Lent, from the right honorable the Lord Mayor’s of London.

The first Monday in Lent, the close morning promising a clear day, (attended on by Thomas Sly, [2] my taborer, William Bee, my servant, and George Sprat, appointed my overseer, that I should take no other ease but my prescribed order) myself, that’s I, otherwise called Cavaliero Kemp, Headmaster of Morris dancers, High Headborough of Heighs [laughter] and Only Tricker of your Trill-lillies [3] and the Best Bel-shangles [4] between Sion [near Brainford] and Mount Surrey [near Norwich], began frolickly to foot it from the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor’s of London towards the Right Worshipful (and truly bountiful) Master Mayor’s of Norwich.

My setting forward was somewhat before seven in the morning; my taborer stroke up merrily; and as fast as kind people thronging together would give me leave, through London I leaped. By the way many good old people, and diverse others of younger years, of mere kindness gave me bowed [bent] sixpences and groats, blessing me with their hearty prayers and God-speeds.

All that northeast suburb before named, multitudes of Londoners left not me: but either to keep a custom which many hold, that Mile End is no walk without recreation at Stratford Bow with cream and cakes, or else for love they bear toward me, or perhaps to make themselves merry if I should chance (as many thought) to give over my Morris within a mile of Mile End; however, many a thousand brought me to Bow; where I rested a while from dancing, but had small rest with those that would have urged me to drinking. But, I warrant you, Will Kemp was wise enough: to their full cups, kind thanks was my return, with gentleman-like protestations, as “Truly, sir, I dare not,” “It stands not with the congruity of my health”. “Congruity?” said I, how came that strange language in my mouth? I think scarcely that it is any Christian word, and yet it may be a good word for ought I know, though I never made it, nor do very well understand it; yet I am sure I have bought it at the word-mongers as dear a rate as I could have had a whole one hundred of bavins [small logs] at the woodmonger’s. Farewell, Congruity, for I mean now to be more concise, and stand upon evener bases; but I must neither stand nor sit, the taborer strikes alarum. Tickle it, good Tom, I’ll follow thee. Farewell, Bow; have over the bridge, where I heard say honest conscience was once drowned: it’s pity if it were so; but that’s no matter belonging to our Morris, let’s along to Stratford Langton.

Many good fellows being there met, and knowing how well I loved the sport, had prepared a bear-baiting; but so unreasonable were the multitudes of people, that I could only hear the bear roar and the dogs howl; therefore, forward I went with my hey-de-gaies [rural dances] to Ilford, where I again rested, and was by the people of the town and country thereabout, very, very, well welcomed, being offered carouses in the great spoon [5]; one whole draught [of it] being able at that time to have drawn my little wit dry; but being afraid of the old proverb (He had need of a long spoon that eats with the devil), I soberly gave my boon companions the slip.

From Ilford, by moonshine, I set forward, dancing within a quarter of a mile of Romford; where, in the highway, two strong jades [horses] (having belike some great quarrel to me unknown) were beating and biting either of the other; and such through God’s help was my good hap, that I escaped their hoofs, both being raised with their four feet over my head, like two smiths over an anvil.

There being the end of my first day’s Morris, a kind gentleman of London [a]lighting from his horse, would have no nay but I should leap into his saddle. To be plain with ye, I was not proud, but kindly took his kindlier offer, chiefly thereto urged by my weariness; so I rid to the inn at Romford. In that town, to give rest to my well-labored limbs, I continued two days, being much beholding to the townsmen for their love, but more to the Londoners that came hourly thither in great numbers to visit me, offering much more kindness than I was willing to accept.

The second day’s journey, being Thursday of the first week.

Thursday being market day at Burntwood, Tom Sly was earlier up than the lark, and sounded merrily the Morris: I roused myself, and returned from Romford to the place where I took horse the first night, dancing that quarter of a mile back again through Romford, and so merrily to Burntwood. Yet, now I remember it well, I had no great cause of mirth, for at Romford town’s end I strained my hip, and for a time endured exceeding pain; but being loath to trouble a surgeon, I held on, finding remedy by labor that had hurt me, for it came in a turn, and so in my dance I turned it out of service again.

The multitudes so were great at my coming to Burntwood, that I had much ado (though I made many entreaties and stays to get passage to my inn. In this town two cut-purses were taken, that with other two of their companions followed me from London (as many better disposed persons did): but these two dy-doppers [6] gave out, when they were apprehended, that they had laid wagers and betted about my journey; whereupon the officers bringing them to my inn, I justly denied their acquaintance, saving that I remembered one of them to be a noted cut-purse, such a one as we tie to a post on our stage, for all people to wonder at, when at a play they are taken pilfering. This fellow and his half-brother, being found with the deed, were sent to jail: their other two consorts had the charity of the town, and after a dance of Trenchmore at the whipping cross, they were sent back to London, where I am afraid there are too many of their occupation. To be short, I thought myself well rid of four such fellows, and I wish heartily that the whole world were clear of such companions [7].

Having rested well at Burntwood, the moon shining clearly, and the weather being calm, in the evening I tripped it to Ingerstone, stealing away from those numbers of people following me; yet do I what I could, I had about fifty in the company, some of London, the other of the country thereabout, that would needs, when they heard my tabor, trudge after me through thick and thin.

The third day’s journey, being Friday of the first week.

On Friday morning I set forward towards Chelmsford, not having passed two hundred, being the least company that I had in the daytime between London and that place. Onward I went, thus easily followed, till I come to Witford Bridge, where a number of country people, and many gentlemen and gentlewomen were gathered together to see me. Sir Thomas Mildmay [8], standing at his park pale [fence], received gently a pair of garters of me; gloves, points [tagged laces], and garters, being my ordinary merchandise [9], that I put out to enter for performance of my merry voyage. So much ado I had to pass by the people at Chelmsford, that it was more than an hour ere I could recover my inn gate, where I was fain to lock myself in my chamber, and pacify them with words out of a window instead of deeds: to deal plainly, I was so weary, that I could dance no more.

The next morning I footed it three mile of my way toward Braintree, but returned back again to Chelmsford, where I lay that Saturday and the next Sunday. The good cheer and kind welcome I had at Chemlsford was much more than I was willing to entertain; for my only desire was to refrain drink and be temperate in my diet. At Chelmsford, a maid not passing fourteen years of age, dwelling with one Sudley, my kind friend, made request to her master and dame that she might dance the Morris with me in a great large room. They being entreated, I was soon won to fit her with bells; [which] besides, she would have the old fashion, with napkin on [each of] her arms [10]; and to our jumps we fell. A whole hour she held out; but then being ready to lie down I left her off; but thus much in her praise, I would have challenged the strongest man in Chelmsford, and amongst many I think few would have done so much.

The fourth day’s journey, being Monday of the second week.

On Monday morning, very early, I rode the three miles that I danced the Saturday before; where alighting, my taborer struck up, and lightly I tripped forward; but I had the heaviest way that ever mad Morris dancer trod; yet,

With hey and ho, through thick and thin,
The hobby-horse quite forgotten,
I follow’d, as I did begin,
Although the way were rotten.

This foul way I could find no ease in, thick woods being on either side the lane; the lane likewise being full of deep holes, sometimes I skipped up to the waist; but it is an old proverb, that it is a little comfort to the miserable to have companions, and amidst this mirey [soggy] way I had some mirth by an unlooked for accident. It was the custom of honest country fellows, my unknown friends, upon hearing of my pipe (which might well be heard in a still morning or evening a mile), to get up and bear me company a little way. In this foul way two pretty plain youths watched me, and with their kindness somewhat hindered me. One, a fine light fellow, would be still before me, the other at my heels. At length, coming to a broad plash [pool] of water and mud, which could not be avoided, I fetched a rise, yet fell in over the ankles at the further end. My youth that followed me took his jump, and stuck fast in the midst, crying out to his companion, “Come, George, call ye this dancing? I’ll go no further,” for, indeed he could go no further, til his fellow was fain to wade and help him out. I could not choose but laugh to see how like two frogs they labored: a hearty farewell I gave them, and they faintly bade God speed me, saying if I danced that dirty way this seven years again, they would never dance after me.

Well, with much ado I got unto Braintree by noon, tarried there Monday night and the next day; only I danced three miles on Tuesday, to ease my Wednesday journey. If I should deny that I was welcome at Braintree, I should slander an honest crew of kind men, among whom I fared well, slept well, and was every way well used.

The fifth day’s journey, being Wednesday of the second week.

Taking advantage of my three miles that I had danced the day before, this Wednesday morning I tripped it to Sudbury; wither came to see a very kind gentleman, Master Foskew, that had before travelled afoot from London to Barwick, who giving me good counsel to observe temperate diet for my health, and other advice to be careful of my company, besides his liberal entertainment, departed, leaving me much indebted to his love.

In this town of Sudbury there came a lusty, tall fellow, a butcher by his profession, that would in a Morris keep me company to Bury: I being glad of his friendly offer, gave him thanks, and forward we did set; but ere ever we had measured half a mile of our way, he gave me over in the plain field, protesting, that if he might get a hundred pound, he would not hold out with me; for indeed my pace in dancing is not ordinary.

As he and I were parting, a lusty country lass being among the people, called him [a] faint-hearted lout, saying, “If I had begun to dance, I would have held out one mile though it had cost my life.” At which words many laughed. “Nay,” said she, “if the dancer will lend me a leash of his bells, I’ll enter to tread one mile with him myself.” I looked upon her, saw mirth in her eyes, heard boldness in her words, and beheld her ready to tuck up her russet petticoat; I fitted her with bells which she merrily taking, garnished her thick, short legs, and with a smooth brow bade the tabor begin. The drum struck; forward marched I with my merry maid Marian, who shook her fat sides, and footed it merrily to Melford, being a long mile. There parting with her, I gave her (besides her skinful of drink) an English crown to buy more drink; for, good wench, she was in a pitteous heat: my kindness she requited with dropping some dozen of short curtsies, and bidding God bless the dancer. I bade her adieu; and to give her her due, she had a good ear, danced truly, and we parted friendly. But ere I part with her, a good fellow, my friend, having writ an odd rhyme of her, I will make bold to set it down.

A country lass, brown as a berry,
Blithe of blee [complexion], in heart as merry,
Cheeks well fed, and sides well larded,
Every bone with fat flesh guarded,
Meeting merry Kemp by chance,
Was Marian in his Morris dance.
Her stump legs with bells were garnished,
Her brown brows with sweating varnished;
Her brown hips, when she was lag
To win her ground, went swig-a-swag;
Which to see all that came after
Were replete with mirthful laughter.
Yet she thumped it on her way
With a sportly hey-de-gay:
At a mile her dance she ended,
Kindly paid and well commended.

At Melford diverse gentlemen met me, who brought me to one Master Colt’s, a very kind and worshipful gentleman, where I had unexpected entertainment til Saturday. From whose house, having hope somewhat to amend my way to Bury, I determined to go by Clare, but I found it to be both farther and fouler.

The sixth day’s journey, being Saturday of the second week.

From Wednesday night til Saturday having been very troublesome but much more welcome to Master Colt’s, in the morning I took my leave, and was accompanied with many Gentlemen a mile of my way. Which mile Master Colt his fool would needs dance with me, and had his desire, where leaving me, two fools parted fair in a foul way; I keeping on my course to Clare, where I a while rested, and then cheerfully set forwards to Bury.

Passing from Clare towards Bury, I was invited to the house of a very bountiful widow, whose husband during his life was a yeoman of that county; dying rich, no doubt, as might well appear, from the riches and plenty that abounded in every corner of the house. She is called the Widow Everet. At her house were met about thirty gentlemen. Such, and so plentiful variety of good fare I have very seldom seen in any commoner’s house. Her behavior being very modest and friendly, argued her bringing up not to be rude. She was a woman of good presence, and, if a fool may judge, of no small discretion.

From this widow’s I danced to Bury, coming in on the Saturday in the afternoon, at what time the Right Honorable Lord Chief Justice [11] entered at another gate of the town. The wondering and regardless multitude making his honor clear way, left the streets where he passed to gape at me; the throng of them being so great that poor Will Kemp was seven times stayed ere he could recover his inn. By reason of the great snow that fell, I stayed at Bury from Saturday in the second week of my setting forth til Thursday night the next week following.

The seventh day’s journey, being Friday of the third week.

Upon Friday morning I set on towards Thetford, dancing that ten mile in three hours; for I left Bury somewhat after seven in the morning, and was at Thetford somewhat after ten that same forenoon. But, indeed, considering how I had been booted [shoes covered with mud] the other journeys before, and that all this way, or the most of it, was over a heath, it was no great wonder; for I fared like one that had escaped the stocks, and tried the use of his legs to outrun the constable: so light was my heels, that I counted the ten mile no better than a leap.

At my entrance into Thetford the people came in great numbers to see me; for there were many there, being Size [12] time. The noble gentleman, Sir Edwin Rich [13], gave me entertainment in such bountiful and liberal sort, during my continuance there Saturday and Sunday, that I want [lack] fit words to express the least part of his worthy usage of my unworthiness; and to conclude liberally as he had begun and continued, at my departure on Monday his worship gave me five pounds.

The eighth day’s journey, being Monday of the fourth week.

On Monday morning I danced to Rockland ere I rested, and coming to my inn, where the host was a very boon companion, I desired to see him; but in no case would he be spoken with til he had shifted himself from his working-day’s suit. Being armed at all points, from the cap to the codpiece, his black shoes shining and made straight with copper buckles of the best, his garters in the fashion, and every garment fitting corremsquandom (to use his own word), he enters the hall, with his bonnet in his hand, began to cry out: “O Kemp, dear Master Kemp! you are even as welcome as—as—as—,” and so stammering he began to study for a fit comparison, and I thank him, at last he fitted me; for sayeth he, “Thou art even as welcome as the Queen’s best greyhound.”

After this dogged yet well-meaning salutation, the carouses were called in; and my friendly Host of Rockland began withall this, blessing the hour upon his knees, that any of the Queen’s Majesty’s well-willers or friends would vouchsafe to come within his house, as if never any such had been within his doors before. I took his good meaning, and gave him great thanks for his kindness; and having rested me well, began to take my course for Hingham, whether my honest Host of Rockland would needs be my guide: but, good true fat-belly, he had not followed me two fields, but he lies all along, and cries after me to come back and speak with him. I fulfilled his request: and coming to him, “Dancer,” quoth he, “if thou dance a’ God’s name, God speed thee! I cannot follow thee a foot further; but adieu, good dancer; God speed thee, if thou dance a’ God’s name!”

I, having haste of my way, and he being able to keep no way, there we parted. Farewell he: he was a kind good fellow, a true Troyan; and [if] ever be my luck to meet him at more leisure, I’ll make him full amends with a cupfull of Canary. But now I am a little better advised, we must not thus let my mad host pass; for my friend, late mentioned before, that made the odd rhyme on my Maid Marian, would needs remember my Host. Such as it is, I’ll bluntly set down.

He was a man not over spare;
In his eyeballs dwelt no care.
“Anon, anon,” and “Welcome [coming], friend,”
Were the most words he used to spend,
Save sometimes he would sit and tell
What wonders once in Bullayne [14] fell,
Closing each period of his tale
With a full cup of nut-brown ale.
Turwin and Turneys [15] seige were hot,
Yet all my Host remembers not:
Ket’s field [16] and Muscleborough fray [17]
Were battles fought but yesterday.
“O, ‘twas a goodly matter then
To see your sword and buckler men!
They would lie here, and here and there,
But I would meet them everywhere:
And now a man is but a pricke;
A boy, armed with a poking-stick [18]
Will dare to challenge Cutting Dick [19]
O ‘tis a world the world to see![20]
But ‘twill not mend for thee nor me.”
By this some guest cries “Ho, the house!”
A fresh friend hath a fresh carouse:
Still he will drink, and still be dry,
And quaff with every company.
Saint Martin send him merry mates,
To enter at his hostree gates!
For a blither lad than he
Cannot an innkeeper be.

Well, once again farewell mine Host of Rockland. After all these farewells, I am sure to Hingham I found a foul way, as before I had done from Thetford to Rockland. Yet, besides the deep way, I was much hindered by the desire people had to see me. For even as our shop-keepers will hail and pull a man with “Lack ye? what do you lack, gentlemen?” “My ware is best,” cries one, “Mine [the] best in England,” says another, “Here shall you have choice,” says the third; so was the diverse voices of the young men and maidens, which I should meet at every mile’s end, thronging by twenty, and sometime forty, yea, hundreds in a company; one crying the fairest way was through their village, another, “This is the nearest and fairest way, when you have passed but a mile and a half”; another sort cry “Turn on the left hand,” some “On the right hand”; that I was so amazed I knew not sometime which way I might best take; but haphazard, the people still accompanying me, wherewith I was much comforted, though the ways were bad; but as I said before, at last I overtook it.

The ninth day’s journey, being Wednesday of the second [fourth] week.

The next morning I left Hingham, not staying til I came to Barford Bridge, five young men running all the way with me for otherwise my pace was not for footmen. From Barford Bridge I danced to Norwich; but coming within sight of the city, perceiving so great a multitude and throng of people still crowding more and more about me, mistrusting it would be a let [hindrance] to my determined expedition and pleasurable humor, which I long before conceived to delight this city with (so far as my best skill and industry of my long travelled sinews could afford them), I was advised, and so took ease by that advice, to stay my Morris a little above Saint Gile’s Gate, where I took my gelding, and so rode into the city, procrastinating my merry Morris dance through the city til better opportunity.

Being come into the city, Master Roger Weld [21] the Mayor, and sundry other of his worshipful brethren, sent for me; who perceiving how I intended not to dance into the city that night, and being well satisfied with the reasons, they allotted me time enough not to dance til Saturday after; to the end that diverse knights and gentlemen, together with their wives and children (who had been many days before deceived with expectation of my coming), might now have sufficient warning accordingly by Saturday following. In the meanspace [meantime], and during my still continuance in the city afterwards, they not only very courteously offered to bear mine own charges and my followers, but very bountifully performed it at the common charges: the Mayor and many of the aldermen oftentimes besides invited us privately to their several houses.

To make a short end of this tedious description of my entertainment; Saturday no sooner came but I returned without the city through Saint Giles’ his Gate, and began my Morris where I left at that gate, but I entered in at Saint Stephen’s Gate, where one Thomas Gilbert in name of all the rest of the citizens gave me a friendly and exceeding kind welcome; which I have no reason to omit, unless I would condemn myself of ingratitude, partly for the private affection of the writer towards me, as also for the general love and favor I found in them from the highest to the lowest, the richest as the poorest. It follows in these few lines:

Master Kemp his Welcome to Norwich

W       With heart, and hand, among the rest,
E       Especially you welcome are:
L       Long looked for as welcome guest,
C       Come now at last you be from far.
O       Of most within the city, sure,
M      Many good wishes you have had;
E       Each one did pray you might endure,

W      With courage good the match you made.
I        Intend they did with gladsome hearts,
L       Like your well-willers, you to meet:

K       Know you also they’ll do their parts,

E       Either in field or house to greet
M      More you than any with you came,
P       Procur’d thereto with trump and fame.

Your Well-willer,

T[homas]. G[ilbert].

Passing through the gate, wifflers (such officers as were appointed by the Mayor to make me way [a path] through the throng of the people which pressed so mightily upon me. With great labor I got through that narrow preaze [press of people] into the open market place; where on the cross [at the intersection], ready prepared, stood the City Waits, [22] which not a little refreshed my weariness with toiling through so narrow a lane as the people left me; such Waits (under Benedicite [23] be it spoken) few cities in our realm have the like, none better; who, besides their excellency in wind instruments, their rare cunning on the viol and violin, their voices be admirable, every one of them able to serve in any cathedral church in Christendom for choristers.

Passing by the market place, the press still increasing by the number of boys, girls, men and women, thronging more and more before me to see the end; it was the mischance of a homely [domestic] maid, that, belike, was but newly crept into the fashion of long-waisted petticoats tied with points, and had, as it seemed, but one point tied before, and coming unluckily in my way, as I was fetching a leap, it fell out that I set my foot on her skirts: the point either breaking or stretching, off fell her petticoat from her waist, but as chance was, though her smock [undergarment] were coarse, it was cleanly; yet the poor wench was so ashamed, the rather for that she could hardly recover her [petti]coat again from unruly boys, that looking before like one that had the green sickness, now had she her cheeks all colored with scarlet. I was sorry for her, but on I went towards the Mayor’s, and deceived the people by leaping over the church yard wall at St. John’s, getting so into Master Mayor’s gates a nearer way; but at last I found it the further way about, being forced on the Tuesday following to renew my former dance, because George Sprat, my overseer, having lost me in the throng, would not be deposed that I had danced it, since he saw me not; and I must confess I did not well, for the citizens had caused all the turnpikes to be taken up on Saturday that I might not be hindered. But now I return again to my Jump, the measure of which is to be seen in the Guildhall at Norwich, where my buskins, that I then wore and danced in from London thither, stand equally divided, nailed on the wall.

The plenty of good cheer at the Mayor’s, his bounty and kind usage, together with the general welcomes of his worshipful brethren, and many other knights, ladies, gentlemen and gentlewomen, so much exceeded my expectation, as I adjudged myself most bound to them all. The Mayor gave me five pounds in Elizabeth angels [gold coins]; which Mayor (fair Madam, to whom I too presumptuously dedicate my idle paces) as [is] a man worthy of a singular and impartial admiration, if our critic humorous minds could as prodigally conceive as he deserves, for his chaste life, liberality, and temperance in possessing worldly benefits. He lives unmarried, and childless; never purchased house nor land, the house he dwells in this year being but hired: he lives upon merchandise, being a Merchant Venturer [24] our merchants and gentlemen would take example by this man, gentlemen would not sell their lands to become bankrupt merchants, nor merchants [who] live in the possession of youth-beguiled gentlemen, who cast themselves out of their parents’ heritages for a few outcast commodities [25] But, wit, whither wilt thou? What hath Morris-Tripping-Will to do with that? It keeps not time with his dance; therefore room, you moral precepts, give my legs leave to end my Morris, or, that being ended, my hands leave to perfect this worthless poor tottered [tattered] volume.

Pardon, me Madam, that I am thus tedious; I cannot choose but commend sacred liberality, which makes poor wretches partakers of all comfortable benefits: besides the love and favor already repeated, Master Weld the Mayor gave me 40s. yearly during my life, making me a free man of the Merchant Venturers. This is the substance of all my journey; therefore let no man believe, how ever before by lying ballads and rumors I have been abused, that either ways were laid open for me, or that I delivered gifts to her Majesty. It’s good being merry, my masters, but in a mean [lowly key], and all my mirths (mean though they be), have been and ever shall be employed to the delight of my royal Mistress; whose sacred name ought not to be remembered among such ribald rhymes as the late thin-breeched lying ballad-singers have proclaimed it.

It resteth now that in a word I show what profit I have made by my Morris. True it is I put out some money to have threefold gain at my return [i.e., accepted bets of three to one]; some that love me, regard my pains, and respect their promise, [and] have sent home the treble worth; some other at the first sight have paid me, if I came to seek them; others I cannot see, nor will they willingly be found, and these are the greater number. If they had all used me well, or all ill, I would have boldly set down the true sum of my small gain or loss; but I will have patience, some few days longer: at the end of which time, if any be behind, I will draw a catalogue of all their names I ventured with; those that have shown themselves honest men, I will set before them this character, H, for honesty; before the other bench-whistlers [26] shall stand K for ketlers [sharpers] and keistrels, [27] that will drive a good companion without need in them to contend for his own; but I hope I shall have no such need. If I have, your honorable protection shall thus far defend your poor servant, that he may, being a plain man, call a spade a spade. Thus fearing your Ladyship is wearier with reading this toy than I was in all my merry travel, I crave pardon; and conclude this first pamphlet that ever Will Kemp offered to the press, being thereunto pressed on the one side by the pitiful papers, pasted on every post, of that which was neither so nor so, and on the other side urged thereto in duty to express with thankfulness the kind entertainment I found.

Your honor’s poor servant,

  1. K.

Kemp’s humble request to the impudent generation of ballad-makers and their coherents; that it would please their rascalities to pity his pains in the great journey he pretends [intends], and not fill the country with lies of his never-done acts, as they did his late Morris to Norwich. To the Tune of Thomas Deloney’s Epitaph [28]

My notable Shakerags, [29] the effect of my suit is discovered in the title of my supplication; but for your witless beetle-heads that can understand nothing but what is knocked into your scalps, these are by these presents to certify unto your block-headships, that I, William Kemp, whom you near hand-rent in sunder with your unreasonable rhymes, am shortly, God willing, to set forward as merrily as I may; whither I myself know not. Wherefore, by the way, I would wish ye, employ not your little wits in certifying the world that I am gone to Rome, Jerusalem, Venice, or any other place at your idle appoint. I know the best of ye, by the lies ye writ of me, got not the price of a good hat to cover your brainless heads: if any of ye had come to me, my bounty should have exceeded the best of your good masters the ballad-buyers; I would have aparrelled your dirty pates in party-colored bonnets, and bestowed a leash of my cast[-off] bells to have crowned ye with coxcombs.

I have made a privy search what private jigmonger of your jolly number hath been the author of these abominable ballads written of me. I was told it was the great ballad-maker T. D., alias Thomas Deloney, chronicler of the memorable lines of The Six Yeomen of the West, Jack of Newbury, The Gentle Craft, and such like honest men, omitted by Stow, Holinshed, Grafton, Hall, Froissart, [30] and the rest of those well-deserving writers; but I was given since to understand your late General Thomas died poorly, as ye all must do, and was honestly buried, which is much to be doubted of some of you. The quest of inquiry finding him by death acquitted of the indictment, I was led to wit that another Lord-of-Little-Wit, one whose employment for the [City] Pageant was utterly spent, he being known to be Elderton’s immediate heir [31] was vehemently suspected; but after due inquisition was made, he was at that time known to live like a man in a mist, having quite given over to mistery.

Still the search continuing, I met a proper upright youth, only for a little stooping in the shoulders, all heart to the heel, a penny-poet, whose first making [poetical composition] was the miserable stolen story of Macdoel, or Macdobeth, or Macsomewhat, [32] for I am sure a Mac it was, though I never had the maw [stomach] to see it; and he told me there was a fat, filthy ballad-maker, that should have once been his journeyman to the trade, who lived about the town, and ten to one but he had thus terribly abused me and my taborer, for that he was able to do such a thing in print. A shrewd presumption! I found him about the bankside [33] sitting at a play; I desired to speak with him, and had him to a tavern, charged a pipe [i.e., for him] with tobacco, and then laid this terrible accusation to his charge. He swells presently, like one of the four winds; the violence of his breath blew the tobacco out of the pipe, and the heat of his wrath drunk dry two bowls of Rhenish wine. At length having power to speak, “Name my accuser,” saith he, “or I defy thee, Kemp, at the quart staff [weapon of combat].” I told him; and all his anger turned to laughter, swearing it did him good to have ill words of a hoddy-doddy, [34] a chicken, a habber-de-hoy [35] a squib, a squall, one that hath not wit enough to make a ballad, that, by Pol and Aedipol [?junior and senior], would Pol his father, Derick [36] his dad, do anything, how ill soever, to please his apish humor. I hardly [unfavorably] believed this youth that I took to be gracious had been so graceless; but I heard afterwards his mother-in-law was eye and ear witness of his father’s abuse by this blessed child on a public stage, in a merry host of an inn’s part.

Yet all this while could not I find out the true ballad-maker, til by chance a friend of mine pulled out of his pocket a book in Latin, called Mundus Furiosus, printed at Cullen [Cologne], written by one of the vilest and arrantest lying cullians [scoundrels] that ever writ book, his name Jansonius, who, taking upon him to write an abstract of all the turbulent actions that had lately attempted or performed in Christendom, like an unchristian wretch, writes only by report, partially, and scoffingly of such whose page’s shoes he was not worthy to wipe, for indeed he is now dead: farewell he! Every dog must have a day. But see the luck on it: this beggarly lying busy-body’s name brought out the ballad-maker, [37] and it was generally confirmed, it was his kinsman: he confesses himself guilty, let any man look on his face; if there not be so red a color that all the soap in the town will not wash white, let me be turned into a whiting [fish] as I pass between Dover and Calais.

Well, God forgive thee, honest fellow, I see thou hast grace in ballads; make not good wenches prophetesses, for little or no profit, nor for a six-penny matter revive not a poor fellow’s fault that’s hanged for his offence; it may be thy own destiny one day; prithee be good to them. Call up thy old Melpomene, whose strawberry quill may write the bloody lines of the Blue Lady, and the Prince of the Burning Crown, a better subject, I can tell ye, than your Knight of the Red Cross. So farewell, and cross me no more, I prithee, with thy rabble of bald rhymes, lest at my return I set a cross on thy forehead that all men may know thee for a fool.

William Kemp.



  1. A tune played to rouse the sportsmen in the morning.—Dyce.
  2. A relation, possibly, of the actor William Sly.
  3. One who can make you laugh until tears run down your face.
  4. Excelling at sing-song.
  5. A great spoon in Ilford, holding about a quart.—Dyce, a marginal note in old edition.”
  6. Didapper—a small diving bird.
  7. Scurvy fellows—a play on words.
  8. He married the only daughter, by his second wife, of Henry Ratcliffe, Lord Fitzwalter and Earl of Essex; from which marriage his descendants derived their title and claim to the Barony of Fitzwalter.—Dyce
  9. This “marchandize” was instead of a money desposit.—Dyce. But we learn from a passage near the end of the tract that he had also put up cash.
  10. The handkerchiefs, or napkins, as they were sometimes called, were held in the hand, or tied to the shoulders.—Dyce
  11. Sir John Popham, appointed Chief Justice of the King’s Bench in 1592.—Dyce
  12. Assize time—court sessions held at various periods during the year.
  13. Third son of Robert Lord Rich, was knighted at Cadiz in 1596.—Dyce
  14. The seige of Bologne, Sept. 14, 1544; it surrendered to Henry VIII who entered in triumph on the 18th of the month.—Dyce
  15. After the battle of the Spurs, August 16, 1513, Terouenne surrendered to Henry VIII on the 22nd, and on the 27th its defences were razed to the ground: Tournay surrendered on the 29th of September.—Dyce
  16. The battle near Norwich, August 27th, 1549, when the Earl of Warwick routed Robert Ket and the Norfolk rebels.
  17. The battle of Pinkey, in which the Protector Somerset defeated the Scots with great slaughter, September 10, 1547.—Dyce
  18. An instrument for setting the plaits on ruffs. They were originally made of wood or bone, afterwards steel, that they might be used hot.—Dyce
  19. Notorious London underworld figure who was eventually hanged at Tyburn. The decadent playwright Robert Greene had a son, Fortunatus, by his sister.
  20. Equivalent to ‘it is a wonder’.
  21. Dyce corrects an error: Kemp has “Roger Wiler.”
  22. The band of musicians employed by the City to play at entertainments.
  23. The invocation of a blessing.
  24. The Merchant Adventurers was a London fellowship specializing in overseas investment.
  25. Goods, in which needy prodigals took the sum they wanted to borrow, and for which they gave a bond: these commodities (sometimes only brown paper!) they were to turn into cash.—Dyce
  26. Drunks snoozing on tavern benches.
  27. Hawks of a worthless and degenerate breed.—Dyce
  28. Thomas Deloney succeeded Elderton as the most popular ballad-writer of the time; he was also celebrated among the vulgar for his prose romances.—Dyce
  29. Ballad-mongers touting their wares; not a reference to Shakespeare.
  30. All of these men wrote histories of England.
  31. Anthony Munday. During his eighty years he figured as player, apprentice to Allde the printer, retainer of the Earl of Oxford, Messenger to Her Majesty’s Chamber, Poet to the City, dramatist, writer in verse and prose, and draper.—Dyce
  32. Not to be confused with Shakespeare’s play.
  33. In Southwark, Surrey, where the theatres were situated.
  34. Term of contempt.
  35. Half a man and half a boy.—Dyce
  36. Name for the hangman.—Dyce
  37. ?Richard Johnson, author of the Famous History of the Seven Champions of Christendom.—Dyce