“Ye should do very well to inhibit all plays” (Edmund Grindal, 1564)


On this day in 1564, Edmund Grindal (then Bishop of London and later  Archbishop of Canterbury) wrote in a letter to William Cecil, the  First Baron  Burghley or Burleigh (a statesman and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I through much of her reign):

 “Mr Calfhill this morning showed me your letter to him, wherein ye wish some politic orders to be devised against infection.  I think it very necessary … .  By search I do perceive that there is no one thing … more like to have renewed this contagion than the practice of an idle sort of people which have been infamous in all commonweals: I mean these histriones, common players, who now daily, but specifically on holidays, set up bills, whereunto the youth resorteth excessively and there taketh infection: besides that God’s word by their impure mouths is profaned … .  For remedy whereof in my judgement, ye should do very well to … inhibit all plays for one whole year (and if it were for ever, it were not amiss) within the City or three miles’ compass, upon pains as well to the players as to the owners of the houses where they play their lewd interludes”.


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