On this day in 1594, Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, wrote to the Lord Mayor of London:
“Where my now company of players have been accustomed … for the service of her majesty [Elizabeth I] … to play this winter time at the Cross Keys in Gracious [Gracechurch] Street; these are to require and pray your lordship (the time being such as, thanks be to God, there is now no danger of the sickness [plague]) to permit and suffer them to do so. The which I pray you rather to do for that they have undertaken to me that, where heretofore they began not their plays till towards four o’clock, they will now begin at two and have done between four and five and will not use any drums or trumpets at all for the calling of people together and shall be contributories to the poor of the parish where they play, according to their abilities”.
Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon (1526-96) was a nobleman, a courtier to his cousin, Elizabeth I, and a politician as well as a patron of Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. He was the son of Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary, and it has been speculated that he was fathered by Henry VIII.