Entries referring to the author William Baldwin, from The History of English Dramatic Poetry (1831) Vols 1 to 3, by John Payne Collier, London: John Murray, Albemarle Street; Vol 1, pp.149-156, with additional notes & corrections pp.xx-xxi.

[ The body of the text of the 1831 edition by John Collier does not identify William Baldwin with the writing of Beware the Cat. However, in his undated additional notes & corrections, placed at the beginning of the work, Collier relates the initials 'G.B.' to the name 'Gulielmus Baldwin'.]

From the third chapter entitled   'Annals of the Stage, during the reigns of Edward VI. and Mary '.

p.149 /

      The entertainments at Court, consisting of Tournaments, Masks and Plays, were revived with unusual splendor at Christmas, 1551-2. At this date the Duke of Somerset, the King's Uncle, was awaiting execution in the Tower, the sentence against him being carried into effect by his decapitation, on the 22d January. Holinshed thus speaks of the festivities at Greenwich during the Christmas which preceded that event.
      ‘ Wherefore, as well to remoove fond talk out of mens mouths, as also to recreat and refresh the troubled spirits of the yoong king, who (as saith Grafton) seemed to take the trouble of his Uncle somewhat heavilie, it was devised that the feast of Christs nativitie, commonlie called Christmasse, then at hand, should be solemnlie kept at Greenwich, with open houshold and franke resort to court, (which is called keeping of the hall) what time, of old ordinarie course, there is alwaies one appointed to make sporte in the Court, called commonly lord of misrule : whose office is not unknowne to such as have been brought up in noble mens houses, & among great housekeepers which use liberall feasting in that season. There was, therefore, by order of the Councill, a wise gentleman and learned, named George Ferrers, appointed to that office for this yeare, who being of better credit & estimation than commonlie his predecessors had been before, received all his commissions and warrants by the name of the maister of the kings pastimes. Which gentleman so p.150 / well supplied his office, both in shew of sundrie sights, and devises of rare inventions, and in act of diverse interludes, and matters of pastime, plaied by persons, as not onelie satisfied the common sort, but also were very well liked and allowed by the Councill, and other of skill in the like pastimes ; but best of all by the yoong king himselfe, as appered by his princelie liberalitie in rewarding that service *.’

  Holinshed, Chron. p. 1067, edit. 1587. Cotton. MS. Vitellius, F. V. is a very curious chronicle of events public and private, in the reigns of Edw. VI., Mary, and the three first years of Elizabeth. The writer was an ignorant man, but he had relations at court, and he speaks of his ‘ gossip Harper servand unto the Queens grace.’   The MS. has been greatly damaged by fire, and it is not possible always to ascertain the precise dates referred to, as the leaves are not paged, and they have been here and there confused. To the occasion referred to in the text, we may assign the following minute description of the entrance of the King's Lord of Misrule into London, where he was received by the Lord of Misrule of one of the Sheriffs.—The asterisks denote places where the MS. is incomplete in consequence of the fire.
      ‘ The 4 day of January, affor non, landyd at the Tower warff the Kyngs Lord of Mysrull & ther met hym the Sheryffs Lord of Misrule with ys [his] men, and every on havyng a rebyn * * and whytt abowt ther nekes, & then ye trumpets, mores dansse and tabrett, & he toke a swaerd and bare yt afore the Kyngs Lord of Mysrull, for the lord was gorgyously arrayed in purpull welvet, furyd with armyn, & ys robe brodered with spangulls of selver full, and abowt ym syngers and a for hym on grett horsses and in cotts & clokes of * * * inbrodered with gold and with balderyks * * * whytt and blue sarsenett * * * of his servands in blew, gardyd with whytt ; & next after ys consell in blew taffata, and ther capes of whytt, & ys trumpeters taburs drummers & fluts, & ys mores dansse, gunes, mores pykes, bagpypes and ys masks * * * & his gaylleys with pelere stokes, & ys axe, gyffes, & bolts, * * * sum fast by the legs & sum by the nekes, & so rod thrughe
p.151  / ‘ Marke lane & so thrugh Grasyus strett and Cornhill * * * * trumpets blohyng makyng a proclamacion * * * and so the Kyngs lord was cared from * * skaffold ; & after the Sheryffs lord and the Kyngs * * * the Sheryffs lord a gowne with gold & sylver & * * after he knelyd downe, & he toke a sword and gayff * * strokes & mad ym knyght ; & after they draw * * upon a skaffold & ys cofferers cast * * gold & sylver in every plase as they rod * * * after ys carege with his cloth saykes on horse back * * abowt chepe with ys gayllers and ys presonars * * & the two lords toke ther horsys & rod unto * * mare to dener : & after he cam bake thrugh * * to the crosse & so done Wod-strett unto the Sheryffs * * more alf a nore, & so forthe the old Jury & * * unto my lord tresorers plasse, & ther they had * * banket the spasse of alf a nore ; & so don to byshopgatt, & to ledenhall, & thrugh fanchyrche strett, & so to the towre warffe ; & the sheryffs lord gohyn with hym with torche lyght, & ther the Kyngs lord toke ys pynnes with a grett shott of gonnes, & so the sheryffs lord toke ys leyff of ym, & cam home merele with his mores danse daunsyng, & so forth.’

p.151 /

      George Ferrers, who was thus chosen ‘ Master of the King's Pastimes,’ (discharging in fact the functions of Lord of Misrule under a new title,) was, as Warton states, ‘ a lawyer, poet, and historian *,’ and well qualified to give new spirit and importance to the royal revels over which he was appointed to preside. He had been selected for this purpose in November preceding, and on the 30th of that month, a warrant was issued for the advance of 100l. to him ‘ towards the necessary charges of his appointment †.’

  Hist. Eng. Poet., iii. 208, edit. 8vo.
    †   This fact appears by the register of the Privy Council, as cited by Mr. Chalmers in his Apology for the Believers, p. 347.

What was the total expense upon this occasion, we have no means of knowing ; but, a document in the British p.152 / Museum, containing a statement of the debts of Edward VI., ‘ externe and within the realme,’ represents, that in 1551, he owed 1000l. to the office of the Revells under Sir Thomas Cawarden*.
      A tract, entitled, ‘ Beware the Cat,’ bearing the initials G. B. as its author, and first printed (according to Ritson, Bibl. Poet, p.118) in 1561, and (according to Herbert, Ames, p. 1238) again, in 1584, contains some singular and hitherto unpublished particulars regarding the drama in the reign of Edward VI., and while George Ferrers was ‘ Master of the King's Pastimes.’ It is inserted in what is termed the introduction, or ‘ argument,’ of the work ; and it not only affords a curious picture of the manners of the time, but mentions a play called Æsop's Crow, performed by the King's players at court, in which most of the actors were dressed as birds. It seems that the author of ‘ Beware the Cat,’ whoever he might be, had contributed to the ‘ devising’ of certain interludes for the King's recreation. The following is all that relates to our purpose †.

  In 4 and 5 Edward VI., the King's players exhibited at court, and received the customary reward. Garments were provided for them, as well as for the young lords, and 12d. is charged in the account for painting the coat of Will. Somers, the King's fool. Archæologia, vol. xviii
    †   I transcribe it from a fragment of the tract (apparently of the edition of 1584), with which I was favoured by Mr. Douce. The only perfect copy I have heard of was in the hands of Herbert : it subsequently belonged to Steevens, and from Steevens it came into the possession of the Duke of Roxburghe : at the sale of the Duke of Roxburghe's books, it was bought by Mr. Heber, and is, of course, now inaccessible.

p.153 /

      ‘ It chaunced that at Christemas last I was at Court with Maister Ferrers, then Maister of the Kings Majesties Pastimes, about setting foorth of sertain Interludes, which for the King's recreation we had devised, and were in learning. In which time, among many other exercises among our selves, we used nightly at our lodging to talke of sundry things for the furtherance of such offices, wherein eche man as then served ; for which purpose it pleased Maister Ferrers to make me his bedfellowe, and upon a pallet cast upon the rushes in his owne Chamber, to lodge Maister Willot and Maister Stremer, the one his Astronomer, the other his Divine. And among many other things, to long to rehearce, it hapned on a night (which I think was the 28 of December) after that M. Ferrers was come from the Court, and in bed, there fel a controversie between Maister Streamer (who with Maister Willot had already slept their first sleep) and mee, that was newly come unto bed ; the effect wherof was, whether Birds and Beasts had reason ?   the occasion therof was this. I had heard, that the King's Players were learning a play of Esop's Crowe, wherin the moste part of the actors were birds, the devise wherof I discommended, saying it was not comicall to make either speechlesse things to speake, or brutish things to common reasonably. And although in a tale it be sufferable to immagin and tel of some thing by them spoken, or reasonably doon (which kinde Esope lawdably used), yet it was uncomely (said I), and without example p.154 / of any authour, to bring them in, lively parsonages, to speake, doo, reason, and allege authorites out of authours. M. Stremer, my Lorde's Divine, beeing more divine in this point then I was ware of, held the contrary parte, afferming, that beasts and foules have reason, and that asmuch as men, yea, and in some points more. M. Ferrers himself, and his Astronomer, waked with our talk, and harkned to us, but would take parte on neither side.’
      The triumphs, jousts, and masks at Christmas, 1552-3, cost 717l. 10s. 9½d., as we learn from the accounts furnished from the Office of the Revels*. It is not stated who was Lord of Misrule (for by that title he is again called) on this occasion ; but he undertook the part of the God of War in the Triumph of Mars and Venus, his dress costing 51l. 17s. 4d. On new year's-day he had a different suit, valued at 34l. 14s. He was attended by Counsellors, Pages, Ushers, Heralds, an Orator, an Interpreter, an Irishman, an Irishwoman, Juglers, &c., besides his six sons (three of them base born), the eldest of whom was apparelled in ‘ a long fool's coat of yellow cloth of gold, all over figured with velvet, white, red, and green, a hood, buskins and girdle.’ Coats were also provided for seven other fools, and the whole cost of dresses was 262l. 1s. 4d.
      Among the Harleian MSS.† is a detailed account

  Preserved at Losely, near Guildford, extracts from which are to be found in Archæologia, vol. xviii.
    †   No. 284.

p.155 /

of the expense of a tournament and banquet given by the King in 1552, in Hyde Park, for which purpose no less than ninety-four ‘ houses or tents’ were carried from Blackfriars, where they were kept. The total charge was 933l. 6s., of which 62l. 19s. 4d. was for ‘ Masks and garments,’ but no dramatic performances are specifically noticed *.
      During the reign of Edward VI. the Princess Elizabeth had plays performed before her, and charges of 1l. 10s. to Heywood, and of 4l. 19s. to Sebastian [Westcott ?] for a play by ‘ the children,’ are found in the account of the expenses of her household, kept by Thomas Parry, her cofferer. She also gave 10s. to a person of the name of Beamonde, for a play represented by certain boys under his management. The dates of these payments, or indeed of the account itself, of which they form a part, have not been precisely ascertained †.

  Mr. Chalmers (Apology, 477) expresses an opinion, that the annual charge for revels, during the reign of Edward VI., was about 325l.; but he judges only from the sum paid every Christmas to Sir T. Cawarden, which included only the expense of the court amusements at that particular season.
    †   Nichols, Progr. Eliz. I. viii. edit. 1823.

      The last piece of documentary evidence, connected with the stage and belonging to this reign, is a letter from the Privy Council to Sir T. Cawarden, dated 28th of January, 1552-3, directing him, as Master of the Revels, to furnish William Baldwin (one of the original projectors of ‘ the Mirror for Magistrates’) with all necessaries for setting forth a play before the p.156 / King to be performed on Candlemas night *. We are without any particulars of the entertainments on that occasion ; but, in the Council Registers it is stated, that 326l. were paid to Sir Thomas Cawarden for the charges of the Lord of Misrule at Christmas.

  Chalmers' Apology for the Believers, &c., p. 348.

— — — [This is the end of this extract.] — — —

From Additional notes and corrections, pp xvii-xxxii.

p.xx /

p. 152.
      ‘ A tract, entitled Beware the Cat, bearing the initials G. B. as its author.’] Those initials probably mean Gulielmus Baldwin;   but it seems that the tract had been imputed to ‘ Maister Stremer,’ who is mentioned in it. In one of the volumes of Proclamations, &c., belonging to the Society of Antiquaries, London, is a curious broadside in verse, headed ‘ A short Answere to the Boke called Beware the Cat,’ which opens thus :—

‘ To the jentil reder harti salutacions,
‘ Desiring thee to knoe Baldwins straunge faschions ;
‘ And if in aunsering I appere sum what quick,
‘ Thinke it not without cause : his taunts be rive and thick.
p.xxi /
‘ Where as there is a boke called beware the cat,
‘ The veri truith is so, that Stremer made not that,
‘ Nor no suche false fabels fell ever from his pen,
‘ Nor from his hart or mouth, as knoe mani honest men.
‘ But wil ye gladli knoe, who made that boke in dede ?
‘ One Wylliam Baldewine. God graunt him wel to spede.’

      It proceeds in this strain throughout, and heaps upon Baldwin the coarsest terms of abuse, denying that Beware the Cat was written by Stremer, though how it came to be imputed to him nowhere appears. It ends (without printer's name or date) as follows :
‘ This miche I have writen that the trueth shold be knowen,
‘ And that the falsite shuld be quite overthrowen.