Open main menu

Deloney, Thomas (DNB00)


DELONEY, THOMAS (1543?–1600?), ballad writer and pamphleteer, was probably born in London about 1543. He was a silk weaver by trade. His ballads came into favour in 1585, near the close of Elderton's career, and he became his avowed successor [see Elderton, William]. The earliest dated work ascribed to him is a translation from the Latin of ‘A Declaration made by the Archbishop of Collen [i.e. Cologne] upon the Deede of his Mariage,’ &c. Another sheet, preserved at Lambeth, is ‘The Proclamation and Edict of [Gebhardt, Truchsess von Waldburg] Archbishop and Elector of Culleyn, Declarynge his … intention to bring in the free exercise of the preaching of the Gospel, imprinted at London, &c. 18 of March 1583’ (1584). His indisputable work begins in 1586 with ‘A proper newe Sonet declaring the lamentation of Beckles in Suffolke, burnt by fire on S. Andrewe's eve last past’ (broadside, in Huth Collection).

In the same year Richard Jones, who had issued the proclamation, published Deloney's ‘Most joyful Song … at the taking of the late trayterous Conspirators … fourteen of them have suffered death on the 20 and 21 of September.’ This is at the Society of Antiquaries. Another on the same subject, also by Deloney, is in the Earl of Crawford's library. In the registers of St. Giles, Cripplegate, is an entry, a month later, showing that Richard Deloney, son of Thomas, was christened there on 16 Oct. 1586. His jocular ballads, written in the next ten years, have perished. Some ballads upon murders have been preserved, such as ‘The Lamentation of Page's Wife of Plymouth,’ and ‘The Lamentation of George Strangwidge,’ both of 1591 (various editions, reprinted by J. P. Collier and Ballad Society). In August 1588 he published three important broadsides: ‘The Happy obtaining of the Great Galleazo;’ ‘The Strange and Cruel Whips which the Spaniards had prepared;’ and ‘The Queen's Visiting the Camp at Tilsburie’ (sic). He afterwards wrote many ballads which were long popular, such as ‘The Kentishmen with Long Tales,’ ‘The Drowning of Henry I's Children,’ ‘The Dutchess of Suffolk's Calamity,’ ‘Henry II Crowning his Son King,’ and other historical ballads, collected, with a few others, in his book of ‘Strange Histories’ before 1607, the earliest issue known (reprinted in 1841). ‘The Royal Garland of Love and Delight’ and the ‘Garland of Delight’ are simply the ‘Strange Histories’ reissued under new titles. Of his collection, ‘The Garland of Good Will,’ a fragment of the 1604 edition is the earliest portion extant. The later title-page declares it to be ‘written by T. D.’ Some ballads in the third part were certainly by other hands, such as ‘The Spanish Lady's Love’ and ‘The Winning of Cales’ (Cadiz). J. H. Dixon believed him to have been author of the ‘Blind Beggar of Bednall Green,’ also the prose account, ‘The Pleasant and Sweet History of Patient Grissel,’ printed by John Wright, which includes the usual ballad version belonging to the ‘Garland of Good Will.’ Deloney also wrote three prose books which went through many editions before 1600, viz. ‘The Gentle Craft,’ a work in praise of shoemakers, with three illustrative stories, registered 19 Oct. 1597; ‘The Pleasant History of John Winchcomb, in his younger days called Jack of Newbery, the famous and worthy Clothier of England,’ of which the eighth edition appeared in 1619; ‘Thomas of Reading, or the six worthy Yeomen of the West,’ of which no edition earlier than 1612 remains. He won praise from Michael Drayton [q. v.], who alludes to his rhyme as ‘full of state and pleasing.’ He came under the notice of Gabriel Harvey, in ‘Pierce's Supererogation,’ 1593. Thomas Nash, in his ‘Haue with you to Saffron-Walden,’ 1596, says: ‘Thomas Deloney, the balleting silke-weauer of Norwich, hath rime inough for all myracles, and wit to make a “Garland of Good Will” more than the premisses, with an epistle of “Momus” and “Zoylus;” whereas his Muse from the first peeping foorth, hath stood at liuery at an ale-house wispe, neuer exceeding a penny a quart day nor night, and this deare yeare, together with the silencing of his loombes, scarce that; he being strained to betake him to carded ale; whence it proceedeth that since Candlemas, or his Iigge of “John for the King,” not one merrie dittie will come from him, but “The Thunderbolt against Swearers,” “Repent, England, Repent.”’ In 1596 one of Deloney's ballads on the scarcity of corn was complained against to the lord mayor. He had shortly before 1600 written ballads on Kempe's ‘Morris Dance to Norwich,’ where Deloney is reported to have made his first poetical venture twenty years earlier. The exact date of his death is not known, but it was probably in 1600.

[J. P. Collier's English Dramatic Poetry, 2nd ed., 1879, ii. 480, iii. 415; his Bibliographical Catalogue, 1865, pp. 212–17; his Broadside Black-letter Ballads, privately printed, 1868, pp. 36–41, 91, 127; Huth's Ancient Ballads and Broadsides (Philobiblon Society edit.), 1867, xlvii. 123; Works of Thomas Nashe, ed. Grosart, iii. 123; Works of Gabriel Harvey, ed. Grosart, vol. ii.; Ballad Society Roxburghe Ballads, vol. vi. pts. xvii. xviii., in which Deloney's three Armada ballads and others are reprinted; Percy Society reprints of old ballads—Strange Histories, Garland of Good Will, and Jack of Newbery; W. C. Hazlitt's Handbook to Pop. Poet. and Dram. Lit. 1867, p. 152 et seq.; his Collections and Notes, 1876, p. 124; Transcript of the Registers of the Stationers' Company, ii. 495, 496, 498; Thomas Wright's Elizabeth and her Times, ii. 462; Stow's Survey, bk. v. p. 333, ed. 1720; Percy's Reliques, introd., xxxviii. 1876 ed.; Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time, pp. 107, 770 where the ballads mentioned by Nashe are traced so far as known; Kempe's Nine Daies Wonder, sign. d 3.]

J. W. E.