Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/341

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Alleyn
Alleyn
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Dedicated to the Earl of Bedford. The ‘Miscellanea’ consist of many curious anecdotes, and explanations of persons, places, &c., which manifest his extensive reading. 2. ‘Hebrew Grammar,’ MS. 3. ‘Judgment concerning the doctrine and discipline of the Church,’ printed in Strype's Annals, i. 348. 4. He revised the book of Deuteronomy for the Bishops' Bible.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 376; Biog. Brit. ed. Kippis, i. 150; Calendars of State Papers; MS. Addit. 16398 f. 59; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. i. 284, 557; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. ed. Bohn; Godwin, De Præsulibus, ed. Richardson; MS. Lansd. 11 art. 56; Nasmith's Cat. of C.C.C. MSS. 153, 157; John Vowell, alias Hooker's Catalog of the Bishops of Excester (1584), No. 46.]

T. C.

ALLEYN, EDWARD (1566–1626), actor, and founder of Dulwich College, was born 1 Sept. 1566, in the parish of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate, London (according to Fuller, ‘near Devonshire House, where now is the sign of the Pie’), being a younger son of Edward Alleyn, or Allen, an innholder and porter to the queen. In a pedigree signed by himself, his mother, Margaret Alleyn, is said to have been a daughter of John Townley, of Townley; but, although her name is no doubt correctly given, her connection with the Lancashire Townleys is not satisfactorily made out. The elder Alleyn, who owned several houses in Bishopsgate, died in September 1570, and his widow subsequently married John Browne, a haberdasher. Mr. Collier's statement that this Browne was also an actor is grounded on a mistaken identity, and the assumption that it was by his stepfather that Alleyn, as Fuller tells us, was ‘bred a stage player,’ has nothing to warrant it. At what age he began to act is unknown. His name first occurs in a list of the Earl of Worcester's players in 1586, and he appears with his elder brother, John Alleyn, as a joint owner of play-books and other theatrical properties in a document dated 3 Jan. 1588–9. That he speedily gained celebrity is evident from a notice of him in Thomas Nash's ‘Pierce Penilesse,’ 1592, where Alleyn, Tarlton, Knell, and Bentley are said to be the four greatest English actors:—‘Not Roscius nor Esope, those tragedians admyred before Christ was borne, could ever performe more in action than famous Ned Allen.’ His very name even, as we learn from the same author's ‘Strange Newes,’ 1592, was ‘able to make an ill matter good.’

On 22 Oct. 1592, he married Joan Woodward, daughter by a former husband of Agnes, then wife of Philip Henslowe. There is a tradition that he was already a widower; but the only evidence of this among his own papers is the mention of ‘Mistris’ Alleyn in a letter probably written in Feb. 1591–2. Henslowe was not only proprietor of the Rose, but interested in more than one other London theatre; and after Alleyn's marriage, if not before, the two were united in a partnership which lasted until Henslowe's death. The company to which Alleyn was now permanently attached was that known as the Earl of Nottingham's or the Lord Admiral’s. In 1593, however, while the plague was in London, he is found joined with Lord Strange's actors in a provincial tour, which extended as far as Bristol, Shrewsbury, Chester, and York. It is to this tour that we owe an interesting correspondence with his wife and her stepfather, preserved at Dulwich. Henslowe's invaluable theatrical diary shows that he was again acting in London in 1594 and following years; but he ‘left playing,’ apparently for a time only, towards the end of 1597. In 1600 he built, in conjunction with Henslowe, the Fortune Theatre in Golden Lane, Cripplegate, having acquired a lease of the site in his own name only on 22 Dec. 1599. The contract for the house, dated 8 Jan. 1600, together with warrants in its favour, is still extant. It was probably completed by the end of the year, and was occupied by the Lord Admiral's company with Alleyn himself at their head.

Before this, however, Alleyn had begun to provide the public with coarser amusement. As early as 1594 he had acquired an interest in the baiting house at Paris Garden in Southwark, and on a vacancy in 1598 he and Henslowe, now groom of the chamber to the queen, endeavoured to secure the office of the master of Royal Game of bears, bulls, and mastiff dogs. Although they failed at the time, they ultimately obtained it by purchase from the then holder in 1604, a new patent in their favour as joint masters being issued on 24 Nov. This was held by Alleyn as the survivor until his death, and it was no doubt a source of considerable profit. On special occasions he seems to have directed the sport in person, and a graphic but revolting account of his baiting a lion before James I at the Tower is given in Stow's ‘Chronicle,’ ed. 1631. p. 835.

Whether Alleyn still continued to act after he became bear-master is uncertain. On the accession of James I the Lord Admiral's company was taken over by Prince Henry, and Alleyn is formally styled ‘servant to the prince’ as late as 1612. His name, however, is not in the list of the prince's