Rowley, Samuel (DNB00)

ROWLEY, SAMUEL (d. 1633?), dramatist, is described by John Payne Collier as a brother of William Rowley [q. v.] Before 1598 he seems to have been attached to the service of Philip Henslowe, the theatrical manager. In March 1598 he borrowed money of Henslowe, and on 16 Nov. 1599 became by indentures Henslowe's ‘covenanted servant’ (Henslowe, Diary, p. 200). He was apparently employed at first as a reader and reviser of the manuscript plays submitted to Henslowe. According to Collier's ‘Alleyn Papers,’ he reported, at Henslowe's request, in April 1601 on the merits of the ‘Conquest of the West Indies’ by William Haughton [q. v.] and others, and on ‘Six Yeomen of the West’ by Haughton and Day.

Rowley never seems to have attempted acting, but he soon made experiments as a playwright. In that capacity he was associated with the company known successively as the Admiral's, Prince Henry's, and the Palsgrave's. His earliest effort belonged to 1601. On 24 Dec. of that year he and William Borne or Bird were paid 5l. by Henslowe on account of a play called ‘Judas,’ on which Rowley was still engaged next month in collaboration with William Haughton as well as Borne. For a play called ‘Samson,’ by Rowley and Edward Juby, Henslowe paid them 6l. on 29 July 1602 (ib. p. 224). For ‘Joshua,’ acted by the Lord Admiral's servants on 27 Sept. 1602, Rowley was paid 7l. on the same day (ib. p. 226). Rowley's ‘Hymen's Holiday, or Cupid's Vagaries,’ was acted at court in 1612, and, with some alterations, before the king and queen at Whitehall in 1633. Sir Henry Herbert licensed on 27 July 1623 to be acted by the Palsgrave's players at the Fortune Theatre ‘A French Tragedy of Richard III, or the English Profit with the Reformation,’ by Rowley; this may possibly be a revised version of ‘Richard Crookback,’ a lost piece by Ben Jonson (cf. ib. 24 June 1602, p. 223). Rowley's ‘Hard Shift for Husbands, or Bilboes the Best Blade,’ was licensed by Sir Henry Herbert on 29 Oct. 1623 to be acted at the Fortune Theatre by the Palsgrave's players. None of these pieces are extant.

In 1602 Rowley and William Bird were paid by Henslowe 4l. for making additions to ‘Faustus.’ Possibly some of the feeble comic scenes in the extant editions of Marlowe's tragedy, which was first published in 1604, are from Rowley's pen [see Marlowe, Christopher].

The only extant play that can be with certainty assigned to Rowley is entitled ‘When you see me you know me, or the famous Chronicle Historie of King Henrie VIII, with the Birth and Virtuous Life of Edward, Prince of Wales, as it was played by the High and Mightie Prince of Wales his Servants; by Samvell Rovvley, servant to the Prince,’ i.e. a member of Prince Henry's company of actors (London, printed by Nathaniel Butter, 1605, 4to). It was reprinted in 1613, 1621, and 1632. Copies of all these editions are in the Bodleian Library; copies of the second and fourth quartos only are in the British Museum. The piece deals with incidents in the reign of Henry VIII, apparently between 1537 and 1540, but there is no strict adherence to historical fact. The play is chiefly remarkable for the buffoonery in which the disguised king and his companion, ‘Black Will,’ indulge when seeking nocturnal adventures in the city of London, and for the rough jesting of two fools, William Summers and Cardinal Wolsey's fool Patch. Fletcher and Shakespeare possibly owed something to Rowley's effort when preparing their own play of ‘Henry VIII.’ Rowley's title doubtless suggested that of Thomas Heywood's ‘If you know not me, you know nobody’ (1605–6). Rowley's play was republished at Dessau in 1874, with an introduction and notes by Karl Elze.

Of a second extant play commonly attributed to Rowley the authorship is less certain. The piece is called ‘The Noble Sovldier, or a Contract broken justly reveng'd, a tragedy written by S. R.,’ 4to, London, 1634. The play, which met with success in representation, seems to have been first licensed for publication in May 1631, to John Jackman, under the name of ‘The Noble Spanish Soldier,’ which is the running title of the published book. The entry in the ‘Stationers' Register’ describes it as the work of Thomas Dekker. Again, in December 1633 Nicholas Vavasour, the publisher of the only edition known, re-entered it in the ‘Stationers' Register’ as by Thomas Dekker. It was doubtless either Dekker's work edited by Rowley, or Rowley's work revised and completed by Dekker. According to the anonymous editor's preface, the author was dead at the time of its publication. Dekker does not appear to have died much before 1641, and, on that assumption, the second hypothesis, which assigns to Dekker the main responsibility for the piece, seems the more acceptable. Two scenes of ‘The Noble Sovldier’ are wholly taken from John Day's ‘Parliament of Bees’ (characters 4 and 5), which is supposed to have been written about 1607 (Day, Works, ed. A. H. Bullen, i. 26–7).

[Henslowe's Diary (Shakespeare Soc.), passim; Fleay's Biogr. Chronicle of the Stage; Fleay's Hist. of the Stage; Elze's introduction to Rowley's ‘When you see me,’ 1874; Collier's Bibl. Cat.]

S. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.240
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
362 ii 9-11 Rowley, Samuel: for successively with … companies of actors. read with the company of actors known successively as the Admiral's, Prince Henry's, and the Palsgrave's men.
38 after extant. insert In 1602 Rowley and William Bird were paid by Henslowe 4l. for making additions to ‘Faustus.’ Possibly some of the feeble comic scenes in the extant edition of Marlowe's tragedy, which was first published in 1604, are from Rowley's pen [see Marlowe, Christopher]