Viewing Event Record: Requests, Salisbury Court vs Brome: Richard Brome responds to the charges

Abstract

Richard Brome responds to the charges of the owners and company of Salisbury Court. Some eighteenth months before he signed the contract of July 1635, Richard Gunnell and the plaintiffs enticed him away from the Red Bull with promises of bountiful rewards. He thereupon made a number of successful plays for them, among which the Sparagus Garden brought them upwards of £1,000. Recognizing how useful Brome would be to them, the complainants then persuaded him to sign a three-year contract, which at first he was unwilling to take on 'as being more than he could well perform.' The complainants assured him, however, that while the contract stipulated three plays over three years, they did not expect him to produce more than was reasonable or convenient. Their purpose in stipulating such a number of plays was 'only to oblige this defendant to dedicate all his labour and plays totally unto their sole profits'. Brome signed the contract with the intention of living up to its terms, providing that they expect no more from him than he could reasonably produce. Brome delivered two new plays to them within three-quarters of a year of signing the contract; the second play being performed around the time the plague was taking hold of London, he did not receive the clear day's profit for it, at a personal loss of more than £5. He intended to use the time during which the theatre was closed to work on new plays, and assumed that he would continue to be paid his weekly salary over this period. The complainants, however, were reluctant to pay him, and around May 1636 offered to cancel the contract, which put Brome and his family to hardship 'in that hard, sad and dangerous time of the sickness'. Brome was finally pressed to borrow £6 of William Beeston, who lent the sum on condition that he write a new play for Beeston's company. The complainants then urged Brome to abandon Beeston, and to return to them. He was finally persuaded, and agreed to accept £10 in lieu of his weekly salary; this amount was not delivered to him until he had written a new play for them, and then only in small amounts. When the plague continued, Brome was forced again to turn to Beeston, whereupon the complainants brought a suit before the Master of Revels, who awarded Brome 6s. weekly and £5 for every new play. The complainants paid only part of this, and when the theatre re-opened in October 1637 they were indebted £11 11s 6d to the defendant. Since then, up to Easter term 1639, Brome has supplied the company with a total of eight new plays, the last 'written all but part of the last scene'. The company having abused and slighted his work, however, Brome has since entered into a contract with Beeston. Brome remarks furthermore that he was very sick while still in the company's employ; when he asked them for help, they refused and sent word that they would employ him no longer, and thereby defaulted on the contract. He notes that he owes them only two plays, and that he has done more than sufficient work in revising old plays and writing epilogues and prologues, songs, and introductions to make up the difference. Brome concedes that he has, out of necessity, sold a new play to Beeston, but that the complainants have also had it, and made more than £1,000 from it. He did agree on a weekly salary of 20s., but did not sign the contract, and denies either that he received any payment in this amount, or that he is in arrears to the complainants.

Date Event Recorded

Date
From: 6 March 1640 (Source of claim: original)

Date Event Happened

Date
From: circa January 1634 To: April 1639 (Source of claim: transcription)

Venues

Name
Salisbury Court
Name
Phoenix/Cockpit
Name
Red Bull

People

Name Role
Herbert, Henry Master of the Revels
Gunnell, Richard company manager
Beeston, William company manager
Beeston, Christopher company manager
Brome, Richard defendant
Heton, Richard plaintiff
Browne, Andrew scribe

Event Type

  • company business
  • court case
  • playhouse business