Henry Carey, Lord Chamberlain.

The company was originally formed under the patronage of Lord Strange, but when he died in 1594, the players found a patron in Henry Carey, the Lord Chamberlain.*

Henry Carey, 1st Lord Hunsdon, was Queen Elizabeth's cousin through his mother, Mary Boleyn. As Lord Chamberlain from 1585 to 1596, he was an officer of the Privy Council, in charge of Her Majesty's indoor entertainment. It was through this office that the Privy Council exerted control over the theatres and protected them from Puritan attacks.

When he died in 1596, his son, George Carey, second Lord Hunsdon and Lord Chamberlain, took over as patron until 1603.

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The reorganized company performed at the Theatre and the Curtain; in 1599 they moved to the newly built Globe. By 1600 they had emerged as the leading theatrical company in London, and in 1603 became the King's Men under a royal patent from James I. The company continued successfully until the closing of the theatres in 1642.

Shakespeare may have been an original member of the company; he had certainly achieved prominence as a sharer by March, 1595. He is known to have acted in some of Ben Jonson's plays, and there is a legend that he played the ghost in Hamlet, and Adam in As You Like It. The original actors when the company was formed were:

Richard Burbage (sharer, principal actor)
William Shakespeare (sharer by 1595)
John Heminge* (sharer)
Augustine Phillips
William Kempe (sharer, clown)
Thomas Pope
George Bryan
Richard Cowley
Samuel Gilbourne (child actor)
William Sly
Henry Condell*
John Sincler

Heminge was the business manager for the company. There is a tradition that he created the part of Falstaff. Together with Henry Condell, he prepared the important First Folio of Shakespeare's works (1623).

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Henry Condell joined the Chamberlain's Men at about the same time as Shakespeare, though he only later became a sharer. Together with John Heminge, he compiled the First Folio (1623).

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On 19 May, 1603, the Lord Chamberlain's Men became the King's Men, and Letters Patent were issued. These read, in part:

William Shakespeare...and the rest of theire Assosiates freely to use and exercise the Arte and faculty of playinge Comedies Tragedies histories Enterludes moralls pastoralls Stageplaies and suche others like as theie have alreadie studied or hereafter shall use or studie aswell for the recreation of our lovinge Subjectes as for our Solace and pleasure when wee shall thincke good to see them duringe our pleasure..."

Footnotes

  1. The Lord Chamberlain

    Henry Carey, 1st Lord Hunsdon, was Queen Elizabeth's cousin through his mother, Mary Boleyn. As Lord Chamberlain from 1585 to 1596, he was an officer of the Privy Council, in charge of Her Majesty's indoor entertainment. It was through this office that the Privy Council exerted control over the theatres and protected them from Puritan attacks.

    When he died in 1596, his son, George Carey, second Lord Hunsdon and Lord Chamberlain, took over as patron until 1603.

  2. John Heminge

    Heminge was the business manager for the company. There is a tradition that he created the part of Falstaff. Together with Henry Condell, he prepared the important First Folio of Shakespeare's works (1623).

  3. Henry Condell

    Henry Condell joined the Chamberlain's Men at about the same time as Shakespeare, though he only later became a sharer. Together with John Heminge, he compiled the First Folio (1623).