THE MERRY DEVIL OF EDMONTON
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Sir Arthur Clare, husband of Dorcas, father of Milliscent and Henry Clare. His daughter Milliscent and Raymond Mounchensey have been engaged for two years and are prepared to marry the next day. The two families meet at the St. George, an inn in Waltham. But Sir Arthur Clare has heard that Sir Richard, Raymond's father, has lost his fortune. He therefore wants to prevent the marriage. He takes Milliscent to the nunnery in Chester, where she has to stay for a year, after which she is to marry Frank Ierningham, whose father, Sir Ralph, is more prosperous and has already agreed to the match. The young men, Harry Clare, Raymond Mounchensey and Frank Ierningham hear about this plan. Together with Peter Fabell, Frank's friend and university teacher, they try to cross Sir Arthur's plans. Milliscent wants to confess her sins before she enters the convent. Her mother, Dorcas, has to remain in the nunnery and keep an eye on her, while Sir Arthur goes to fetch the nuns' confessor, friar Hildersome. This scene is not dramatized, but we hear later that Peter Fabell, disguised as Father Hildersome, duped Clare. Sir Arthur accompanies Father Hildersome's novice Benedic to the nunnery, but the young monk is actually Raymond Mounchensey in disguise. The lovers arrange Milliscent's escape from the nunnery. Sir Arthur Clare and Sir Ralph Ierningham try to catch the lovers in Brian's Wood, but the gamekeeper Brian and his men delay them. In the meantime the inn signs in Waltham have been exchanged, and when the two knights return they sleep in the wrong house. In the morning they find that Milliscent and Raymond are in the real St. George and have already been happily married by Sir John, the vicar of Enfield.
A miller from Waltham. He goes poaching in Brian's Wood, together with Sir John, Smug, and Blague.
Friar Hildersome's novice, but also Raymond Mounchensey in disguise. The real Hildersome is a Benedictine friar and hermit, and the nuns' confessor in Chester. We are told that Peter Fabell has disguised himself as Hildersome to deceive Sir Arthur Clare, who comes to look for a confessor for his daughter Milliscent in the nunnery, a scene that is not dramatized. Sir Arthur then accompanies the disguised Raymond Mounchensey, whom he believes to be Benedic, to Milliscent in the nunnery. The real Hildersome and his real novice Benedic appear only in the last act. Their appearance heightens the comic confusion and leads to the happy ending.
Sir Arthur Clare's servant.
The host of the St. George in Waltham. Together with his friends Sir John, Banks, and Smug, he intends to steal some venison from Brian's Wood to entertain his guests, Sir Arthur Clare, Sir Richard Mounchensey, Sir Ralph Ierningham and their family.
Constable and gamekeeper. He helps Peter Fabell and the young lovers. After her escape from the nunnery, Milliscent is to be brought to his lodge in the wood. But Brian's Wood is also the place where Sir John, Banks, Blague and Smug go poaching. Brian tries to surprise them in the act. Milliscent, Raymond, Frank and Henry are startled and disperse as they hear the voices of the poachers and of Brian's men. They fear that they are already pursued by the two knights, Sir Ralph Ierningham and Sir Arthur Clare. Brian finds Millicent, and as the others of her party reappear he hears that the poachers have fled towards Enfield. When the two knights arrive in pursuit of the young lovers, Brian delays them by accusing them of poaching.
Servant of Blague's neighbor. Sir Ralph and Sir Arthur take him for a servant of the St. George Inn. But the inn shields have been exchanged during the night, so that Sir Ralph and Sir Arthur lodge in the wrong house, while the wedding of Milliscent and Raymond takes place in the real St. George.
A devil. At the beginning of the play he comes to fetch Peter Fabell, the "merry fiend of Edmonton", a renowned scholar from Cambridge who has made a pact with hell, and whose time is now due. But Fabell binds Coreb to a magic chair from which he is released only after he has promised Fabell another seven years on earth.
Sir Arthur Clare's wife. She accompanies her daughter to the nunnery of Chester and surveys her from within.
DUKE OF NORFOLK
Only mentioned, he does not appear in the play. "To serve the Duke of Norfolk" is Banks' favorite euphemistic expression for poaching and drinking.
The son of Sir Raph Ierningham, a student. He should marry Milliscent according to the plans of his own father and Milliscent's father, Sir Arthur Clare. But he does not yet want to marry and so helps his teacher Peter Fabell and his friends Raymond Mounchensey and Henry Clare to organize Milliscent's escape from the convent and her marriage to Raymond.
FRIAR HILDERSOME or FATHER HILDERSOME
The real Hildersome is a Benedictine friar, the nun's confessor at the nunnery in Chester. We are told that Peter Fabell has disguised himself as Father Hildersome to deceive Sir Arthur Clare, who comes to look for a confessor for his daughter Milliscent, a scene that is not dramatized. Sir Arthur then accompanies Raymond Mounchensey, whom he believes to be Father Hildersome's novice Benedic, to Milliscent in the nunnery. The real Hildersome and his real novice Benedic appear only in the last act. Their appearance heightens the comic confusion and leads to the happy ending.
Sir Arthur Clare's and Dorcas' son and Milliscent's brother. He is on his sister's side and helps Peter Fabell, Frank Ierningham and Raymond Mounchensey to organize Milliscent's escape from the nunnery and her marriage to Raymond.
Sir Arthur Clare's daughter, in love with Raymond Mounchensey. A year ago their fathers agreed to their marriage, but Sir Arthur Clare wants to prevent it now because he has heard that Sir Richard Mounchensey has lost most of his money. He takes Milliscent against her will to a nunnery in Cheston. She has to stay there for a year and then be married to Frank Ierningham. Peter Fabell, Milliscent's brother Henry, Frank and Raymond organize her escape. Raymond tells her that he will come and visit her in a friar's disguise. Ironically, her father takes the false friar to the nunnery. During a sham confession Raymond tells her that he will come to fetch her in the evening and take her to Brian's lodge, and then they will be married by a priest. During their escape they are lost in the woods, but Brian finds Milliscent before her father and Sir Ralph can find her, and she returns to Waltham. The next morning she marries Raymond at the St. George in Waltham, while her father and Sir Ralph sleep in the wrong inn because Fabell has exchanged the inn signs to fool them.
Peter Fabell is the "merry devil of Edmonton", a Faust-like Cambridge scholar who has made a pact with the devil. His time on earth is over when the play starts, and Coreb, a minor devil, comes to take him to hell. But Peter Fabell tells him that he still has important business to do and asks the spirit to sit down and wait a moment. Coreb sits and becomes trapped in Fabell's magical chair. To be freed, he must grant Peter Fabell another seven years. For the rest of the play Fabell plays only a minor part on the stage, but he is the mastermind behind the operation that leads to the marriage of the young lovers. He knows Sir Arthur's plans and he wants to cross them and help the young lovers, because Raymond and Frank have been his favorite pupils. He organizes the plot for Milliscent's escape from the nunnery. Disguised as Father Hildersome he deceives Sir Arthur Clare and has him take Raymond in the disguise of his novice Benedic to the nunnery. In the final scene he confesses his responsibility for all the events, and he is proud that his plan has succeeded without any magic, conjuration or spells.
The Prioress of the nunnery in Cheston accepts Milliscent in her nunnery after giving her all the instructions needed.
At the beginning of the play a prologue informs us that Peter Fabell will be fetched by the devil.
Sir Ralph Ierningham, father of young Frank Ierningham. Together with Milliscent's father, Sir Arthur Clare, he agrees to have Milliscent sent to a nunnery in order to break her engagement with Raymond Mounchensey, and to have her marry his son after a year.
One of the gamekeeper Brian's men.
Son of Sir Richard Mounchensey. He is in love with Milliscent Clare and they should be married the next day. But her father, Sir Arthur Clare, tries to prevent their marriage when he finds out that Raymond's father is not as rich as he thought. He wants to send Milliscent to a nunnery, where she is to stay for a year and then marry Sir Ralph's son, young Frank Ierningham. Raymond is helped by Peter Fabell, Frank Ierningham and Milliscent's brother Harry Clare. Sir Arthur does not recognize Raymond in the disguise of Benedic, Friar Hildersome's novice. He leads him to the nunnery, where he can speak to Milliscent and secretly arrange her escape.
Sir Richard is Raymond Mounchensey's father. He has recently lost money helping his brother, a merchant. His son Raymond and Sir Arthur Clare's daughter Milliscent have been engaged for two years and should be married the next day at the St. George Inn in Waltham. Sir Arthur has heard that Mounchensey has lost his money, and he wants to prevent the marriage. He tells Sir Richard that Milliscent wants to go to a nunnery.
The sexton of Enfield. He hears the poachers in the dark and becomes fearful, believing that the ghost of his dead friend Theophilus is haunting the churchyard.
The vicar of Enfield, a village between Waltham and Edmonton. He goes poaching in Brian's Wood together with Banks, Blague and Smug. They are disturbed by the gamekeeper Brian and his men, by Milliscent and Raymond, and by the two knights pursuing the eloped young lovers. They flee from the wood and hide in the churchyard of Enfield, where they frighten themselves with their own noise. Next morning he goes to Waltham and marries Milliscent and Raymond at the St. George Inn.
The honest smith of Edmonton. He goes poaching in Brian's Wood together with Sir John, Banks, and Blague.
A "ghost character" who does not appear as a ghost in the play. A deceased friend of Salomon, the sexton, Theophilus is buried in the churchyard of Enfield. Surprised by the gamekeeper and his men, the poachers hide in the churchyard. When the sexton hears noises, he believes that it is the ghost of his friend.