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It is a feature of this list that virtually every character that appears on the early English stage is represented here and described. This prosopography was compiled not by copying dramatis personae but rather by reading every extant play and noting every character. Then, from this painstaking research, the lists were compiled that constitute this prosopography.

Every effort has been made to make this index as accessible as possible. There will always be exceptions to rules where extraordinary circumstances insist, but the following explanation of methodology should assist the researcher in readily finding any character from the early modern English popular tradition.

Characters are listed alphabetically. Thus "PRIESTS, THREE" comes before "PRIESTS, TWO."

In order to keep given names together in this listing, spaces are treated as alphabetical units preceding "A." Therefore "TIM" will be followed by "TIM BLOODHOUND" and only after that will the user find "TIMAGORAS."

Where a spelling can be modernized, as MAGNYFYCENCE / MAGNIFICENCE, it has been modernized in the main rubric. However, where deemed desirable, the old spelling has been maintained in the note as a signal that the work varies in its original form.

Spelling has been regularized as much as possible. The vagaries of what constitutes old spelling and modern have been dealt with to the best of human ability. However, many names such as KATHARINE / KATHERINE / CATHERINE continue to be attested in modern spelling, and modern editions as well as original texts are often at variance on the accepted spelling of a character's name. It is therefore nearly impossible to reflect a "correct" spelling for any character name. Every attempt has been made to guide the researcher from spelling variants to the names as they are listed in this prosopography, but while conducting an extended search in this index the user is strongly advised to search carefully through every spelling (e.g. SOLIMON, SOLOMON, SOLYMON, et cetera).

There are three classes of characters represented in the CORD Character Prosopography:

  1. dramatic characters;
  2. "ghost characters," and
  3. historical, mythological, legendary, or biblical persons who are "only mentioned."
Dramatic characters are those persons physically inhabiting the stage (whether they speak or not, whether they are listed in the dramatis personae or not). For the other two classes, please see the listing entitled "A Word about 'Ghost Characters'" to be found at the top of the Prosopography.

Supernumeraries (ATTENDANTS, LORDS, PAGES, et cetera) are excluded from this list unless they

  1. perform significant action,
  2. speak, or
  3. are referred to by name.
In all other cases, supernumeraries are considered "set dressing" rather than characters for purposes of this Prosopography.

Where appropriate, characters will be listed under more than one letter or heading. For example, the character known as Prince Henry, son of Henry IV may be found under "HAL"; "HENRY, PRINCE"; "HARRY OF MONMOUTH"; and "HENRY V."

In cases where there are two (or more) well-accepted spellings for a single character, full notices will be grouped under one heading that combines both (or all) spellings. For example, "LEAR OR LEIR" would be found in the "L" list and "KING LEAR OR LEIR" under "K." In this instance there would be no posting under "LEIR" because that spelling would alphabetically fall so closely under "LEAR" as to make it unnecessarily redundant. Where spellings are very different, as "TIRIL" and "TYRRELL," there will be full notices under each and spellings will not be combined.

If a historical figure appears in several plays but his name is spelled differently in each, a note will appear at the end of each notice directing the researcher to the alternate spelling, thus:


Supporter of Richard III in Shakespeare's Richard III. Richard hires Tyrrell to murder Prince Edward and Prince Richard. Tyrrell orders his servant Dighton, along with Forrest, to commit the murders. (See also "JAMES TIRIL" or "TIRIL, JAMES").

In this case, the "TIRIL" spelling would refer not to Shakespeare's play but to Heywood's 2 Edward IV, and the scholar is advised to check all spellings given.

n.b.The CORD eschews cross-references using q.v. or qq.v. If a notice refers to other characters or character names, the reader is being directed to look under those headings. For example, in the following listing, the reader should also look under "CLARE HARCOP" as well as "JOHN HARCOP, SIR" for further descriptions:


The family name of Sir John and Clare in Wilkins's The Miseries of Enforced Marriage.

You will note that there are underlined "hyperlinks" embedded in each notice. These links take you to the synopsis or synoptic character list for that play.

If a single character appears in more than one play, that character will receive one heading and all plays in which that character appears will be numbered and grouped under that single heading, thus (note: the example below is merely illustrative, the actual notices would be complete):


The character who will one day become the English king Henry V is introduced as Henry, or Prince Hal, King Henry IV's eldest son and heir apparent to the English throne in Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV.
The eldest son of King Henry IV in Shakespeare's 2 Henry IV.
In Shakespeare's Henry V
In Tarlton's The Famous Victories of Henry V

NOTE: In this category of listing, plays are arranged by the character's chronology and not the date of the play's composition. Hence, under "ROBIN HOOD," the 1599 Looke About You is listed before the 1598 Death of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon because the 1599 play presents a youthful Robin Hood and the 1598 play depicts his death.

You will note that there are underlined "hyperlinks" embedded in each notice. These links take you to the synopsis or synoptic character list for that play.

In those rare instances where a single play features two characters sharing the same name (as the melancholy JAQUES and Orlando's brother JAQUES in Shakespeare's As You Like It) they will both be listed under a single heading thus (note: the example below is merely illustrative, the actual notices would be complete):


There are two characters named Luce in Thomas Heywood's The Wise Woman of Hogsdon:
  1. The daughter of a goldsmith and the love interest of rival wooers Boyster and Young Chartley.
  2. The so-called "Second" Luce is a clever, rich, and attractive maid.

You will notice that there is an underlined "hyperlink" embedded in this notice. Such links take you to the synopsis or synoptic character list for that play.

Where characters from different plays share the same name (as ANTONIO in Marston's Antonio and Mellida and ANTONIO in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice), they are given separate notices. These characters are numbered (e.g. ANTONIO [1] and ANTONIO [2]) in case the scholar wishes to use this Prosopography as a shorthand reference to the many dramatic characters appearing on the English Renaissance popular stage. This numbering attempts, as far as scholarship may reach, to rank these characters chronologically by date of play. Where plays occur in the same year and contain identical character names, those names are ranked alphabetically by the last name of the playwright.

Where appropriate, characters that carry titles linked to land will be noted individually under both name and title. Therefore, Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, would be given full notice under "HENRY PERCY"; "NORTHUMBERLAND"; and "PERCY, HENRY."

Knights and Ladies are not alphabetized by title. Therefore Sir John Falstaff would be found only under "FALSTAFF, SIR JOHN"; "JOHN FALSTAFF, SIR"; and also possibly under the nickname "JACK." Likewise, "LADY MACBETH" is listed only under "MACBETH, LADY." This rule also applies to the honorific "Sir" sometimes attached to clergy. Therefore the priest Sir Christopher would be found listed only under "CHRISTOPHER, SIR." This rule applies to equivalent foreign titles, "DON" or "CHEVALIER" et cetera; hence, Don Andrea from The Spanish Tragedy will be found listed only under "ANDREA, DON."

This same rule applies to the titles of commoners. "MISTRESS OVERDONE" may be found only under "OVERDONE, MISTRESS"; "MASTER MATTHEW SHORE" will be found under both "SHORE, MASTER MATTHEW" and "MATTHEW SHORE, MASTER"; "MRS. YELLOWHAMMER" only under "YELLOWHAMMER, MRS."; and so forth for "GOODMAN"; "GOODY" and other such commoners' titles. Equivalent foreign titles, "MONSIEUR" or "SIGNIOR" et cetera, are likewise treated unless the character is known only as "MONSIEUR" et cetera in which case that would be the heading under which he is listed.

Likewise, clergy are listed only under their given names or surnames where such are known ("WOLSEY, CARDINAL") but are not listed under their clerical rank. Only characters such as the Duchess of Malfi's brother, who is known only as "Cardinal," will be found listed as "CARDINAL." The researcher, therefore, who is looking for all appearances of cardinals in the early modern popular theatre should run a check of all alphabetical listings (using the Control-F function and typing in the search index "Cardinal"). This recommendation holds true for all such titles.

Please note, where a title is also the character's name, such as "MASTER OF THE SHIP" in Shakespeare's The Tempest, it will be so listed. Likewise, Mistress Quickly may be found under "QUICKLY, MISTRESS" and also under "HOSTESS" but not under "MISTRESS QUICKLY."

"OLD" is probably technically an informal title. Nevertheless, a character such as "OLD KNOWELL" will be listed under "OLD KNOWELL."

Likewise, characters whose name includes "WIDOW" or "WIFE" are so listed, as "WIDOW WIGGEN" and "WIFE OF CHABOT." These names are also cross-listed where necessary. 'WIDOW WIGGEN" would not be cross listed as "WIGGEN, WIDOW" because the spelling would alphabetically fall so closely under "WIDOW" as to make it unnecessarily redundant. "WIFE OF CHABOT", however, would also be found under "C" listed as "CHABOT'S WIFE."

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