William Smith, “The Freeman’s Honour,” and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men

  • David KathmanEmail author
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


W. Smith’s play “The Freeman’s Honour” is known only from being mentioned in the dedication to another of Smith’s plays, The Hector of Germany, printed in 1615. The dedication implies that “The Freeman’s Honour” was performed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, making it one of the few lost plays attributable to that company, but the identity of the author has long been a matter of dispute. For most of the twentieth century, theater historians identified “W. Smith” with Henslowe playwright Wentworth Smith, simply because he was the only known playwright with the right initial and surname in that period. However, a considerable body of circumstantial evidence indicates that the author was actually William Smith, rouge dragon pursuivant in the College of Heralds, who had lived in Germany for many years and had connections to the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and Sir John Swinnerton, the dedicatee of The Hector of Germany.


Wentworth Smith William Smith “The Freeman’s Honour” Lost playwright 

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ChicagoUSA

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