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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VI. The Drama to 1642, Part Two.

XI. The Children of the Chapel Royal and their Masters

§ 6. The Child-actors

The names of some of these boy actors of this later period are known, some from Henry Clifton’s bill of complaint and some from the lists in Ben Jonson’s plays. One of them, Salathiel Pavy, as is well known, died early, and was celebrated by Johnson in a graceful, if somewhat “conceited,” epitaph, full of the highest praise for his abilities as an actor. Others became renowned as members of the king’s company in later years.

As to the ages of the boys, it is difficult to speak with certainty. Young Clifton was thirteen years old when “taken up,” and William Hunnis found it necessary, in earlier times (1583), “to kepe bothe a man servant to attend upon them and lykewyse a woman servant to wash and kepe them cleane.” In the case of the boys of the choir, it was customary, from early times, for the sovereign to provide for their education at one of the universities so soon as their “breasts (i.e. voices) changed”; but, no doubt, when their principal function was acting they were held longer as children of the chapel, and Philip Gawdy writes in 1601: “’T is sayde my Lady of Leoven hath marryed one of the playing boyes of the chappell.”