Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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Childermas-day, should sit and have due service, and " that Jack Straw, and all his adherents, should be thenceforth utterly banished, and no more to be used in this house, upon pain to forfeit for every time five pounds, to be levied on every fellow hapning to offend against this rule."
Of Jack Straw and his offences, I confess my ignorance; perhaps something in the nature of an anti-masque, or suspected of treasonable practices against the King of the Cockneys, and unpopular with the aristocratic or elder part of the com­munity, from the amount of the fine imposed. The Society of Gray's Inn, however, in 1527, got into a worse scrape than permitting Jack Straw and his adherents, for they acted a play (the first on record at the Inns of Court) during this Christ­mas, the effect whereof was, that Lord Governance was ruled by Dissipation and Negligence, by whose evil order Lady Public Weal was put from Gover­nance. * Cardinal Wolsey, conscience - smitten, thought this to be a reflection on himself, deprived the author, Serjeant Roe, of his coif, and committed him to the Fleet, together with Thomas Moyle, one of the actors, until it was satisfactorily explained to him.
It was found necessary from time to time to make regulations to limit the extent of these revels and plays, and to provide for the expences, which were considerable, and they were therefore not performed every year. In 1531 the Lincoln's Inn Society agreed that if the two Temples kept Christ­mas, they would also, not liking to be outdone. In 1550 an order was made in Gray's Inn that no Comedies, commonly called Interludes, should be acted in the refectory in the intervals of vacation,
* Baker's Chronicle, 393-4.

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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III