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Thomas of Reading was printed previous to the year 1600, when it was alluded to by Kemp, but the precise date of the first Edition does not appear. The Marquis of Stafford possesses a copy in 4to. 1623, and in the Roxburgh sale " The pleasant History of Thomas of Reading," 4to. 1636, produced £5.15«. 6d.
The following entry in the Henslowe MSS. shews that it was made the subject of a dramatic performance:
12 Nov. 1601. The six Clothiers of the West, by Richard Hathway, Wentworth Smith and Wm. Haughton. The second part of The Six Clothiers by the
on, THE SIXE WORTHIE YEOMEN
OF THE WEST.
NOW THE SIXTH TIME CORRECTED AND ENLARGED
Br T. D. Thov shalt labovr till thov retvrne to dvste. LONDON,
PRINTED BY ELIZ. ALLDE FOR
THE PLEASANT HISTORIE OF THE SIXE WORTHY YEOMEN OF THE WEST.
In the dayes of King Henry the first, who was the first king that instituted the high Court of Parliament, there liued nine men, which for the trade of Clothing, were famous throughout all England. Which Art in those dayes was held in high reputation, both in respect of the great riches that thereby was gotten, as also of the benefit it brought to the whole Common-wealth: the yonger sons of knights and Gentlemen, to whom their Fathers would leaue no lands, were most commonly preferred to learne this trade, to the end, that thereby they might liue in good estate, and driue forth their dayes in prosperity.
Among all Crafts this was the onely chiefe, for that it was the greatest merchandize, by the which our Country became famous thorowout all Nations. And it was verily thought, that the one halfe of the people in the land liued in those dayes therby,'and in such good sort, that in the Common-wealth there were few or no beggers at all: poore people, whom God lightly blessed with most children, did by meunes of this occupation so order them, that by the time that they were come to be sixe or seuen yeeres of age, they were able to get their owne bread: Idlenesse was then banished our coast, so that it was a rare thing to heare of a thiefe in those dayes. Therefore it was not without cause that Clothiers were then both honoured and loued, among whom these nine persons in this kings dayes were of great credit, viz. Tho. Cole of Reading, Gray of Glocester, Sutton of Salisburie, Fitzallen of Worcester, (commonly called William of Worcester) Tom Doue of Excester, and Simon of South-hampton, alias Supbroth: who were by the King called, The sixe worthy Husbands of the West. Then were there three liuing in the North, that is to say, Cutbert of Kendall, Hodgekins of Hallifax, and Martin Byram of Manchester. Euery one of these kept a great number of seruants at worke, spinners, carders, weauers, fullers, dyers, sheerement, and rowers, to the great admiration of all those that came into their houses to behold them.
Now you shall vnderstand, these gallant Clothiers, by reason of their dwelling places, separated themselues in three seuerall companies: Gray of Glocester, William of Worcester, and Thomas of Reading, because their iourney to London was all one way, they conuersed commonly together: And Doue of Excester, Sutton of Salisburie, and Simon of South-hampton, they in like sort kept