m. c. 1542
Facts and Events
Born 1552; Christened at St Nicholas Cole Abbey on 20 November 1552. Inherited lands in Monks Eleigh, Suffolk from his father in 1569. Matriculated to Christ's College Cambridge in May 1572. Admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1574. He is pictured in lace collar and wristbands, close black body dress and cloak, sword and dagger; dependant by a string from his neck a pheon (possibly a whistle formed in that shape).
At the age of 33 William was appointed to the Office of the Revells in Queen Elizabeth’s court. Perhaps it was at Gray’s Inn that he became involved in the emerging theatrical community, for Gray’s students put on plays and entertainments to liven up their compulsory dinners. William HONING became Clerk Comptroller of the Records in 1584; and since, after 1585, the titles of the plays produced were never given, he may, either through indolence and inefficiency, though more likely in obedience to private orders, have omitted other details as well.38 Just after Christmas in 1594 SHAKESPEARE put on his play The Commedy of Errors in Gray’s Inn Great Hall: and whether here, or at Elizabeth’s court, William would doubtless have seen many of the new plays of the age, by Kit MARLOWE, SHAKESPEARE and Ben JONSON.
On 30th May 1603 a grant was made by King James I to William HONINGS of the office of clerk of the tents and pavillions, also of games, revels masks, triumphs, tilts, tourneys, banqueting houses, sports and passtimes, fee 8s a day, and 24s for a yearly livery, with convenient house, cellar, stable, gardens etc to be assigned by the Master of tents and revels. When JONSON had his first court masque, Masque of Blacknesse performed, on Twelfth Night 1605, the scenery was produced by Inigo JONES. William’s job would have been to arrange such a revel. William would have been 53; JONSON only 32. William was still an officer of the revels in 1610; for most of this time (from 1579 to 1609), William’s Master of Revels would have been Edmund TILNEY. When he died the Crown still owed him £126 13s 4d, which debt he left to his younger brother Henry.