Note: The Two Names of Newington Butts

Abstract

While much has been done in the past hundred years to add to our stock of knowledge on the existence of the theater at Newington Butts, questions relating to names persist: there is no agreement over the origin of the name of the location itself—whence the “Butts” in Newington Butts—and studies of the venue invariably concede that we have no way of knowing the name of the playhouse itself.  Answers to both questions are to be found in the public record: in the case of the origin of “Butts,” I consider a Privy Council document that is readily available in the Acts but that seems to have passed unnoticed to date; regarding the name of the playhouse, I point to where the answer, the Playhouse, has been hiding in plain sight in lease documents that scholars have been discussing for half a century.  I also address the related question of why the Privy Council never referred to the Playhouse by name in the warrants and orders they issued in relation to the venue.