How to Use.

Case numbers: Cases consist of three elements: a page number, an extract number, and a continuation marker. For the Source Index and Facet Search, page numbers are hyperlinked to surrogate images of their respective page from the Internet Archive facsimile, made from Thomas Fisher Library Rare Book B-12 00236 (PDF, here; OCR text, here). Cases are considered to be from a single ‘source’ if no more than ten lines in the original separate them from their neighbours. In one case, punctuation proves very deceptive (73.5, 74.1); and, for another one, possibly two cases Cotgrave’s printer has failed to divide two passages from different plays by omitting a printer’s rule (47.5, 47.6), meaning that the intended total of passages was probably 1,700, exactly. In a single case, lines from the same passage are flipped (6.3). In the Source Index, but not the Facet Search, page numbers inferred from context—to correct printers’ errors—are given in italics (6, 169, 199, 26, 292—see Case, Bibliography, 70). In two cases, it is inferred that grammatically conjoined passages of unidentified plays originate together from the same lost source (18.4–, 84.8–). All cases have been checked digitallity, for numerical accuracy, using Microsoft Excel’s Data tools.

Titles: Titles follow the play-title Index of Annals’s 3rd edition, with author modifiers added to the Source Index for plays of similar titles but different authorship (e.g., “Richard II [Shakespeare],” to distinguish the item from the anonymous history play). Strikethrough-titles from the Source Index denote plays supposed, by previous studies, to be included, but now known to be inaccurate or improbable—for example, several passages from late plays such as Thomas May’s Old Couple (1658). In the Source Index, the ‘Tragedy’ of Bussy D’Ambois is differentiated from the entirely different play the ‘History’ of Bussy D’Ambois by the genre term, for obvious reasons; whereas, for the Facet Search, in which alphabetical discovery is secondary, the genre term is integrated into the title, for, respectively, The Tragedy of Bussy D’Ambois and The History of Bussy D’Ambois. “MS” is similarly left undistinguished.

Dates: It is my hope that future versions of this site will permit querying play titles by date of first publication and the date of Cotgrave’s edition. This function would be significant, for instance, in the study of Shakespeare’s plays, where Cotgrave quotes from quarto editions of plays that he also owned in folio. All other dates of first publication, in Table 1, come from Alan Farmer and Zarchary Lesser’s DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks (created 2007; update 2017).

Authorship: The Facet Search database provides original authorship—authorship from title-page evidence—with one exception, Middleton’s A Game at Chess, where external evidence in the form of several extant manuscript copies permits his authorship to be inferred.

Transcription: Transcription of the passages regularizes out long-s, ignores small-caps, swash letters, and tailed letters, for reasons of searchability in the larger, global online environment.

Please cite the following information where referring to the site:

Joshua McEvilla, with contributions from Sean M. Winslow, An Online Reader of John Cotgrave’s The English Treasury of Wit and Language, published 24 August 2014,, accessed [today’s date].

All contents are protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International Licence.

© Joshua McEvilla,