Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Jack Winchcomb

Jack Winchcomb, known as Jack of Newbery, a young weaver. Wild as a young man, he settles down, marries his master’s widow, and becomes a solid businessman. He patriotically raises a company of men to fight for Henry VIII against the Scots. He is offered knighthood by that sovereign but declines, saying that he knows his place in the world.

Jack’s master’s widow

Jack’s master’s widow, who trusts the young man, putting her business and then herself in his hands. She dies, leaving Jack all of her business and wealth.

Jack’s second wife

Jack’s second wife, a younger woman. She is a foolish gossip who makes difficulties for her husband.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII, the king of England. Pleased with Jack for being a witty and loyal subject, he offers the weaver knighthood.

Queen Catherine

Queen Catherine, Henry VIII’s queen. She thanks Jack for bringing a company of men to help fight against the Scots.

Cardinal Wolsey

Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s chancellor. He has Jack and other weavers thrown into prison when they attempt to petition the king.

The Duke of Somerset

The Duke of Somerset, who intervenes on Jack’s behalf when he is in prison and convinces Cardinal Wolsey that the weavers mean no harm.


Benedick, an Italian merchant. He has an amorous adventure in Newbery and is punished by being put to bed with a pig.


Joan, a pretty girl employed by Jack. She disdains Benedick when he makes advances to her.

Sir George Rigley

Sir George Rigley, a knight who seduces one of Jack’s female employees. He is tricked by Jack into marrying the girl. Angry at first, he comes to see the justice of Jack’s action and becomes the weaver’s friend.

Jack of Newbery Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Jusserand, J. J. The English Novel in the Time of Shakespeare. Translated by Elizabeth Lee. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1890. The classic study of early narrative tradition in English. Establishes an invaluable context for understanding the traditions Deloney inherited, including those of medieval romance, travel literature, euphuism, and pastoral. Also discusses picaresque and realistic fiction and carries the study into the seventeenth century with the historical romance.

Lawlis, Merritt E. Apology for the Middle Class: The Dramatic Novels of Thomas Deloney. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960. Discusses Jack of Newbery in light of its dialogue. Concludes that the novel is replete with realistic detail, but that realism combines with confessional, satirical, and humorous modes. Deloney also employed euphuistic and jestbook styles, but he prepared the way for later realist writers.

Lawlis, Merritt E. Introduction to The Novels of Thomas Deloney. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978. Places Deloney in his literary context, comparing his works to those by Ben Jonson, John Webster, and William Shakespeare. Deloney was the first in English prose fiction to employ dialect and malapropism. Includes an excellent index to all Deloney’s novels.

Linton, Joan Pong. “Jack of Newbery and Drake in California: Narratives of English Cloth and Manhood.” ELH 59, no. 1 (Spring, 1992): 23-51. Discusses the rise of the cloth trade in England as reflecting the transition from household economics to capitalism. Investigates Deloney’s portrayal of the bourgeois hero, showing that it was not simply a nostalgic appropriation of the feudal model. Examines new ways in which Deloney defines manhood, showing that the novel participated in reshaping discourses of the self.

Wright, Eugene P. Thomas Deloney. Boston: Twayne, 1981. Includes an excellent introduction to Jack of Newbery, tracing its sources and plot and analyzing major themes. Contends that the novel is a cosmic apologia for workers in the cloth trade. Examines the relation of the novel to the contemporary social scene. Includes some discussion of narrative structure, character development, and imagery.