John Sincler (or Sinklo)

Date of birth unknown. The company’s ‘thin man’. On stage as ‘an actor’ in the induction of The Taming of the Shrew. As a beadle in 2 Henry IV (ca. 1597), ‘much is made of Sinklo’s skinny physique in this role, and the insults leveled at him by Doll and Mistress Quickly include ‘nut-hook’, ‘starved bloodhound’ and ‘thin thing’ (Wikipedia). The likeness with the apothecary is obvious, and the actor in question can be recognized in many a Shakespeare creation : ‘Based on his thin appearance, other characters Sinklo could have played include according to Wikipedia :

  • Master Pinch in The Comedy of Errors (before 1595), described as
    ‘a hungry-faced villain’
  • The Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet (1594), told by Romeo that
    ‘famine is in thy cheeks.’
  • Thersites in Troilus and Cressida, described as a ‘fragment’.
  • Robert Faulconbridge in King John (ca. 1595-6), whose legs are
    ‘riding-rods’ and who has arms ‘like eel-skins stuff’d’.
  • Slender in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597).
  • Starveling in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (ca. 1594).’

The description also fits Sir Andrew Aguecheeck in Twelfth-Night (ca. 1601), who is long and thin ‘like a distaff’. 1  His name is apparently a pun on his ‘heroic’ attitude. And if his face shows only the slightest resemblance to the name, it leaves him a true Knight (of the Sad Countenance) indeed. But the financially starving Sir Andrew is principally one of the pack that is after the rich Countess Olivia in hope of marriage : ever seen a bloodhound chasing a hot scent?

Like Sir Andrew, Faulconbridge is long and thin, and the beadle a nuthook (long, thin, and stooping). Like Sir Andrew, the beadle is a ‘starved bloodhound’ as well. And as such a strong link between Sir Andrew around 1601 and the hungry-faced villain of an apothecary in 1594. As a result there seems to be no space for doubt on John Sincler’s employment with the Chamberlain’s Men at any time between the patronages of Derby and James I.


This in perfect chiaroscuro with Richard Burbage’s short and fat Sir Toby Belch. Because of their equally sharp contrast between knights as fool and wit, and despite the reversed master-servant relationship, Sir Andrew Aguecheek is amazingly akin to that more famous knight from La Mancha (1605).