- The name of two early English theater companies, both of whichbecame embroiled in controversy. The first was formed in about 1492from the household of the Earl of Oxford. In 1547 the company causedoutrage when it performed in Southwark while a dirge was being sungin a nearby church for Henry VIII. The first company disbanded in1562 and it was not until 1580 that a new troupe was formed underthe patronage of the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere (a minorpoet believed by some to have been the true author of Shakespeare'splays: see Baconian theory). Later that year the playerswere banished to the provinces after becoming involved in a brawlat the Theatre. In 1584 boys from Oxford's Men played at theBlackfriars Theatre with members of other boy companies.The company disbanded in 1602.