"no Merry Andrew, to stir up the multitudes with jests"
The Mountebanck Doctor and his Merry Andrew
Public DomainThe Mountebanck Doctor and his Merry Andrew - Credit: Edward Davis

Merry Andrew was the name given to a clown or mountebank’s assistant. When his master’s audience began to tire of the performance, he would pop up with a quip or a piece of slapstick to keep them entertained. The name allegedly comes from Henry VIII’s physician, Andrew Borde, a man known for his quick wit and humorous repartee.

Merry Andrew
Public DomainMerry Andrew - Credit: Marcellus Laroon
Thomas Holcroft’s memoirs contain a vivid description of a Merry Andrew’s capers which you can read here.