established in 1567 also became powerful and established many chapters
throughout the empire. Seven of these Confradias became established in St.
Augustine and it is known that they all contributed to the support of Santa
Barbara, the first hospital. It is logical to assume that plays and entertainments
for charitable purposes were given in imitation of the parent organizations in
Spain, but so far there is no specific proof. Documents being translated by the
Restoration organization of St. Augustine may yield absolute information on
Other evidence that these brotherhoods gave plays is to be found in
the inventory of the Confradias by Solano and Paredes in 1764. Florida
had been coded to England and all possessions of the brotherhoods were
carefully listed in this document. Numerous items of clothing, vestments,
and costumes shown seem to indicate that they were used as stage
properties as the great quantity of them precludes their use as religious
ceremonial garments alone.
During the first Spanish occupation it is interesting to note that
Tony Aston, famous English actor, took part in Moore's siege of St.
Augustine in 1703. He is credited with having introduced in New York in
the first ticket playhouse in the country. Charleston claims Ashton also,
and is planning a theatre to commemorate his residence there after he
returned from St. Augustine.
Prefacing his play "The Fool's Opera," Ashton wrote a
sketch of his career saying "You are to know me as a gentlemen, lawyer,
sailor." He names many countries visited by him, including "North and
South Carolina and South Florida."