Mr Punch or Pulcinella as he was known started life as a wandering commedia Del’ arte troupe back in the 16th century. His character was that of a hooked nosed buffoon travelling the length and breadth of Italy performing comedy plays, as the centuries rolled on so did Pulcinella performing right across Europe and leaving his mark on the way, many countries adopted Pulcinella in their own style, for an extended list you could visit this web site:
By the 17th century during the reign of King Charles 11, Pulcinella had arrived in England he had
evolved into a glove puppet by the name of Punchinello this was eventually shortened to Mr Punch.
May 9th 1662 was a very significant day for Mr Punch as this was the day the famed diarist Samuel Pepys, whilst on his way to see King Charles 11, stopped to admire an amusing puppet show being performed by a Signor Bologna a showman from Italy, and he quoted, “Thence to see an Italian puppet play, that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that I ever saw, and great resort of gallants.” This entry is considered the first written record of a Punch and Judy show in England, and to commemorate that special day Punch men from all over the country celebrate Punch’s birthday in style by giving free performances in the grounds of St Paul’s Church Covent Garden London on the Sunday nearest the 9th May, If you are a fan of Punch this event is not one to be missed.
By the mid 19th century Punch had reached his golden years, all across the country at fairs, seaside resorts, family parlours and in the streets of London all the classes both rich and poor marvelled at the sight of a Punch and Judy Show.
Charles Dickens was a great admirer of Punch and frequently mentioned him in his novels; The Old Curiosity Shop seemed to be based almost entirely on the antics of Mr Punch.
A Punch and Judy script as it first appeard in London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew, published in 1851 can be seen using this link:
Another interesting site on the history
of puppets can be found on this web link: