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It has been shown that two years before that event a claim of 81. was made upon him in the borough court of Stratford, and we must conclude, either that the money was not due and the demand unjust, or that he was unable to pay the debt, and was therefore proceeded against. The issue of the suit is not known; but in the next year he seems to have been established in business as a glover, a branch of trade much carried on in that part of the kingdom, and, as already mentioned, he certainly served upon the jury of a court-leet in 1556. Therefore, we are, perhaps, justified in thinking that his affairs were sufficiently prosperous to warrant his union with the youngest of seven co-heiresses, who brought him some independent property.

Under her father's will she inherited 61. 13s. 4d. in money, and a small estate in fee, in the parish of Aston Cantlowe, called Asbyes, consisting of a messuage, fifty acres of arable land, six acres of meadow and pasture, and a right of common for all kinds of cattle'. Malone knew nothing of Mary Arden's property in Snitterfield, to which we have already referred, and, without it, he estimated that her fortune was equal to 1101. 13.5. 4d., which seems to us rather an under calculation of its actual value?. He also speculated, that at the time of their marriage John Shakespeare was twenty-seven years old, and Mary Arden eighteen’; but the truth is that we have not a particle of direct evidence upon the point. Had she been so young, it seems very unlikely that her father would have appointed her one of his executors in the pre

1 Shakspeare, by Boswell, vol. ii. p. 25.

* The terms of Robert Arden's bequest to his daughter Mary are these:—“Also I geve and bequeth to my youngste daughter, Marye, all my lande in Willmecote, called Asbyes, and the crop upon the ground, sowne and tyllede as hit is: and vjli. xiijs. iiijd. of money, to be payde over ere my goodes be devydede.” Hence we are not to understand that he had no more land in Wilmecote than Asbyes, but that he gave his daughter Mary all his land in Wilmecote, which was known by the name of Asbyes.

3 Shakspeare, by Boswell, vol. ii, p. 39.

ceding year, and we are inclined to think that she must have been of full age in Nov. 1556.

It was probably in contemplation of his marriage that, on 2d October, 1556, John Shakespeare became the owner of two copy-hold houses in Stratford, the one in Greenhill-street, and the other in Henley-street, which were alienated to him by George Turnor and Edward West, respectively: the house in Greenhill-street had a garden and croft attached to it, and the house in Henley-street only a garden; and for each he was to pay to the lord of the manor an annual rent of sixpencet. In 1557 he was again sworn as a juryman upon the court-leet, and in the spring of the following year he was amerced in the sum of fourpence for not keeping clean the gutter in front of his dwelling: Francis Burbage, the then bailiff, Adrian Quiney, “Mr. Hall, and Mr. Clopton” (so their names stand in the instrument) were each of them at the same time fined a similar sum for the same neglects. It is a point of little importance, but it is highly probable that John Shakespeare was first admitted a member of the corporation of Stratford in 1557, when he was made one of the ale-tasters of the town; and in Sept., 1558, he was appointed one of the four constables, his name following those of Humphrey Plymley, Roger Sadler, and John Taylorø. He continued constable in

4 We copy the following descriptions from the original borough-record, only avoiding the abbreviations, which render it less intelligible :

Item, quod Georgius Turnor alienavit Johanni Shakespere, fo. unum tenementum, cum gardin et croft, cum pertinentibus, in Grenehyll strete, fo.

Et quod Eduardus West alienavit predicto Johanni Shakespere unum tenementum, cum gardin adjacente, in Henley strete.

5 The original memorandum runs thus :

“ Francis Berbage, Master Baly that now ys, Adreane Quyny, Mr. Hall, Mr. Clopton, for the gutter alonge the chappell in Chappell Lane, John Shakspeyr, for not kepynge of their gutters cleane, they stand amerced." The sum which they were so amerced, 4d., is placed above the names of each of the parties.

6 The following are the terms used :-

“ Item, ther trysty and welbelovyd Humfrey Plymley, Roger Sadler, John Taylor, and John Shakspeyr, constabulles.”

1559, his associates then being John Taylor, William Tyler, and William Smith, and he was besides one of four persons, called affeerors, whose duty it was to impose fines upon their fellow-townsmen (such as he had himself paid in 1557) for offences against the byelaws of the borough.

CHAPTER II.

Death of John Shakespeare's eldest child, Joan. Two John Shakespeares

in Stratford. Amercements of members of the corporation. Birth and death of John Shakespeare's second child, Margaret. Birth of William Shakespeare: his birth-day, and the house in which he was born. The plague in Stratford. Contributions to the sick and poor by John Shakespeare and others. John Shakespeare elected alderman, and subsequently bailiff. Gilbert Shakespeare born. Another daughter, baptized Joan, born. Proofs that John Shakespeare could not write.

It was while John Shakespeare executed the duties of constable in 1558, that his eldest child, Joan, was born, having been baptized, as already stated, on the 15th September, of that year: she died in her infancy, and as her burial does not appear in the register of Stratford, she was, perhaps, interred at Snitterfield, where Richard Shakespeare, probably the father of John Shakespeare, still resided', as tenant to Agnes Arden, widow of Robert Arden, and mother of Mary Shakespeare. In respect to the registers of marriages, baptisms, and deaths at Stratford, some con

1 This fact appears from a lease, before noticed, granted on 21st May, 1560, by Mary Arden to Alexander Webbe, of two messuages, with a cottage, one of which is stated then to be in the occupation of Richard Shakespeare. We quote the terms of the original deed in the hands of the Shakespeare Society :“Wytnesseth, that the said Agnes Arderne, for dyverse and sundry consyderations, hath demysed, graunted, &c. to the said Alexander Webbe, and to his assignes, all those her two messuages, with a cottage, with all and singular their appurtenances in Snytterfeild, and a yarde and a halfe of ayrable lande thereunto belonging, &c., being in the towne and fyldes of Snytterfeild afforsaid: all which now are in the occupation of Richarde Shakspere, John Henley, and John Hargreve.” Of course this property formed part of the jointure of Agnes Arden, mentioned in the will of her husband.

fusion has been produced by the indisputable fact, that two persons of the name of John Shakespeare were living in the town at the same time, and it is not always easy to distinguish between the entries which relate to the one, or to the other : for instance, it was formerly thought that John Shakespeare, the father of the poet, had lost his first wife, Mary Arden, and had taken a second, in consequence of a memorandum in the register, showing that on the 25th Nov., 1584, John Shakespeare had married Margery Roberts : Malone, however, took great pains to prove, and may be said to have succeeded in proving, that this entry and others, of the births of Philip, Ursula, and Humphrey Shakespeare, relate to John Shakespeare, a shoemaker', and not to John Shakespeare the glover.

John Shakespeare was again chosen one of the four affeerors of Stratford in 1561, and the Shakespeare Society is in possession of the original presentation made by these officers on the 4th May in that year, the name of the father of our great dramatist coming last, after those of Henry Bydyll, Lewis ap William, and William Mynske. The most remarkable circumstance connected with it is the number of persons who were amerced in sums varying from 6s. 8d. to 2d. “ The bailiff that now is,” was fined 3s. 4d. for “breaking the assize,” he being a “common baker:" three other bakers were severally compelled to pay similar amounts on the same occasion, and for the same offence'. In September following the date of this re

> John Shakespeare, the shoe-maker, seems not to have belonged to the corporation, at all events, till many years afterwards, so that the confusion to which we have referred does not extend itself to any of the records of that body. After John Shakespeare, the father of our poet, had been bailiff, he is always called Mr. or Magister John Shakespeare; while the shoemaker, who married Margery Roberts, and was the father of Philip, Ursula, and Humphrey, is invariably styled only John Shakespeare. There is no trace of any relationship between the two.

3 The affeerors seem to have displayed unusual vigilance, and considerable severity: William Trout, Christopher Smythe, Maud Harbage, and John

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port John Shakespeare was elected one of the chamberlains of the borough, a very responsible post, in which he remained two years.

His second child, Margaret, or Margareta, (as the name stands in the register) was baptized on the 2d Dec. 1562, while he continued chamberlain. She was buried on 30th April, 15634.

The greatest event, perbaps, in the literary history of the world occurred a year afterwards— William Shakespeare was born. The day of his birth cannot be fixed with absolute certainty, but he was baptized on 26th April, 1564, and the memorandum in the register is precisely in the following form :

“ 1564. April 26. Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere.”

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So that whoever kept the book (in all probability the clerk) either committed a common clerical error, or was no great proficient in the rules of grammar. It seems most likely that our great dramatist had been brought into the world only three days before he was baptized", and it was then the custom to carry infants very early to the font. A house is still pointed out by tradition, in Henley-street, as that in which William Shakespeare first saw the light, and we have already shown that his father was the owner of two copy-hold dwellings in

Jamson were all find 33. 4d. “ for selling ale, and having and keeping gaming, contrary to the order of the Court:" eleven other inhabitants were amerced in smaller sums on the same ground. Robert Perrot was compelled to pay 6s. 8d. " for making and selling unwholesome ale."

* The registrations of her birth and death are both in Latin :-
“ 1562. December 2. Margareta filia Johannis Shakspere.”
“ 1563. April 30. Margareta filia Johannis Shakspere.

$ The inscription on his monument supports the opinion that he was born on the 23rd April: without the contractions it runs thus :

Obiit Anno Domini 1616.

Ætatis 53, die 23 Aprilis :" and this, in truth, is the only piece of evidence upon the point. Malone referred to the statement of the Rev. J. Greene, as an authority ; but he was master of the free-school at Stratford nearly two centuries after the death of Shakespeare, and, in all probability, spoke only from the tenor of the inscription in the church.

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