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THE LIFE

OF

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

CHAPTER I.

No Shakespeare advanced or rewarded by Henry VII. Antiquity of the Shake

speares in Warwickshire, &c. Richard Shakespeare of Rowington and his family. Earliest occurrence of the name at Stratford-upon-Avon. The Trade of Jobo Shakespeare. Richard Shakespeare of Snitterfield, probably father to John Shakespeare, and certainly tenant to Robert-Arden, father of Jobu Shakespeare's wife. Robert Arden's seven daughters. Antiquity and property of the Arden family. Marriage of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden : their circumstances. Purchase of two houses in Stratford by John Shakespeare.

His progress in the Corporation. It has been supposed that some of the paternal ancestors of William Shakespeare were advanced, and rewarded with lands and tenements in Warwickshire, for services rendered to Henry VII. The rolls of that reign have been recently most carefully searched, and the name of Shakespeare, according to any mode of spelling it, does not occur in them.

Many Shakespeares were resident in different parts of Warwickshire, as well as in some of the adjoining counties, at an early date. The register of the Guild of St. Anne of Knolle, or Knowle, beginning in 1407 and ending in 1535, when it was dissolved, contains various repetitions of the name, during the reigns of Henry VI., Edward IV., Richard III.’, Henry VII., and Henry VIII.: we there find a Thomas

'On the aathority of a grant of arms from the Heralds' College to Jobo Shakespeare, which circumstance is considered hereafter.

It may. be regarded as a singular coincidence, and we can consider it as nothing more, that there was a person of the name of Peter Shakespere (so the name is spelt) who was probably a resident in the very scene of our poet's glory,

Shakespere of Balishalle, or Balsal, Thomas Chacsper and John Shakespeyre of Rowington, Richard Shakspere of Woldiche, together with Joan, Jane, and William Shakespeare, of places not mentioned: an Isabella Shakspere is also there stated to have been priorissa de Wraxale in the 19th Henry VII.' The Shakespeares of Wroxal, of Rowington, and of Balsal, are mentioned by Malone, as well as other persons of the same name at Claverdon and Hampton. He .carries back his information regarding the Shakespeares of Warwick no higher than 1602, but a William Shakespeare was drowned in the Avon near Warwick in 1574, a John Shakespeare was resident on “the High Pavement” in 1578, and a Thomas Shakespeare dwelt in the same place in 1585*.

Respecting the Shakespeares of Rowington we have some additional information, which proves that there was a Richard Shakespeare resident there before 1591: on the 6th of September in that year he made his will, which was proved in the court of the Bishop of Worcester on the 31st March, 1592, and from it we learn that his youngest son was named William, and that he had other sons of the names of John, Roger, and Thomas, and a daughter Dorothy, married to a person of the name of Jenkes : the Christian name of his wife was Johane or Joan. The total value of his property, according to the inventory at the end of his will, was only 191. 6s. 8d. and the smallness of the legacies to his children, viz. 6d. and 4d. each, serves to show that his circumstances were by no means affluent.

Southwark, as early as the first year of Richard III. The Cordwainers' Company of London is in possession of a deed, dated 16 Feb. anno regni Regis Ricardi tertii post conquestum primo, by which John Freeman granted to Richard Elderton and others the hospicium vocatum le Greyhounde situated in Horseshoe Alley, Bankside, Southwark. This document is witnessed, among others, by Peter Shakespere, but his place of abode is not given, though we may, perhaps, presume that it was not far from the spot in question. The date is of course more than a hundred years anterior to the known residence of our poet on the Bankside, and we are not disposed to advance any speculation founded upon possible relationship. For a knowledge of the circumstance we gladly admit our obligations to G. R. Corner, Esq. F.S.A., and to Mr. Millard, Clerk of the Cordwainers' Company, through whom we have been kindly furnished with a copy of the deed. The identity of names and locality is remarkable.

3 For this information we are indebted to Mr. Staunton, of Longbridge House, near Warwick, the owner of the original Registerium Fratrum et Sororum Gilde Sancte Anne de Knolle, a MS. upon vellum.

- The circumstance of the drowning of the namesake of our poet was discovered by the Rev. Joseph Hunter. Mr. Charles Dickens was good enough to be the medium of the information respecting the Shakespeares of Warwick, trang. : mitted from Mr. Sandys, who derived it from the land-revenue records of the respective periods.

The earliest date at which we hear of a Shakespeare in the borough of Stratford-upon-Avon is 17th June, 1555, when Thomas Sichė instituted a proceeding in the court of the bailiff, for the recovery of the sum of 81. from John Shakespeare, who has always been taken to be the father of our great dramatist. Thomas Siche was of Arlescote, or Arscotte, in Worcestershire, and in the Latin record of the suit John Shakespeare is called “glover,” in English. Taking it for granted, as we have every reason to do, that this John Shakespeare was the father of the poet, the document satisfied Malone that he was a glover, and not a butcher, as Aubrey had affirmed', nor a dealer in wool, as Rowe had stated ”. We think that Malone was right, and the testimony is unquestionably more positive and authentic than the traditions to which we have referred. As it is also the most ancient piece of direct evidence connected with the establishment of the Shakespeare family at Stratford, and as Malone did not copy it quite accurately from the register of the bailiff's court, we quote it as it there stands :

“Stretford, ss. Cur. Phi. et Mariæ Dei gra, &c. secundo et tercio, ibm tent. die Marcuri videlicet zvij die Junij ann. predict. coram Jobne Burbage Balliuo, &c.

Thomas Siche de Arscotte in com. Wigorn. querits versus John Shakyspere de Stretford in com. Warwick. Gloù in plac. quod reddat ei oct. libras &c."

John Shakespeare's trade, “ glover,” is expressed by the common contraction for the termination of the word; and it

'These new particulars regarding the Shakespeares of Rowington, were kindly communicated by Mr. Markbam Thorpe.

Aubrey's words, in his MS. in the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford, are these : -"William Shakespeare's father was a butcher, and I have been told heretofore by some of the neighbours, that when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade; but when he killed a calf, he would do it in a high style, and make a speech.” This tradition certainly does not read like truth, and at what date Aubrey obtained his information has not been ascertained : Malone conjectured that Aubrey was in Stratford about 1680 : he died about 1700, and, in all probability, obtained his knowledge from the same source as the writer of a letter, dated April 10, 1693, to Mr. Edward Southwell, printed in 1838. It appears from hence that the parish clerk of Stratford, who was “above eighty years old” in 1693, had told Mr. Edward Southwell's correspondent that William Shakespeare had been “ bound apprentice to a butcher;" but he did not say that his father was a butcher, nor did he add any thing as absurd as Aubrey subjoins, respecting the killing of a calf

! " Some Account,” &c. 1709, p. ii. Rowe is supposed to have derived his materials from Betterton, who died in 1710, and who went to Stratford to collect such particulars as could be obtained : the date of his visit is not known.

“ in a high style."

We may

is, as usual at the time, spelt with the letter y instead of 0. It deserves remark also, that although John Shakespeare is often subsequently mentioned in the records of the corporation of Stratford, no addition ever accompanies his name. presume that in 1556, he was established in his business, because on the 30th April of that year he was one of twelve jurymen of a court-leet. His name in the list was at first struck through with a pen, but underneath it the word stet was written, probably by the town-clerk. Thus we find him in 1556 acting as a regular trading inhabitant of the borough of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Little doubt can be entertained that he came from Snitterfield, three miles from Stratford; and upon this point we have several new. documents before us. It appears from them, that a person of the name of Richard Shakespeare (no where before mentioned, though the same names have occurred as of Rowington) was resident at Snitterfield in 1550': he was tenant of a house and land belonging to Robert Arden (or Ardern, as the name was anciently spelt, and as it stands in the papers in our hands) of Wilmecote, in the parish of Aston Cantlowe. By a conveyance, dated 21st Dec., 11th Henry VIII., we find that Robert Arden then became possessed of houses and land in Snitterfield, from Richard Rushby and his wife: from Robert Arden the property descended to his son, and it was part of this estate which was occupied by Richard Shakespeare in 1550. We have no distinct evidence upon the point; but if we suppose Richard Shakespeare of Snitterfield to have been the father of John Shakespeare of Stratford', who married Mary Arden, the youngest daughter of Robert Arden, it will easily and naturally explain the manner in which John Shakespeare became introduced to the family of the Ardens, inasmuch as Richard Shakespeare, the father of John, and the grandfather of William Shakespeare, was one of the tenants of Robert Arden.

8 In 1569, a person of the name of Antony Shakespeare lived at Snitterfield, and, as we learn from the Muster-book of the county of Warwick for that year in the State Paper office, he was appointed a “billman."

• Richard Shakespeare, who, upon this supposition, was the grandfather of the poet, was living in 1560, when Agnes Arden, widow, granted a lease for forty years to Alexander Webbe (probably some member of her own family) of two houses and a cottage in Snitterfield, in the occupation of Richard Shakespeare and two others. Malone discovered that there was also a Henry Shakespeare resident at Snitterfield in 1586, and be apprehended (there is little doubt of the fact) that he was the brother of John Shakespeare. Henry Shakespeare was buried Dec. 29th, 1596. There was also a Thomas Shakespeare in the same village in 1582, and he may have been another brother of John Shakespeare, and all three sons to Richard Shakespeare. The Richard Shakespeare of Snitterfield in 1550 and 1560, may have been the same person as the Richard Shakespeare of Rowington, who died there in 1591. Perhaps he had removed to Rowington.

· This is rendered the more probable by the fact that John Shakespeare

Malone, not having before him the information we now possess, was of opinion that Robert Arden, who married Agnes Webbe, and died in 1556, had only four daughters, but the fact undoubtedly is that he had at least seven. On the 7th and 17th July, 1550, he executed two deeds, by which he made over to Adam Palmer and Hugh Porter, in trust for some of his daughters, certain lands and tenements in Snitterfield'. In these deeds he mentions six daughters by name, four of them married and two single ;-viz. Agnes Stringer (who had been twice married, first to John Hewyns), Joan Lambert, Katherine Etkins, Margaret Webbe, Jocose Arden, and Alicia Arden. Mary, his youngest daughter, was not included, and it is possible that he had either made some other provision for her, or that, by a separate and subsequent deed of trust, he gave to her an equivalent in Snitterfield for what he had made over to her sisters. It is quite certain, as will be seen hereafter, that Mary Arden brought property in Snitterfield, as part of her fortune, to her husband John Shakespeare.

Although the Ardens were an ancient and considerable family in Warwickshire, which derived its name from the forest of Arden, or Ardern, in or near which they had possessions, Robert Arden, in the two deeds above referred to, which were of course prepared at his instance, is only called “husbandman :"_" Robertus Ardern de Wilmecote, in parochia de Aston Cantlowe, in comitatu Warrici, husbandman."

Nevertheless, it is evident from his will (dated 24th November, and proved on the 17th December, 1556) that he was a man of good landed estate. He mentions his wife's "jointure in Snitterfield,” payable, no doubt, out of some other property than that which, a few years before, he had christened one of his children (born in 1573) Richard. a Richard Shakespeare was living at Rowington in 1574.

. They are thus described : “ Totum illud messuagium meum, et tres quartronas terræ, cum pratis eisdem pertinentibus, cum suis pertinentiis, in Snytter. fylde, quæ nunc sunt in lenura cujusdam Ricardi Henley, ac totum illud cottagium meum, cum gardino et pomario adjacentibus, cum suis pertinentiis, in Snytterfyld, quæ nunc sunt in tenura Hugonis Porler."

Adam Palmer, the other trustee, does not seem to have occupied any part of the property.

Malone found that

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