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It appears that Sir William Dethick, garter-king-at-arms in 1596 and 1599, was subsequently called to account for having granted coats to persons whose station in society and circumstances gave them no right to the distinction. The case of John Shakespeare was one of those complained of in this respect; and had Clarencieux Cooke really put his name in 1568-9 to any such patent as, it was asserted, had been exhibited to Sir William Dethick, a copy of it, or some record of it, would probably have remained in the office of arms in 1596; and the production of that alone, proving that he had merely acted on the precedent of Clarencieux Cooke, would, to a considerable extent at least, have justified Sir William Dethick. No copy, nor record, was however 80 produced, but merely a memorandum at the foot of the confirmation of 1596, that an original grant had been sent or shown, which memorandum may have been added when Sir William Dethick's conduct was called in question; and certain other statements are made at the bottom of the same document, which would be material to Garter's vindication, but which are not borne out by facts. One of these statements is, that John Shakespeare, in 1596, was worth 5001., an error certainly as regarded him, but a truth probably as regarded his son.
It is really a matter of little moment whether John Shakespeare did or did not obtain a grant of arms while he was bailiff of Stratford; but we are strongly inclined to think that he did not, and that the assertion that he did, and that he was worth 5001. in 1596, originated with Sir W. Dethick, when he subsequently wanted to make out his own vindication from the charge of having conceded arms to various persons without due caution and inquiry. The manner in which
coullors, supporting a speare gould steele as aforesaid, sett uppon a helmett with mantelles and tasselles as bath been accustomed.” In the exemplification the arms are stated as follows : "In a field of gould upon a bend sables a speare of the first, the poynt upward, hedded argent; and for his crest or cognisance, a falcon with his wyngs displayed, standing on a wrethe of his conllors, supporting a speare armed hedded or steeled sylver, fyxed upon a belmet, with mantelles and tasselles." In the confirmation, as well as in the exemplification, it is stated that the arms are “ depicted in the margin ;" and in the latter a reference is made to another escutcheon, in which the arms of Shakespeare are impaled with “ the auncyent arms of Arden of Wellingcote, signifying thereby that it maye and shall be lawfull for the said John Shakespeare, gent, to beare and use the same shield of arms, single, or impaled as aforesaid, during his naturall lyffe.” The motto, as given at the head of the confirmation, is
NON SANZ DROICT. For “ Arden of Wellingcote" the heralds should have said Arden of Wilmecote.
armorial bearings were allowed to persons whose rank and wealth did not entitle them to them was a subject of strong satire about the period when the confirmation in question was obtained : thus the following lines in Robert Wilson's “ Cobbler's Prophecy,” 4to, 1594 (a play already mentioned), are put into the mouth of a Herald; and the passage about “ bearing some office in a town,” which constitutes the supposed claim, reads almost as if it had a personal reference to John Shakespeare. The Herald says :
"We now are faine to wait who in wealth,
For what cannot the golden tempter doe?"-Sign. D 2. Ben Jonson, Marston, and Webster, ridicule the same practice, and the last especially points at one of his characters, who" had bought his gentry from the herald.” It would be easy to accumulate other proofs.
In 1570, when William Shakespeare was in his seventh year, his father was in possession of a field called Ingon, or Ington, meadow, within two miles of Stratford, which he held under William Clopton.
We cannot tell in what year he first rented it, because the instrument proving his tenancy, dated 11th June, 1581, only states the fact, that on 11th Dec., 1570, it was in his occupation. The annual pay. ment for it was 81., a considerable sum, certainly, for that time; but if there had been “a good dwelling-house and orchard” upon the field, as Malone conjectured, that circumstance would, in all probability, have been mentioned. We may presume that John Shakespeare employed it for agricultural purposes, but
upon this point we are without information : that he lived in Stratford at the time, we infer from the fact that on the 28th September, 1571, a second daughter, named Anne, was baptized at the parish-church. He had thus four children living, two boys and two girls, William,
• "Devil's Law Case," A. iv. sc. 2. In 1693 B. Rich, in his “Greene's Newes both from Heaven and Hell” (a very rare tract written in imitation of the style of the popular pamphleteer then just dead) represents St. Peter as refusing to admit those who had fraudulently, and for money, obtained this false testimonial of their gentility. Sign. B b.
• Malone (Shakspeare by Boswell, Vol. ii. p. 90) places reliance on the words of the close roll, (from which the information is derived,)“ with the appartenances;" but surely “a good dwelling-house and orchard” would have been specified, and not included in such general terms: they are not mere
Gilbert, Joan, and Anne, but the last died at an early age, having been buried on 4th April, 1579o. It will be remarked that, on the baptism of his daughter Anne, he was, for the first time, called “ Magister Shakespeare " in the Latin entry in the Register, a distinction he seems to have acquired by having served the office of bailiff two years before. The same observation will apply to the registration of his fifth child, Richard, who was baptized on 11th March, 1573-4, as the son of “ Mr. John Shakespeare'. Richard Shakespeare may have been named after his grandfather, who perhaps was sponsor on the occasion..
The increase of John Shakespeare's family seems, for some time, to have been accompanied by an increase of his means, and in 1574 he gave Edmund and Emma Hall 401. for two freehold houses, with gardens and orchards, in Henley-street'. It will not be forgotten that he was already the owner of a copyhold tenement in the same street, which he had bought of Edward West, in 1556, before his marriage with Mary Arden. To one of the two last-purchased dwellings John Shakespeare is supposed to have removed his family; but, for aught we know, he had lived from the time of his marriage, and continued to live in 1574, in the house in Henley-street, which had been alienated to him eighteen years before. It does not appear that he had ever parted with West's house, so that in 1574 he was the owner of three houses in Henleystreet. Forty pounds, even allowing for great difference in value of money, seems a small sum for the two freehold houses, with gardens and orchards, sold to him by Edmund and Emma Hall.
It is, we apprehend, indisputable that soon after this date the tide of John Shakespeare's affairs began to turn, and that he experienced disappointments and losses which seriously affected his pecuniary circumstances. Malone was in posses
• The following are copies of the registration of the baptism and burial of Anne Shakespeare:
“ 1571 Septēb' 28. Anna filia Magistri Shakspere.”
“1579 April 4. Anne daughter of Mr. John Shakspero." "The baptismal register runs thus:
“1573 March 11. Richard sonne to Mr. John Sbakspeer.” 8 Malone speculated (Shakspeare, by Boswell, Vol. ii. p. 106) that Richard Hill, an alderman of Stratford, had stood godfather to this child, but he did not know of the existence of any such person as Richard Shakespeare, who, there is ground to believe, was father to John Shakespeare.
O“ Malone's Shakspeare, by Boswell," Vol. č. p. 93.
sion of several important facts upon this subject, and recently a strong piece of confirmatory testimony has been procured. We will first advert to that which was in the hands of Malone, applicable to the beginning of 1578. At a borough hall on the 29th Jan, in that year, it was ordered that
alderman in Stratford should pay 68. 8d., and every burgess 3s. 4d. towards “the furniture of three pikemen, two billmen, and one archer.” Now, although John Shakespeare was not only an alderman, but had been chosen “head alderman" in 1571, he was allowed to contribute only 38. 4d., as if he had been merely a burgess: Humphrey Plymley, another alderman, paid 58., while John Walker, Thomas Brogden, and Anthony Turner contributed 2s. 6d. each, William Brace 2s. and Robert Bratt "nothing in this place.' It is possible that Bratt had been called
upon to furnish a subscription in some other place, or perhaps the words are to be taken to .mean, that he was excused altogether; and it is to be remarked that in the contribution to the poor in Sept. 1564, Bratt was the only individual who gave no more than fourpence. In November, 1578, when it was required that every alderman should “pay weekly to the relief of the poor 4d.,” John Shakespeare and Robert Bratt were excepted: they were “not to be taxed to pay any thing," while two others (one of them Alderman Plymley) were rated at 3d. a week. In March, 1578-9, when another call was made upon the town for the purpose of purchasing corslets, calivers, &c., the name of John Shakespeare is found, at the end of the account, in a list of persons whose "
sums were unpaid and unaccounted for.” Another fact tends strongly to the conclusion that in 1578 John Shakespeare was distressed for money : he owed a baker of the name of Roger Sadler 51., for which Edmund Lambert, and a person of the name of Cornishe, had become security : Sadler died, and in his will, dated 14th November, 1578, he included the following among the debts due to him:
Item of Edmund Lambert and Cornishe, for the debt of Mr. John Shacksper, 57."
Malone conjectured that Edmund Lambert was relation to Mary Shakespeare, and there can be little doubt of it, because an Edward Lambert had married her sister Joan Arden. To Edmund Lambert John Shakespeare, in 1578, mortgaged his wife's estate in Aston Cantlowe, called Asbyes, for 401., an additional circumstance to prove that he was in want of money; and so severe the pressure of his necessities
about this date seems to have boon, that in 1579 he parted with his wife's interest in two tenements in Snitterfield to Robert Webbe for the small sum of 41. This is a striking confirmation of John Shakespeare's embarrassments, with which Malone was not acquainted; but the original deed, with the bond for the fulfilment of covenants, (both bearing date the 15th Oct. 1579) subscribed with the distinct marks of John and Mary Shakespeare, and sealed with their respective seals, was in the hands of the Shakespeare Society'. His houses in Stratford descended to his son, but they may have been mortgaged at this period, and it is indisputable that John Shakespeare divested himself, in 1578 and 1579, of the landed property his wife had brought him, being in the end driven to the extremity of raising the trifting sum of 41. by the sale of her share of two messuages in Snitterfield'.
It has been supposed that he might not at this time reside in Stratford-upon-Avon, and that for this reason, he only contributed 38. 4d. for pikemen, &c., and nothing to the poor of the town, in 1578. This notion is refuted by the fact, that in the deed for the sale of his wife's property in Snitterfield to Webbe, in 1579, he is called “ John Shackspere of Stratford-upon-Avon," and in the bond for the performance of
It was at one time intended to print this and varlous other documents, illas. trative of the family and biography of our poet, at the expense of the Shakespeare Society; but the design was delayed, and the papers ultimately withdrawn before it could be carried into execution.
* The property is thus described in the indenture between Jobo Shakespeare and his wife, and Robert Webbe. For and in consideration of the sum of 41. in hand paid, they "give, graunte, bargayne, and sell unto the said Robert Webbe, his heires and assignes for ever, all that theire moitye, parte, and partes, be it more or lesse, of and in two messuages or tenementes, with thappurtendances, sett, lyinge and beynge in Spitterfield aforesaid, in the said county of Warwicke." The deed terminates thus :
“ In witnesse whereof the parties above said to these present indentures interchangeablie bave put their handes and sealos, the day and yeare fyrst above wrytten.
“The marke + of John Shackspere. The marke M of Marye Shackspere. " Sealed and delivered in the presens of
Nycholas Knoolles, Vicar of Anston,
baston, with other moe.' The seal affixed by John Shakespeare has his initials I. S. upon it, while that appended to the mark of his wife represents a rudely-engraved borse. The mark of Mary Shakespeare seems to have been intended for an uncouth imitation of the letter M. With reference to the word “moiety," used throughout the indenture, it is to be remembered that at its date the term did not, as now, imply half, but any part, or share. Shakespeare repeatedly so uses it: see Vol. üi. pp. 41. 372 ; Vol. v. p. 617; Vol. vi. pp. 527. 611.