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Shakespeare “were for their valiant and faithful services advanced and rewarded of the most prudent prince, Henry the Seventh ;" but, as has been before stated, on examining the rolls of that reign, we can discover no trace of advancement or reward to any person of the name of Shakespeare. It is true that the Ardens, or Arderns, were so “advanced and rewarded;" and these, though not strictly the parents," were certainly the “antecessors” of William Shakespeare. In 1599, an exemplification of arms was procured, and in this document it is asserted that the “great grandfather” of John Shakespeare had been “advanced and rewarded with lands and tenements” by Henry VII. Our poet's “great grandfather," by the mother's side, was 80 " advanced and rewarded ;" and we know that he did “ faithful and approved service” to that “ most prudent prince.”
Another point, though one of less importance, is, that it is stated, in a note at the foot of the confirmation of 1596, that John Shakespeare “ showeth” a patent “ under Clarence Cooke's hand:” the word seems originally to have been sent, over which "showeth” was written: if the original patent, under Cooke's hand, had been sent to the Heralds' College in 1596, there could have been little question about it; but the substituted word “showeth” is more indefinite, and may mean only, that the party applying for the confirmation alleged that Cooke had granted such a coat of arms". That William Shakespeare could not have procured a grant of arms for himself in 1596 is highly probable, from the fact that he was an actor, (a profession then much looked down upon) and not of a rank in life to entitle him to it: he, therefore, may have very fairly and properly put forward his father's name and claims as having been bailiff of Stratford, and a “justice of peace," and coupled that fact with the deserts and rewards of the Ardens under Henry VII., one of whom was his maternal present Garter King at Arms, for the trouble he took in minutely collating Malone's copies with the documents themselves. Other errors he pointed out do not require particular notice, as they apply to parts of the instruments not necessary for our argument. * Robert Ardern had two offices conferred upon him by Henry VII., in the 10th and 17th years of his reign; and he is spoken of in the grants as unus garcionum camere nostre : the one office was that of keeper of the park at Aldercar, and the other that of bailiff of the lordship of Cod nor, and keeper of the park there. He obtained a grant of lands in 23 Henry VII.; viz. the large manor of Yoxsall, in the county of Stafford, on condition of a payment of a rent to the king of 421. per annum.
2 The word "showeth” is thus employed in nearly every petition, and it is only there equivalent to stateth, or setteth forth. The assertion that such a grant had been alleged was, probably, that of the heralds.
« great grandfather,” and all of whom, by reason of the marriage of his father with an Arden, were his "antecessors."
We only doubt whether John Shakespeare obtained any grant of arms, as has been supposed, in 1568-9; and it is to be observed that the documents relating to this question, still preserved in the Heralds' College, are full of correc tions and interlineations, particularly as regards the ancestors of John Shakespeare: we are persuaded that when William Shakespeare applied to the office in 1596, Garter of that day, or his assistants, made a confusion between the “great grandfather" and the “ antecessors” of John, and of William Shakespeare. What is stated, both in the confirmation and exemplification, as to parentage and descent, is true as regards William Shakespeare, but erroneous as regards John Shakespeare'.
It appears that Sir William Dethick, garter-king-atarms 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,
i The confirmation and the exemplification differ slightly as to the mode in which the arms are set out: in the former it is thus : " I have therefore assigned, graunted, and by these have confirmed, this shield or cote of arms, viz. gould, on a bend sable and a speare of the first, the point steeled, proper; and for his crest or cognizance a faulcon, his wings displayed, argent, standing on a wrethe of his coullors, supporting a speare gould steele as aforesaid, sett uppon a helmett with mantelles and tasselles as hath 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 coullors, supporting a speare armed hedded or steeled sylver, fyxed upon a helmet, 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 confir pation, is
NON SANZ DROICT. For “Arden of Wellingcote" the heralds should have said Arden of Wilmecote.
Shakespeare” in the Latin entry in the Register, a distinotion 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 of Snitterfield, 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 Henley-street. 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 possession 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 every 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 i The baptismal register runs thus :
"1573 March 11. Richard sonne to Mr. John Shakspeer.” 2 Malone speculated (Shakspeare, by Boswell, vol. ii. p. 106,) that Richard Hill, an alderman of Stratford, had stood godfather to this child, but he was not aware of the existence of any such person as Richard Shakespeare, of Snitterfield, who, there is good ground to believe, was father to John Shakespeare.
3 “Malone's Shakspeare, by Boswell," vol. ii. p. 93.
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 contribution 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 conciusion 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, 51."
Malone conjectured that Edmund Lambert was some relation to Mary Shakespeare, and there can be little doubt of it, as an Edward Lambert had married her sister Joan Arden. To Edmund Lambert John Shakespeare, in 1578, mortgaged his wife's estate in Ashton 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 been, 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 15th Oct. 1579) subscribed with the distinct marks of John and Mary Shakespeare, and sealed with their respective seals, is 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