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tic 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 gră, &c. secundo et tercio, ibm tent. die Marcurii videlicet xvij die Junij ann. predict. coram Johne Burbage Balliuo, &c.
Thomas Siche de Arscotte in com. Wigorn. queritr versus John Shakyepere de Stretford in com. Warwic. Glou 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 is, as usual at the time, spelt with the letter u instead of V. 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.
We may 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) was resident at Snitterfield in 1550:1 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
1 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 ttage in Snitter
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 Sh:kespeare, the father of John, and the grandfather of William Shakespeare, was one of the tenants of Robert Arden.
Malone, not having the information we now possess before him, 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 Cuntlowe, in comitatu Warwici, field, in the occupation of Richard Shakespeare and two others. Malone discovered that there was also a Henry Shakespeare resident at Snitterfield in 1586, and he 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.
1 This is rendered the more probable by the fact that John Shakespeare christened one of his children (born in 1573) Richard. Malone found that another Richard Shakespeare was living at Rowington in 1574.
3 They are thus described : "Totum illud messuagium meum, et tres quartronas terræ, cum pratis eisdem pertinentibus, cum suis per: tinentiis, in Snytterfylde, quæ nunc sunt in tenura cujusdam Ricardi Henley, ac totum illud cottagium meum, cum, gardino et pomario adjacentibus, cum suis pertinentiis, in Snytterfyld, quæ nunc sunt in tenura Hugonis Porter." Adam Palmer, the other trustee, does not seem to have occupied any part of the property.
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 conveyed to trustees for the benefit of six of his daughters; and his freehold and copyhold estates in the parish of Aston Cantlowe could not have been inconsiderable. Sir John Arden, the brother of his grandfather, had been esquire of the body to Henry VII., and his nephew had been page of the bedchamber to the same monarch, who had bountifully rewarded their services and fidelity. Sir John Arden died in 1526, and it was his nephew, Robert Arden, who purchased of Rushby and his wife the estate in Spitterfield'in 1520. He was the father of the Robert Arden who died in 1556, and to whose seventh daughter, Mary, John Shakespeare was married.
No registration of that marriage has been discovered, but we need not hesitate in deciding that the ceremony took place in 1557. Mary Arden and her sister Alicia were certainly unmarried, when they were appointed “ executores” under their father's will, dated 24th Nov., 1556, and the probability seems to be that they were on that account chosen for the office, in preference to their five married sisters. Joan, the first child of John Shakespeare and his wife Mary, was baptized in the church of Stratfordupon-Avon on the 15th Sept.
, 1558," so that we may fix their union towards the close of 1557, about a year after the death of Robert Arden.
What were the circumstances of John Shakespeare at the time of his marriage, we can only conjecture. It has been shown that two years before that event, a claim of 8l. 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
1 The register of this event is in the following form, under the head “ Baptismes, Anno Dom. 1558 :"
“Septeber 15. Jone Shakspere daughter to John Shakspere." It seems likely that the child was named after her aunt, Joan, married to Edward Lambert of Barton on the Heath. Edward Lambert was related to Edmund Lambert, afterwards mentioned
warrant his union with the youngest of seven co-heiresses, who brought him some independent property.
Under her father's will she inherited 61. 138. 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. 138. 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 preceding 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 Greenhillstreet, 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 sixpence. 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 fiued a similar sum for the
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 yili. xiijs. ijijd. 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.
8 Shakspeare, by Boswell, vol. ii. p. 39.
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, &c. unum tenementum,cum gardin et croft,cum pertinentibus, in Grenehyll strete,&-c.
Et quod Edwardus West alienavit predicto Johanni Shakespere unum tenementum, cum gardin adjacente, in Henley strete.
same neglect.? 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 Taylor. He continued constable in 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 bye-laws 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
1 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.
The following are the terms used :"Item, ther trysty and welbelovyd Humfrey Plymley, Roger Sadler, John Taylor, and John Shakspeyr, constabulles.".
3 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 as signes, all those her two messuages, with a cottage, with all and