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The summer of 1592 Essay

This essay will discuss, William Shakespeare’s life, his career, when he was born and died, biographical information, and his childhood. William Shakespeare was an English poet, His father, John Shakespeare, raised William to the best of his abilities… he made sure that William study and got into the best o schools, being that 1561 to 1563 he had been one of the two chamberlains to whom the finance of the town he was very trustworthy. By occupation he was a Glover, but he also appears to have dealt from time to time in various kinds of agricultural produce, such as barley, timber and wool.

He is sometimes described in formal documents as a yeoman, and it is highly probable that he combined a certain amount of farming with the practice of his trade. He was living in Stratford as early as 1552, in which year he was fined for having a dunghill in Henley Street, but he does not appear to have been a native of the town, in whose records the name is not found before his time; and be may reasonably be identified with the John Shakespeare of Snitterfield, who administered the goods of his father, Richard Shakespeare, in 1561.

Snitterfield is a village in the immediate neighborhood of Stratford, and here Richard Shakespeare had been settled as a farmer since 1529. It is possible that John Shakespeare carried on the farm for some time after his father’s death, and that by 1570 he had also acquired a small holding called Ingon in Hampton Lucy, the next village to Snitterfield. But both of these seem to have passed subsequently to his brother Henry, who was buried at Snitterfield in. 1596. There was also at Snitterfield a Thomas Shakespeare and an Anthony Shakespeare, who afterwards moved to Hampton Corley; and these may have been of the same family.

A John Shakespeare, -who dwelt at Clifford Chambers, another village close to Stratford, is clearly distinct. Strenuous efforts have been made to trace Shakespeare’s genealogy beyond Richard of Snitterfield, but so far without success. Certain drafts of heraldic exemplifications of the Shakespeare arms speak, in one case of John Shakespeare’s grandfather, in another of his great-grandfather, as having been rewarded with lands and tenements in Warwickshire for service to Henry VII.

No such grants, however, have been traced, and even in the 16th-century statements as to” antiquity and service “ in heraldic preambles were looked upon with suspicion. The name Shakespeare is extremely widespread, and is spelt in an astonishing variety of ways. That of John Shakespeare occurs 166 times in the Council Book of the Stratford corporation, and appears to take 16 different forms. The verdict, not altogether unanimous, of competent palaeographers is to the effect that Shakespeare himself, in the extant examples of his signature, always wrote “Shakspere.

” In the printed signatures to the dedications of his poems, on the title-pages of nearly all the contemporary editions of his plays that bear his name, and in many formal documents it appears as Shakespeare. This may be in part due to the martial derivation which the poet’s literary contemporaries were fond of assigning to his name, and which is acknowledged in the arms that he bore. The forms in use at Stratford, however, such as Shaxpeare, by far the commonest, suggest a short pronunciation of the first syllable, and thus tend to support Dr Henry Bradley’s derivation from the Anglo-Saxon personal name, Seaxberht.

It is interesting, and even amusing, to’ record that in 1487 Hugh Shakspere of Merton College, Oxford, changed his name to Sawndare, because his former name vile reputatum est. The earliest record of a Shakespeare that has yet been traced is in 1248 at Clapton in G]oucester~ shire, about seven miles from Stratford. The name also occurs during the ,3th century in Kent, Essex and Surrey, and durin~ the I4th in Cumberland, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Essex, Warwickshire and as far away as Yougbal in Ireland.

Thereafter it is found in London and most of the English counties, particularly those of the midlands; and nowhere more freely than in Warwickshire. There were Shakespeares in Warwick and in Coventry, as well as around Stratford; and the clan appears to have been very numerous in a group of villages about twelve miles north of Stratford, which includes Baddesley Clinton, Wroxall, Rowington, I{aseley, Hatton, Lapworth, Packwood, Balsall and Knowle.

William was in common use as a personal name, and Williams from more than one other family have from time to time been confounded with the dramatist. Many Shakespeares are upon the register of the gild of St Anne at Knowle from about 1457 to about 1526. Amongst these were Isabella Shakespeare, prioress of the Benedictine convent of Wroxall, and Jane Shakespeare, a nun of the same convent. Shakespeares are also found as tenants on the manors belonging to the convent, and at the time of the Dissolution in 1534 one Richard Shakespeare was its bailiff and collector of rents.

Conjectural attempts have been made on the one hand to connect the ancestors of this Richard Shakespeare with ‘a family of the same name who held land by military tenure at Baddesley Clinton in the 14th and 15th centuries, and on usc other to ideniify him with the poet’s grandfather, Richard Shakespeare of’ Snitterfield. But Shakespeares are to be traced at Wroxall nearly as far back as at Baddesley Clinton, and there is no reason to suppose that Richard the bailiff, who was certainly still a tenant of Wroxall in 1556, had also since 1529 been farming land ten miles off at Snitterfield.

With the breaking of this link, the hope of giving Shakespeare anything more than a grandfather on the father’s side must be laid aside for the present. On the mother’s side he was connected with a family of some distinction. Part at least of Richard Shakespeare’s land at Snitterfield was held from Robert Arden of Wilmcote in the adjoining parish of Aston Cantlow, a cadet of the Ardens of Parkhall, who counted amongst the leading gentry of Warwickshire.

Robert Arden married his second wife, Agnes Hill, formerly Webbe, in 1548, and had then no less than. eight daughters by his first wife. To the youngest of these, Mary Arden, he left in 1556 a freehold in Aston Cantlow consisting of a farm of about fifty or sixty acres in extent, known as Asbies. At some date later than November 1556, and probably before the end of 1557, Mary Arden became the wife of John Shakespeare. In October 1556 John Shakespeare had bought two freehold houses, one in Greenhill Street, the other in Henley Street.

The latter, known as the wool shop, was the easternmost of the two tenements now combined in the so-called Shakespeare’s birthplace. The western tenement, the birthplace proper, was probably already in John Shakespeare’s hands, as he seems to have been living in Henley Street in 1552. It has sometimes been thought to have been one of two houses which formed a later purchase in 1575, but there is no evidence that these were in Henley Street at all. William Shakespeare was not the first child.

A Joan was baptized in 1558 and a Margaret in 1562. The latter was buried in 1563 and the former must also have died young, although her burial is not recorded, as a second Joan was baptized in 1569. A Gilbert was baptized in 1566, an Anne in 1571, a Richard in ~ and a~ Edmunc~l 01 1580. e~nne died in ~7o; Edmund,who like his brother became an actor, in 1607; Richard in 1613. Tradition has it that one of Shakespeare’s brothers used to visit London in the 17th century as quite an old man. If so, this can only have been Gilbert.

During the years that followed his marriage, John Shakespeare became prominent in Stratford life. In 1565 he was chosen as an alderman, and in 1568 he held the chief municipal office, that of high bailiff. This carried with it the dignity of justice of the peace. John Shakespeare seems to have assumed arms, and thenceforward was always entered in corporation documents as “Mr” Shakespeare, whereby he may be distinguished from another John Shakespeare, a “corviser” or shoemaker, who dwelt in Stratford about 1584—1592.

In 1571 as an ex-bailiff be began another year of office as chief alderman . One may think, therefore, of Shakespeare in his boyhood as the son of one of the leading citizens of a not unimportant Youth provincial market-town, with a vigorous life of its own, which in spite of the dunghills was probably not much unlike the life of a similar town to-day, and with constant reminders of its past in the shape of the stately buildings formerly belonging to its college and its gild, both of which had been suppressed at the Reformation.

Stratford stands on the Avon, in the midst of an agricultural country, throughout which in those days enclosed orchards and meadows alternated with open fields for tillage, and not far from the wilder and wooded district known as the Forest of Arden. The middle ages had left it an heritage in the shape of a free grammar-school, and here it is natural to suppose that William Shakespeare obtained a sound enough education,i with a working knowledge of “Mantuan”2 and Ovid in the original, even though to such a thorough scholar as Ben Jonson it might seem no more than “small Latin and less Greek.

” In 1577, when Shakespeare was about thirteen, his father’s fortunes began to take a turn for the worse. He became irregular in his contributions to town levies, and had to give a mortgage on his wife’s property of Asbies as security for a loan from her brother-in-law, Edmund Lambert. Money was raised to pay this off, partly by the sale of a small interest in land at Snitterfield which had come to Mary Shakespeare from her sisters, partly perhaps by that of the Greenhill Street house and other property in Stratford outside Henley Street, none of which seems to have ever come into William Shakespeare’s hands.

Lambert, however, refused to surrender the mortgage on the plea of older debts, and an attempt to recover Asbies by litigation proved ineffectual. John Shakespeare’s difficulties increased. An action for debt was sustained against him in the local court, but no personal property could be found on which to distrain. He had long ceased to attend the meetings of the corporation, and as a consequence he was removed in 2586 from the list of aldermen. In this state of domestic affairs it is not likely that Shakespeare’s school life was unduly prolonged. The chances are that he was apprenticed to some local trade.

Aubrey says that he killed calves for his father, and “would do it in a high style, and make a speech. ” Whatever his circumstances, they did not deter him at the early age of eighteen from the adventure of marriage. Rowe Marriage recorded the name of Shakespeare’s wife as Hathaway, and Joseph Greene succeeded in tracing her to a family of that name dwelling in Shottery, one of the hamlets of Stratford. Her monument gives her first name as Anne, and her age as sixty-seven in 1623. She must, therefore, have been about eight years older than Shakespeare.

Various small trains of evidence point to her identification with the daughter Agnes mentioned in the will of a Richard Hathaway of Shottery, who died in 1581, being then in possession of the farm-house now known as “ Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. ” Agnes was legally a distinct name from Anne, but there can be no doubt that ordinary custom treated them as identical. The principal record of the i It is worth noting that Walter Roche, who in 1558 became fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was master of the school in 1570—1572, so that its standard must have been good.

2 Baptista Mantuanus (1448—1516), whose Latin Eclogues were translated by Turberville in 1567. marriage is a bond dated on November 28, 2582, and executed by Fulk Sandells and John Richardson, two yeomen of Stratford who also figure in Richard Hathaway’s will, as a security to the bishop for the issue of a licence for the marriage of William Shakespeare and “Anne Hathwey of Stratford,” upon the consent of her friends, with one asking of the banns.

There is no reason to suppose, as has been suggested, that the procedure adopted was due to dislike of the marriage dn the part of John Shakespeare, since, the bridegroom being a minor, it would not have been in accordance with the practice of the bishop’s officials to issue the licence without evidence of the father’s consent. The explanation probably lies in the fact that Anne was already with child, and in the near neighbourhood of Advent within which marriages were prohibited, so that the ordinary procedure by banns would have entailed a delay until after Christmas.

A kindly sentiment has suggested that some form of civil marriage, or at least contract of espousals, had already taken place, so that a canonical marriage was really only required in order to enable Anne to secure the legacy left her by her father “at the day of her marriage. ” But such a theory is not rigidly required by the facts. It is singular that, upon the day before that on which the bond was executed, an entry was made in the bishop’s register of the issue of a licence for a marriage between William Shakespeare and” Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton.

” Of this it can only be said that the bond, as an original document, is infinitely the better authority, and that a scribal error of “ Whateley “ for “Hathaway “-is quite a possible solution. Temple Grafton may have been the nominal place of marriage indicated in the licence, which was not always the actual place of residence of either bride or bridegroom. There are no contemporary registers for Temple Grafton, and there is no entry of the marriage in those for Stratford-uponAvon.

There is a tradition that such a record was seen during the I9th century in the registers for Luddirigton, a chapelry within the parish, which are now destroyed. Shakespeare’s first child, Susanna, was baptized on the 26th of May 1583, and was followed on the 2nd of February 1585 by twins, Hamnet and Judith. In or after 1584 Shakespeare’s career in Stratford seems to have come to a tempestuous close. An 18th-century story of a drinking-bout in a neighbouring village is of no Obsce,~~ importance, except as indicating a local impression years, that a distinguished citizen had had a wildish youth.

1584 But there is a tradition which comes from a double 1592, source and which there is no reason to reject in substance, to the effect that Shakespeare got into trouble through poaching on the estates of a considerable Warwickshire magnate, Sir Thomas Lucy, and found it necessary to leave Stratford in order to escape the results of his misdemeanour. It is added that he afterwards took his revenge on Lucy by satirizing him as the Justice Shallow, with the dozen white louses in his old coat, of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

From this event until he emerges as an actor and rising playwright in 1592 his history is a blank, and it is impossible to say what experience may not have helped to fill it. Much might indeed be done in eight years of crowded Elizabethan life. Conjecture has not been idle, and has assigned him in turns during this or some other period to the occupations of a scrivener, an apothecary, a dyer, a printer, a soldier, and the like. The suggestion that he saw military service rests largely on a confusion with another William Shakespeare of Rowington. Aubrey had heard that “he had been in his younger years a sthoolmaster in the country.

” The mention in Henry IV. of certain obscure yeomen families, Visor of Woncote and Perkes of Stinchcombe Hill, near Dursley in Gloucestershire, has been thought to suggest a sojourn in that district, where indeed Shakespeares were to be found from an early date. Ultimately, of course, he drifted to London and the theatre, where, according to the stage tradition, he found employment in a menial capacity, perhaps even as a holder of horses at the doors, before he was admitted into a company as an actor and so found his way to his true vocation as a writer of plays.

Malone thought that he might have left Stratford with one of the travelling companies of players which from time to time visited the town. Later biographers have fixed upon Leicester’s men, who were at Stratford in 1587, and have held that Shakespeare remained to the end in the same company, passing with it on Leicester’s death in 1588 under the patronage of Ferdinando, Lord Strange and afterwards earl of Derby, and on Derby’s death in 1594 under that of the lord chamberlain, Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon.

This theory perhaps hardly takes sufficient account of the shifting combinations and recombinations of actors, especially during the disastrous plague years of 1592 to 1594. The continuity of Strange’s company with Leicester’s is very disputable, and while the names of many members of Strange’s company in and about 1593 are on record, Shakespeare’s is not amongst them. It is at least possible, as will be seen later, that he had about this time relations with the earl of Pembroke’s men, or with the earl of Sussex’s men, or with both of these organizations. What is clear is that by the summer of 1592, when.

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