Tag Archives: John Shakespeare
Evidence of the Shakespeares and the wool trade: John Shakespeare named in the PRO

Shakespeare For Fear of Death 3

‘As for an authentic villain, the real thing, the absolute, the artist, one rarely meets him even once in a lifetime. The ordinary bad hat is always in part a decent fellow.’ Colette William Ingram in his 1978 biography of Francis Langley, A London Life in the Brazen Age, described the builder of the Swan […]

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Shakespeare For Fear of Death 2

“England. Be it known that William Shakspere, Francis Langley, Dorothy Soer wife of John Soer, and Anne Lee, for fear of death…”. King’s Bench, Controlment Roll, Michaelmas Term 1596, K.B. 29/234: In the England of 1596 those fearful of “death or mutilations” could appeal to the judicial process to head off a potential attack. In […]

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Everything to declare – except my genius

‘not beneath him in fortunes, beyond him in the advantage of the time, above him in birth, alike conversant in general services, and more remarkable…’ Cymbeline 4.1. In Edgar Fripp’s introductions to the first four volumes of the Minutes and Accounts of the Corporation of Stratford-upon-Avon the reader grapples with the minutiae of the lives […]

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John Shakespeare Behind the Parapet

‘Cry ‘Courage! to the field!’ And thou hast talk’d Of sallies and retires, of trenches, tents, Of palisadoes, frontiers, parapets’ Henry IV Part 1, 2.3. A Tudor Statute of 1523 required commissioners to return nominal listings of all those taxed to the Exchequer. This followed a joint “muster” and fiscal assessment of the previous year. […]

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John Shakespeare, The Hedgehog

‘You spotted snakes with double tongue, Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2.2 Edgar Fripp (1861 – 1931) once described “Alderman [John] Shakespeare” as being “curled up like a hedgehog at the approach of the dog”. Fripp, seeing the world, as he did, through a lens of strict Protestant belief, thought John’s […]

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Shakespeare and the Pantomime Cat

“Could not you be contented, as well as others, with the legend of Whittington…” The Knight of the Burning Pestle, by Beaumont & Fletcher, 1613 The legend is that young Will Shakespeare, like a pantomime Dick Whittington, left his poverty-stricken family, walked to London and won his fortune entirely through his own efforts. I would […]

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How did Shakespeare make his money?

‘Shakespeare (whom you and every playhouse bill Style the divine! the matchless! what you will), For gain, not glory, wing’d his roving flight, And grew immortal in his own despite…’ Alexander Pope, 1737. Peter Thomson called ambiguity “a happy hunting ground for the critic” and ambiguity is still maintained by many around the life of […]

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Shakespearian Popery?

The Pope’s visit to England makes this seem a suitable time to look again at the old question about whether Shakespeare’s father John Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic. If the Pope of his day had sailed up the Thames to meet the Queen (prior to her excommunication in 1570, when she became fair game for […]

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