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When I was invited to reprint in book-form the articles which had appeared in the Genealogical Magazine under the titles of "Shakespeare's Family" and the "Warwickshire Ardens," I carefully corrected them, and expanded them where expansion could be made interesting. Thus to the bald entries of Shakespeare's birth and burial I added a short life. Perhaps never before has anyone attempted to write a life of the poet with so little allusion to his plays and poems.
My reason is clear; it is only the genealogical details of certain Warwickshire families of which I now treat, and it is only as an interesting Warwickshire gentleman that the poet is here included. Much of the chaotic nonsense that has of late years been written to disparage his character and contest his claims to our reverence and respect are based on the assumption that he was a man of low origin and of mean occupation. I deny any relevance to arguments based on such an assumption, for genius is restricted to no class, and we have a Burns as well as a Chaucer, a Keats as well as a Gower, yet I am glad that the result of my studies tends to prove that it is but an unfounded [Pg vi] assumption.
By the Spear-side his family was at least respectable, and by the Spindle-side his pedigree can be traced straight back to Guy of Warwick and the good King Alfred. There is something in fallen fortune that lends a subtler romance to the consciousness of a noble ancestry, and we may be sure this played no small part in the making of the poet.
All that bear his name gain a certain interest through him, and therefore I have collected every notice I can find of the Shakespeares, though we are all aware none can be his descendants, and that the family of his sister can alone now enter into the poet's pedigree with any degree of certainty. The time for romancing has gone by, and nothing more can be done concerning the poet's life except through careful study and through patient research. All students must regret that their labours have such comparatively meagre .
Though sharing in this regret, I have been able, besides adding minor details, to find at last a definite link of association between the Park Hall and the Wilmcote Ardens; and I have located a John Shakespeare in St. Clement's Danes, Strand, London, who is probably the poet's cousin. I have also somewhat cleared the ground by checking errors, such as those made by Halliwell-Phillipps, concerning John Shakespeare, of Ingon, and Gilbert Shakespeare, Haberdasher, of London see I hope that every contribution to our store of real knowledge may bring forward new suggestions and additional facts.
In regard to his mother's family, I thought it important to clear the earlier connections. But it must not be forgotten that until modern times no [Pg vii] Shakespeare but himself was connected with the Ardens. Yet, having commenced with the family, I may be pardoned for adding to their history before the sixteenth century the few notes I have gleaned concerning the later branches. The order I have preferred has been chronological, limited by the advisability of completing the notices of a family in special localities.
Disputed questions I have placed in chapters apart, as they would bulk too largely in a short biography to be proportionate. Hence the Coat of Arms and the Arden Connections are treated as family matters, apart from John Shakespeare's special biography. I have done what I could to avoid mistakes, and neither time nor trouble has been spared.
I owe thanks to many who have helped me in my long-continued and careful researches, to the officials of the British Museum and the Public Record Office, to the Town Council of Stratford-on-Avon and Mr. Savage, Secretary of the Shakespeare Trust, to the Worshipful Company of the Haberdashers, for allowing me to study their records; to the late Earl of Warwick, for admission to his Shakespeare Library, and to many clergymen who have permitted me to search their registers.
When, from the midst of a people, there riseth a man Who voices the life of its life, the dreams of its soul, The Nation's Ideal takes shape, on Nature's old plan, Expressing, informing, impelling, the fashioning force of the whole. His people's ideals should clearly their kinship disclose, To England, themselves, the more true, in that they to their Shakespeare are true.
The origin of the name of "Shakespeare" is hidden in the mists of antiquity. That it referred to feats of arms may be argued from analogy. Italian heraldry  illustrates a name with an exactly similar meaning and use in the Italian language, that of Crollalanza. English authors use it as an example of their theories. Verstegan says  : "Breakspear, Shakespeare, and the like, have bin surnames imposed upon the first [Pg 2] bearers of them for valour and feates of armes;" and Camden  also notes: "Some are named from that they carried, as Palmer Long-sword, Bropear, and in some respects Shakespear.
In "The Polydoron"  it is stated that "Names were first questionlesse given for distinction, facultie, consanguinity, desert, quality That it was so understood by his contemporaries we may learn from Spenser's allusion, evidently intended for him, seeing no other poet of his time had an "heroic name"  :. If the parts of the name be ificant, I take it that the correct spelling at any period is that of the contemporary spelling of the parts.
Therefore, when spear was spelt "spere," the cognomen should be spelt "Shakespere"; when spear was spelt "speare," as it was in the sixteenth century, the name should be spelt "Shakespeare. I know that Dr. Furnivall  wrote anathemas against those who dared to spell the name thus, while the poet wrote it otherwise. But a man's spelling of his own name counted very little then. He might have held romantically to the quainter spelling of the olden time as many others did, such as "Duddeley," "Crumwell," "Elmer. Richard Garnett.
Notes and Queries , 3rd Series, i. We find the name occurs in widely scattered localities from very early times. Perhaps a resembling name ought to be noted "in the hamlet of Pruslbury, Gloucestershire,  where there were four tenants. This was at one time an escheat of the King, who gave it to his valet, Simon Shakespeye , who afterwards gave it to Constantia de Legh, who gave it to William Solar, the defendant. This belief is strengthened by the discovery that a Simon Sakesper was in the service of the Crown in , as herderer of the Forest of Essex,  in the Hundred of Wauthorn, 7 Edward I.
Between these two dates Mr. Rylands  has found a Geoffrey Shakespeare on the jury in the Hundred of Brixton, co. Surrey, in The next  I have noted occurs in Kent in the [Pg 5] thirteenth century, where a John Shakespeare appears in a judicial case, , at Freyndon. The fifth notice is in the north. Nicholas, Carlisle, had from its foundation been endowed with a thrave of corn from every ploughland in Cumberland.
These were withheld by the landowners in the reign of Edward III. The jury decided that the corn was due. It had been withheld for eight years by various persons, among whom was "Henry Shakespere, of the Parish of Kirkland," east of Penrith. This gives, therefore, really an entry of this Shakespere's existence at that place as early as , and an examination of Court Records may prove an earlier settlement of the family. There was a transfer of lands in Penrith described as "next the land of Allan Shakespeare," and amongst the witnesses was William Shakespeare,  April, 21 Richard II.
John proves himself in the right, and receives damages, October 21, The first appearance yet found of the name in Warwickshire is in , when Thomas Sheppey and Henry Dilcock, Bailiffs of Coventry, for the property of Thomas Shakespere,  felon, who had left his goods and fled.
This would imply that he was a highly trustworthy man. Yet, by some turn of fortune's wheel, he may have been the same man as the felon. June, , to June, , there is an entry of "Walter Shakespere, formerly in gaol in Colchester Castle.
The Rev. Norris,  working from original documents, notes that on November 24 13 Richard II. Oldediche, or Woldich, now commonly called Old Ditch Lane, lies within the parish of Temple Balsall, not far from the manor of Baddesley. This closes the notices of the family that I have collected during the fourteenth century. The above-noted Adam Shakespere, the younger, died in , [Pg 7] leaving a widow, Alice, and a son and heir, John, then under age, who held lands until 20 Henry VI.
It is not clear who succeeded him, but probably two brothers, Ralph and Richard, who held lands in Baddesley, called Great Chedwyns, ading Wroxall. Norris says that no further mention of the name appears in Baddesley, but one notice of the property is given later. Elizabeth Huddespit, a widow, in held the lands which Adam Shakespeare held in The family of Shakespeare appears in the "Register of the Guild of Knowle," a semi-religious society to which the best in the county belonged:.
Pro anima Ricardi Shakespere et Alicia uxor ejus de Woldiche. Johanna Shakespere. Ricardus Schakespeire de Wroxhale et Margeria uxor ejus. Thomas Chacsper et Christian cons. Johannis Shakespeyre de Rowington et Alicia uxor ejus. Thomas Shakspere et Alicia uxor ejus de Balsale. Yeatman has studied the Court Rolls of this [Pg 8] period. It is to be wished he had published his book in two volumes, one of facts and one of opinions.
Alice Love surrendered to William Shakespeare and Agnes his wife a property apparently the same. In John Hill, John Shakespeare and others, were enfeoffed in land called "Harveys" in Rowington, and John appears as witness in and There were Shakesperes at Coventry and Meriden in the fifteenth century.
Among the "foreign fines" of the borough of Nottingham,  Robert Shakespeyr paid eightpence for to buy and sell in the borough in The same Robert complains of John Fawkenor for non-payment of the price of wood for making arrows. John Shakespere, a chapman in Doncaster,  paid on each order 12d.
A family also belonged to London. Gollancz told me of a certain "William Schakesper" who was "to be buried within the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, in England," in He left to an unnamed father and mother twenty shillings each, and six shillings and eightpence to the hospital.Claverdon bail bonds girl
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