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amounting, I think, to seventy-one, does the name of any of our poet's ancestors, at either period, occur : all which circumstances afford a strong confirmation of what I have suggested. In further support of this conjecture, it may also be observed, that in Dethick and Camden's grant of arms, in 1599, John Shakspeare is styled “ now of Stratford upon Avon; ” from which it may plausibly be inferred that his son, from whom they received their instructions, knew that he had not been originally of that town: but as the word now does not occur in the preceding grant of 1596, and may have been formal rather than sig. nificant, this argument, it must be owned, is not of much force, though, connected with others, it may have some weight.
The heralds, in their grant or confirmation of arms to John Shakspeare, in 1599, by omitting the Christian name of our poet's mother, and writing, by mistake, Wellingcote, instead of Wilmecote, as the place of her father's residence, involved the history of this family in great difficulty and confusion. In their former grant, indeed, in 1596, which I shall soon have occasion to mention, they were more accurate, and had rightly described the lady to whom mankind is so much indebted, as well as the place of her birth : a circumstance which has hitherto escaped the microscopick eye of the antiquary. Could any doubt still remain on this subject, it would be removed by the will of Robert Arden, our poet's maternal grandfather, which I discovered in the Consistory Office at Worcester, as well as by other ancient documents, which I shall hereafter have occasion to quote. From this will, compared with that of his widow, preserved in the same office, we learn, that the mother of our poet was the youngest of, at least, four daughters, and was a favourite of her father, being appointed one of his executors, in conjunction with her eldest sister, and in preference to his wife. The personal fortune of Mr. Arden, as appears from an inventory annexed to his will, amounted only to seventy-seven pounds, eleven shillings, and ten-pence. He had likewise, we find, some property in the neighbouring manor of Snitterfield ; and this circumstance, perhaps, was the occasion of John Shakspeare's introduction to his daughter ; for there are some grounds for supposing that he had some relations settled at Snitterfield, a town about three miles from Stratford. From a declaration filed in the Bailiff's Court, at Stratford, where an action of debt was brought, by Nicholas Lane, against John Shakspeare (our poet's father, I believe), in Hilary Term, 29 Eliz. (1587), it should seem that he had a brother of the name of Henry; and another paper, which I have also found among the archives of Stratford, informs us that Henry Shak. speare was of Snitterfield 8.
8 To the will of Christopher Smyth, otherwise Court, of Stratford upon Avon, made Nov. 2, 1586, and proved at Stratford, Dec. 2. in the same year, is subjoined a list of “ Debts due to the said Christopher."
“ It. Henry Shakspere of Snytterfield oweth me vli, ixs."
It appears from the register of the parish of Snitterfield that Henry Shakspeare was buried there Dec. 29, 1596 ; and Margaret, his widow, was buried there a few weeks afterwards, Feb. 6, 1596-7.
There was also a Thomas Shakspeare settled at Snitterfield ;
Mr. Arden had, without doubt, frequent occasion to visit Stratford', it being a considerable markettown, and much better furnished with both the necessaries and luxuries of life than Wilmecote. The business of the law also, sometimes, led him there. In an ancient manuscript, containing an account of the proceedings of the Bailiff's Court, at Stratford, in the reigns of Philip and Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, I find a memorial of a suit instituted by him for the small sum of four shillings? John Shakspeare,
for John, the son of Thomas Shakspeare, was baptized there, March 10, 1581-2.
Our poet's grandfather might, however, have been originally of Ingon, in the parish of Hampton upon Avon, or as it was then called, Bishop Hampton ; for a Henry Shakspeare (whether the same person already mentioned, or another, does not appear,) lived at one time in that parish, the register of which contains the following entries :
“1582, June 10, Lettyce, the daughter of Henrye Shakespere, was baptized,
“ 1585, Oct. 15, Jeames the sonne of Henrye Shakespere was baptized.
“ 1589, Oct. 25, Jeames Shakspeare of Yngon was buried."
Henry Shakspeare might have lived at one time at Snitterfield, afterwards have moved to Ingon, and finally returned to Snitterfield. Ingon is in the parish of Hampton, but nearer to Snitterfield than Hampton. It is observable that Mr. John Shakspeare, as we shall presently see, held a farm at Ingon; to which he might be attached either as the place of his nativity, or as being in the neighbourhood of Snitterfield, if he was born there.
9 Though Great Wilmecote, in which Mr. Arden lived, is in the parish of Aston Cantlow, Little Wilmecote, which adjoins it, is in that of Stratford ; and this circumstance, together with its vicinity to that town, for it is but two miles distant, necessarily occasioned some intercourse between these places. 1 “Stratford Cur. ibm. tent. vicesimo nono die Novembris,
Cur. Sprimo anno regni dñæ nostræ Mariæ, &c. [1553.] being, perhaps, originally of Snitterfield, which is but two miles from Wilmecote, and three from Stratford, found an easy introduction to his daughter; who, after the death of her father, must necessarily, as one of his executors, have had frequent occasion to visit Stratford, for the purpose of settling his affairs, and collecting such sums as were due to him at the time of his death.
Robert Arden, our poet's maternal grandfather, died in December, 1556; and his youngest daughter's marriage certainly took place in the following year. Her portion, I find, from her father's will, was a tract of land called Asbies, and the sum of six pounds, thirteen shillings, and four-pence. Of this land, I, for some time in vain, endeavoured to ascertain the extent and value; no trace of the denomination above-mentioned being, at present, to be found at Wilmecote. But a bill in Chancery, which I discovered in the Record Office, in the Tower, filed by our poet's father, in November, 1597, against John Lambert, son and heir of Edmond Lambert, of Barton on the Heath, in the county of Warwick, to whom, in the year 1578, he had mortgaged the estate which he acquired by his wife, has furnished me with the precise amount of this property, the value of which turns out to have been, within a few pounds, what I had conjectured. It was an estate in fee ; and according to the acknowledgment of the son of the mortgagee in his answer, consisted of a messuage, one
Johēs Dyckson fatet. accion. quem Robertus Arderne de Wylmecot versus eum pros. sup. dem. iiijs. Id. fiat. leva. et concord. in cur. quod pecunia pd. solut. fuerit citra prox. cur.” Codex MS. in Camera Stratforden.
yard land ? and four acres, in Wilmecote; but, from a fine levied by John and Mary Shakspeare, in Easter Term, 1579', it appears, more particularly, that this estate consisted of fifty acres of arable land, two acres of meadow, four acres of pasture, and common of pasture for all manner of cattle; the house at Wilmecote being probably let for forty shillings a-year (the usual rent of such a house at that time), this estate, though mortgaged only for the sum of forty pounds, may be estimated as fairly worth one hundred and four pounds, supposing the land to have been let at three shillings the acre, and the common rate of purchase to have been at that time ten years; each of which suppositions I have reason to believe well founded. The fortune, therefore, on the whole, of Mary Arden, was, one hundred and ten pounds, thirteen shillings, and four-pence. Let not this moderate portion be compared with the more ample fortunes of the present age. At that time such a sum was considered a very good provision for a daughter, in a sphere of life much superior to that of our poet's mother. Mr. William Clopton, a man of the greatest estate in the neighbourhood of Stratford, whose manors comprehended several thousand acres, by his
? A yard land (virgata terræ), from the Saxon gyrd land, varies much in different counties ; in some containing twenty-five, in others thirty, in others forty acres. The yard land here mentioned, as will be shown hereafter, contained near fifty acres. In the fields of Old Stratford, where our poet's estate lay, a yard land contained only about twenty-seven acres.
3 F. levet in Term. Pasch. 20 Eliz, in Officio Finium juxta Medium Templum.