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the rest. On examining the two rough draughts of the grant of arms to John Shakspeare in 1596, I found that in one of these, (apparently the more perfect of the two,) the corresponding words run thus: "whose parents and late antecessors were for their valour and faithful services to the late most prudent prince king Henry VII." &c. In the other thus: "-whose parents [and] late antecessors for their faithful and valiant service," &c. The word their is in this paper obliterated, and his written over it; and over antecessors the word grandfather is written. The draughtsman however forgot to draw a line through the word for which grandfather was to be substituted. He evidently was in doubt which of the two expressions he should retain; but we may presume he meant to reject the words "- whose parents and late antecessors, and to substitute instead of them, "whose grandfather for his," &c.
In the grant of 1599, we have seen, the words originally stood, "-whose parent and antecessor was," and the words great grandfather and late are interlineations. The writer forgot to erase the original words, but undoubtedly he did not mean that both those and the substituted words should be retained, but that the paragraph should stand thus: "whose great grandfather for his faithful and approved service," &c. and, instead of "great grandfather," the earlier instrument induces me to think that he ought to have written, "—whose late grandfather.'
A minute examination of these instruments led me to inquire what grounds the heralds had for their assertion that our poet's ancestor had been rewarded by a grant of lands from King Henry the Seventh. But it should seem they were satisfied,
with very slight evidence of this fact; for after a very careful examination in the chapel of the Rolls, from the beginning to the end of that reign, it appears, that no such grant was made. If any such had been made by that king, out of the forfeited estates of the adherents of King Richard the Third, or otherwise, it must have passed the great seal, and would have been on record. As therefore it is not found on the rolls, we may be assured that no such grant was made. However, from the words of the early instruments in the herald's office, which have been already quoted, "-for his faithful and valiant service," &c. it is highly probable, that our poet's great grandfather distinguished himself in Bosworth field on the side of King Henry, and that he was rewarded for his military services by the bounty of that parsimonious prince, though not with a grant of lands.
Mr. Rowe in his account of our poet's father has said that he had ten children. From the Register of the parish of Stratford-upon-Avon, it appears, that ten children of John Shakspeare were baptized there between the year 1558, when the register commenced, and the year 1591. If therefore they were all the children of our poet's father, Mr. Rowe's account is inaccurate; for our poet had a sister named Margaret, born before the commencement of the Register. It is, however, extremely
I cannot omit this opportunity of acknowledging the politeness of Mr. Kipling of the Rolls-office, who permitted every examination which I desired, to be made in the venerable repository under his care; and, with a liberality seldom found in publick offices, would not accept of the accustomed fee, for any search which tended to throw a light on the history of our great dramatick poet.
improbable, that in so numerous a family not one of the sons should have been baptized by the christian name of old Mr. Shakspeare. I now therefore believe (though I was formerly of a different opinion) that our poet's eldest brother bore his father's christian name, John; and that, like their eldest sister, Margaret, he was born before the Register commenced. If this was the case, then without doubt the three children who were born between March 1588 and September 1591, Ursula, Humphrey, and Philip, were the issue of this younger John, by his second wife, whose christian name was Mary; and the real number of the children of our poet's father was nine. This Mary Shakspeare died in 1608, and is described as a widow. If therefore she was the wife of John Shakspeare the younger, then must he have died before that year.
About twenty years ago, one Mosely, a masterbricklayer, who usually worked with his men, being employed by Mr. Thomas Hart, the fifth descendant in a direct line from our poet's sister, Joan Hart, to new-tile the old house at Stratford, in which Mr. Hart lives, and in which our poet was born, found a very extraordinary manuscript between the rafters and the tiling of the house. It is a small paperbook consisting of five leaves stitched together. It had originally consisted of six leaves, but unluckily the first was wanting when the book was found. I have taken some pains to ascertain the authenticity of this manuscript, and after a very careful inquiry am perfectly satisfied that it is genuine.
The writer, John Shakspeare, calls it his Will, but it is rather a declaration of his faith and pious resolutions. Whether it contains the religious sentiments of our poet's father or elder brother, I
am unable to determine. The hand-writing is undoubtedly not so ancient as that usually written about the year 1600; but I have now before me a manuscript written by Alleyn the player at various times between 1599 and 1614, and another by Forde, the dramatick poet, in 1606, in nearly the same hand-writing as that of the manuscript in question. The Rev. Mr. Davenport, Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon, at my request endeavoured to find out Mr. Mosely, to examine more particularly concerning this manuscript; but he died about two years ago. His daughter, however, who is now living, and Mr. Hart, who is also living, and now sixty years old, perfectly well remember the finding of this paper. Mosely some time after he found it, gave it to Mr. Peyton, an Alderman of Stratford, who obligingly transmitted it to me through the hands of Mr. Davenport. It is proper to observe that the finder of this relique bore the character of a very honest, sober, industrious man, and that he neither asked nor received any price for it; and I may also add that its contents are such as no one could have thought of inventing with a view to literary imposition.
If the injunction contained in the latter part of it (that it should be buried with the writer) was abserved, then must the paper which has thus fortuitously been recovered, have been a copy, made from the original, previous to the burial of John Shakspeare.
This extraordinary will consisted originally of fourteen articles, but the first leaf being unluckily wanting, I am unable to ascertain either its date or the particular occasion on which it was written; both of which probably the first article would have furnished us with. If it was written by our poet's
father, John Shakspeare, then it was probably drawn up about the year 1600; if by his brother, it perhaps was dated some time between that year and 1608, when the younger John should seem to have been dead.
[Since the sheet which contains the will of John Shakspeare was printed, I have learned that it was originally perfect, when found by Joseph Mosely, though the first leaf has since been lost." Mosely transcribed a large portion of it, and from his copy I have been furnished with the introductory articles, from the want of which I was obliged to print this will in an imperfect state. They are as follows:
"In the name of God, the father, sonne, and holy ghost, the most holy and blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, the holy host of archangels, angels, patriarchs, prophets, evangelists, apostles, saints, martyrs, and all the celestial court and company of heaven, I John Shakspear, an unworthy member of the holy Catholick religion, being at this my present writing in perfect health of body, and sound mind, memory, and understanding, but calling to mind the uncertainty of life and certainty of death, and that I may be possibly cut off in the blossome of my sins, and called to render an account of all my transgressions externally and internally, and that I may be unprepared for the dreadful trial either by sacrament, pennance, fasting, or prayer, or any other purgation whatever, do in
The lost articles, &c. (here inclosed in crotchets) are supplied from Mr. Malone's Emendations and Additions in his Vol. I. Part II. p. 330,-31.