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T seems to be a kind of respect due to the memory of excellent men, especially of those whom their wit and learning have made famous, to deliver some account of themselves, as well as their works, to pofterity. For this reason, how fond do we see some people of discovering any little personal story of the great men of antiquity! their families, the common accidents of their lives, and even their shape, make, and features, have been the subject of critical inquiries. How trifling soever this curiosity may seem to be, it is certainly very natural; and we are hardly satisfied with an account of any remarkable person, till we have heard him described even to the very cloaths he wears. As for what relates to men ofletters, the knowledge of an author

may sometimes conduce to the better understanding his book; and though the works of Mr. Shakspeare may seem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy fome little account of the man himself may not be thought improper to go along with them.

He was the son of Mr. John Shakspeare, and was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, in April 1564. His family, as appears by the register and publick writings relating to that town, were ofgood figure and fashion there, and are mentioned as

Vol. I.


gentlemen.. His father, who was a considerable dealer in wool,had so large a family, ten children

* His father, who was a considerable dealer in wool, ) It appears that he had been officer and bailiff of Stratford-upon-Avon; and that he enjoyed some hereditary lands and tenements, the reward of his grandfather's faithful and approved services to King Henry VII. See the Extract from the Herald's Office. THEOBALD.

The chief magistrate of the Body Corporate of Stratford, now distinguished by the title of Mayor, was in the early charters called the High Bailiff. This office Mr. John Shakspeare filled in 1569, as appears from the following extracts from the books of the corporation, with which I have been favoured by the Rev. Mr. Davenport, Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon.

- Jan. 10, in the 6th year of the reign of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, John Shakspeare passed his Chamberlain's


66 At the Hall holden the eleventh day of September, in the cleventh year of the reign of our sovereign lady Elizabeth, 1569, were present Mr. John Shakspeare, High Bailiff. ,, (Then fol. low the names of the Aldermen and Burgesses.

66 At the Hall holden Nov. 19th, in the 21st year of the reign of our fovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, it is ordained, that every Alderman shall be taxed to pay weekly 4d. saving John Shakspeare

' and Robert Eruce, who shall not be taxed to pay any thing; and every burgess to pay 2d.

66 At the Hall holden on the 6th day of September, in the 28th year of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth.

or At this hall William Smith and Richard Courte are chofen to be Aldermen in the places of John Wheler, and John Shakspeare, for that Mr. Wheler doth defire to be put out of the company, and Mr. Shak[pere doth not come to the halls, when they be warned, nor hath not done of long time.”

From these extracts it may be collected, (as is observed by the gentleman above-mentioned, to whose obliging attention to my inquiries I am indebted for many particulars relative to our poet's family, ) that Mr. John Shakspeare in the former part of his life was in good circumstances, such perfons being generally chosen into the corporation ; and from his being excused (in 1579) to pay 4d. weekly, and at a subsequent period (1586) put out of the corporation, that he was then reduced in his circumstances.

It appears from a note to W. Dethick's Grant of Arms to him in 1596, now in the College of Arms, Vincent, Vol. 157.

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