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Stratford-upon-Avon Borough: Minute books: Council Book A, 1555-1594
September 4,
1568

BRU2/1, page 367 verso

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BRU2/1, page 367 verso
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Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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Document-specific information
Title: Stratford-upon-Avon Borough: Minute books: Council Book A, 1555-1594
Date: September 4, 1568
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: BRU2/1, p. 367 verso

Item Title
Stratford-upon-Avon Borough: Minute books: Council Book A, 1555-1594
Item Date
September 4, 1568
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
BRU2/1, p. 367v

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Terms of use
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has graciously contributed images under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Visitors may download, link to and cite the images for personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the images, commercial or third party use, is strictly prohibited. Visitors must contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to request additional use, at: images.scla@shakespeare.org.uk

Document-specific information
Title: Stratford-upon-Avon Borough: Minute books: Council Book A, 1555-1594
Date: September 4, 1568
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: BRU2/1, p. 367 verso

Under the terms of Stratford-upon-Avon’s 1553 charter of incorporation, every September the fourteen aldermen and fourteen capital burgesses elected one of their number to serve as bailiff for the coming year. Due to gaps in the records, it's not certain how these elections were managed immediately after incorporation, but by at least 1564 the Corporation had developed a practice whereby three men were proposed for the office, one of whom was then elected to serve. If, as sometimes happened, the man chosen declined the office, another of the candidates would then be approached.

John Shakespeare, who was elected an alderman in 1565, may have been first proposed to serve as bailiff as early as 1566, although the record-keeping for that year was particularly poor. There are no records of meetings between February, 1566 and January, 1567, although we do know that William Smith served as bailiff during that time. There is, however, a record of the election meeting held on September 3, 1567 which shows that John Shakespeare was one of the three candidates nominated for bailiff. He got three votes, losing to Robert Perrott who received sixteen votes. The other candidate, Ralph Cawdrey, secured no votes at all (Minutes and Accounts, ii, pp. 4–5). Record-keeping remained poor in 1567–68, but we can deduce that Perrott had refused to serve and that John Shakespeare, the runner-up, must have declined as well. Instead, the bailiff for that year was Ralph Cawdrey.

The next election meeting, presided over by Ralph Cawdrey, the retiring bailiff, was held on September 4, 1568 (shown here). The opening paragraph also lists the other aldermen in attendance (including John Shakespeare), and in the left-hand column the nine capital burgesses present.

At this meeting the three men nominated for the office of bailiff for the coming year were John Shakespeare, Robert Perrott, and Robert Salisbury, listed in the right-hand column. The result of the election is not given, but from the record of a meeting on October 1 (Minutes and Accounts, ii, pp. 13–14), it is clear that John Shakespeare had been sworn in, possibly because Perrott had again refused to serve. It may be significant that at this meeting, the only item of business recorded was an order setting fines for those who refused to serve in public office when elected.  It is also worth noting that the third candidate in 1568, Robert Salisbury, was not yet an alderman (he was elected on October 7). This would suggest that at that time the Corporation was having a difficult time recruiting suitable and enthusiastic townsmen to serve as members.

Written by Robert Bearman

Last updated June 22, 2016