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Shakespeare v. Addenbrooke
June 7,
1609

ER27/7, recto

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ER27/7, recto
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

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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: Shakespeare v. Addenbrooke
Date: June 7, 1609
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: ER27/7

Item Title
Shakespeare v. Addenbrooke
Item Date
June 7, 1609
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
ER27/7

ER27/7, verso

View Image Assets
ER27/7, verso
Click image to enlarge

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: Shakespeare v. Addenbrooke
Date: June 7, 1609
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: ER27/7

Item Title
Shakespeare v. Addenbrooke
Item Date
June 7, 1609
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
ER27/7

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: Shakespeare v. Addenbrooke
Date: June 7, 1609
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: ER27/7

On August 17, 1608, William Shakespeare (or his family or agents acting on his behalf) began an action in the Stratford court of record to recover a debt of £6 from John Addenbrooke. The case dragged on until at least June 7, 1609. The register recording the court’s proceedings during this period is lost but many cases which came before it generated a sequence of writs and other loose papers. Fortunately, seven such items survive for the case between Shakespeare and Addenbrooke, allowing us to track the progress of this particular claim in reasonable, though not complete, detail. These surviving documents are in Latin and all have small central holes or tears along one edge indicating they were once held together by a tie or pin to form a bundle. R.B. Wheler, probably broke up the bundle when he discovered the file in 1800, as two of the items, the order to produce Addenbrooke  and writ to bring Addenbrooke’s surety, Thomas Hornby to court subsequently became part of his papers.  The writs all bear the name “Greene” in the bottom right corner, indicating that they had been issued with the authority of Thomas Greene, the Corporation’s steward, who acted as the court’s legal officer.

Addenbrooke, described early in his career as a yeoman but later as a gentleman, was married at Tanworth-in-Arden in 1574 and was buried there on June 19, 1609 (perhaps the reason why the case seems to have petered out). His place of residence gave rise to another problem: as Stratford’s court of record had no jurisdiction outside the borough boundary, its officers were not able to carry out its instructions in cases where the defendant lived elsewhere. None of the papers explains how Addenbrooke contracted the substantial debt but they do provide evidence of Shakespeare’s local dealings with a man of some substance not obviously linked to a routine business transaction. Due to an outbreak of plague, the London theaters were closed from July 1608 to December 1609, leading to a reduction in Shakespeare’s income, and this may have been a factor in this attempt to recover an outstanding debt or loan.   

The final surviving document in the series is a writ issued on June 7, 1609 on Addenbrooke’s failure to appear after the writ issued for his arrest. This, by far the most informative of the documents to have survived, recites the progress of the case to date and requires the serjeants-at-mace, on Addenbrooke’s failure to give Shakespeare satisfaction, to bring to the next court Thomas Hornby who had stood bail for Addenbrooke back in August 1608 and would now be required to show why Shakespeare should not seek compensation from him instead. The sergeant, Francis Boyce, returned the writ explaining that he had made its contents known to Hornby via John Heming (the beadle) and Gilbert “Chadwell,” probably in error for “Charnock” (his fellow serjeant-at-mace). 

Had the court register survived, it would have recorded any further proceedings, most importantly whether Shakespeare ever succeeded in recovering his money. Addenbrooke was buried at Tanworth twelve days after the final document, leaving no will. 

Modernized/Translated transcriptions

[recto]

Borough of Stratford-upon-Avon
The serjeants at mace are instructed that, whereas one William Shakespeare, gentleman, lately in the court of the lord James, now king of England, of the said borough, held there by virtue of letters patent of the lord Edward VI, late king of England, instituted a certain suit against one John Addenbrooke in a plea of debt, and whereas also one Thomas Hornby of the said borough became a surety and mainpernor of the said John, namely that if the said John in that plea shall be attainted by due process that the said John should give satisfaction to the said William Shakespeare in respect both of the debt in that plea to be recovered by the said William against the said John and of the fees and costs which should be awarded by the said court in that plea to the said William, or that he surrender himself to the prison of the said lord king James of the said borough to give satisfaction to the said William  for the said debt, fees and costs; and further that if the same John did not give satisfaction to the same William for the said debt, fees and costs, nor surrender himself to prison of the said lord king to give satisfaction to the same William in said form, that then the same Thomas Hornby would will to give satisfaction to the same William for the debt thus to be recovered and the fees and costs so adjudged;   and whereas also in the said plea in like manner it was proceded in the same court that the same William in the same plea, by judgement of the same court,  should recover against the same John both 6 pounds in debt and 24 shillings for damage of fees and costs incurred by the same William in pursuit of the same plea, and further that sergeants at mace there were instructed to arrest the said John and produce his body before the bailiff of the said borough at the next court of record held there to give satisfaction to the said William both of the said debt so recovered and of 24 shillings in damages and costs so awarded, whereupon Francis Boyce then and there serjeant at mace on the day of the return sent word that the said John was not found in his bailiwick whereupon the same William at the said court of the king beseeched that he be provided with a suitable remedy against the said mainpernor in this part; the sergeants at mace there are therefore ordered that through good and lawful burgesses they let the same Thomas know that he be in the presence of the bailiff of the said borough at the next court of record held in the said borough of the said borough to show if there is any reason why the said William should not have his execution against the said Thomas for the debt, fees and charges, according to the force, form and effect of the surety, if he should seek to free himself, and further to do and receive what the said court of the said lord king should decide in this case; and that they should then and there have this order.
Witness Francis Smith, junior, gentleman, bailiff there, 7 June in the 7th year of James king of England etc.

[verso]

By virtue of this writ directed to me by John Hemings and Gilbert Chadwell, good and legal men of the within-written borough, I made it known to the within-named Thomas Hornby as I was thereby ordered    

Semi-diplomatic transcription

[recto]

Stratford
Burgus
Preceptum est Servientibus ad Clavam ibidem quod Cum quidam Willelmus Shackspeare generosus nuper in Curia domini Iacobi nunc Regis Anglie burgi predicti ibidem tenta virtute literarum patentium domini Edwardi nuper Regis

Anglie sexti levavit quandam querelam suam versus quendam Iohannem Addenbrooke de placito debiti cumque eciam quidam Thomas Horneby de burgo predicto in eadem querela devenit plegius et

manucaptor predicti Iohanne scilicet quod si predictus Iohannes in querela illa legitimo modo convincaretur quod idem Iohannes satisfaceret prefato Willelmo Shackspeare tam debitum in querela illa per prefatum Willelmum versus predictum et

Iohannem in Curia predicta recuperandum quam misas et Custagia que eidem Willelmo in querela illa per eandem Curiam adudicata forent versus eundem Iohannem vel idem se redderet prisone dicti domini Regis Iacobi

nunc burgi predicti ad satisfaciendum eidem Willelmo eadem debitum misas et Custagia Et ulterius quod si idem Iohannes non satisfaceret eidem Willelmo debitum et misas et Custagia nec se redderet predicte

prisone dicti domini regis nunc ad satisfaciendum eidem Willelmo in forma predicta quod tunc ipse idem Thomas Horneby debitum sic recuperandum et misas et Custagia sic adudicata eidem Willelmo satisfacere

vellet cumque eciam in querela illa taliter processum fuit in eadem Curia quod predictus Willelmus in loquela illa per iudicium eiusdem Curie recuperabat versus predictum Iohannem tam sex libras de debito quam

Viginti et quatuor solidos pro decremento misarum et Custagiorum ipsius Willelmi in secta querela illius appositos super quo preceptum fuit servientibus ad Clavam ibidem quod capiant seu etc predictum Iohannem si etc

et eum salvo etc Ita quod habeant corpus eius coram ballivo burgi predicti ad proximam Curiam de Recordo ibidem tenendam ad satisfaciendum predicto Willelmo de debito predicto sic recuperato quam de viginti et

quatuor solidis pro predictis dampnis et Custagiis adiudicatis vnde ffranciscus Boyce tunc et nunc serviens ad Clavam ad diem retorni inde mandavit quod predictus Iohannes non est inventus in

balliva sua vnde idem Willelmus ad predictam Curiam dicti domini Regis supplicaverit sibi et remedio congruo versus predictum manucaptorem in hac parte provideri super quod preceptum est servientibus

ad Clavam ibidem quod per probos et legales homines de burgo predicto scire faciant seu etc prefatum Thomam quod sit Coram ballivo burgi predicti ad proximam Curiam de Recordo in burgo predicto tenendam ostensurus si quid

et se habeat vel dicere sciat quare predictus Willelmus execucionem suam versus eundem Thomam de debito et misis et Custagiis illis habere non debeat iuxta vim formam et effectum

manucapcionis predicti si sibi viderit expedire et vlterius facturus et recepturus quod predicta Curia dicti domini Regis consideret in ea parte Et habeant ibi tunc hoc preceptum Teste ffrancisco

Smyth Iuniore generoso ballivo ibidem septimo die Iunij Annis regni domini nostri Iacobi dei gracia Regis Anglie ffrancie et Hibernie septimo et Scotie xlijo                                 Greene

 

[verso, endorsed]

Virtute istius precepti mihi
directi per Iohannem Hemynges &
Gilbertum Chadwell probos & legales
homines burgi infrascripti scire
feci infra nominatum Thomam
Hornebye prout interius mihi
precipitur
ffranciscus Boyce
Serviens 

​Written by Robert Bearman

Last updated June 3, 2016