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February 15,
1609

BRU15/5/115 recto

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BRU15/5/115 recto
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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
Date: February 15, 1609
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: BRU15/5/115

Item Date
February 15, 1609
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
BRU15/5/115

BRU15/5/115 verso

View Image Assets
BRU15/5/115 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
Date: February 15, 1609
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: BRU15/5/115

Item Date
February 15, 1609
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
BRU15/5/115

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
Date: February 15, 1609
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: BRU15/5/115

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.   

This second writ to summon the jury was issued at the court sitting on February 15, 1609. Unlike the first, this was a writ of distraint, with the threat of seizure of the goods of the twenty-four men summoned unless they appeared at the next court, thus putting them under greater pressure to comply. On this occasion the writ was returned by the other sergeant-at-mace, Francis Boyce, together with “a certain panel annexed to this write,” presumably yet another list containing the twenty-four names.

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.  

Semi-diplomatic transcription

[recto]

Stratford
Burgus

Preceptum est Servientibus ad Clavam ibidem quod distringant seu etc Philippum Greene Iacobum Elliottes Edwardum Hunt Robertum Wilson Thomam Kerbey Thomam Bridges

Ricardum Collins Iohannem Ingraham Danielem Smyth Willelmum Walker Thomam Mylls Iohannem Tubb  Ricardum Pincke Iohannem Smyth pannarium Laurencium Holmes

Iohannem Boyce Hugonem Piggin Iohannem Samwell Robertum Cawdry Iohannem Castle Paulum Bartlett Iohannem Yate Thomam Bradshawe et Iohannem Gunn

iuratores summonitos in Curia domini Regis de Recordo hic tenta inter Willelmum Shackspeare querentem et Iohannem Addenbroke defendentem in placito debiti per omnes terras et cattalla

sua in balliua sua ita quod nec ipsi nec aliquis per ipsos ad ea manum apponant donec aliud inde a Curia predicta habuerit preceptum et quod de exitibus eorundem

de Curia predicta respondeant Et quod habeant Corpora eorum Coram balliuo burgi predicti ad proximam Curiam de Recordo ibidem tenendam ad faciendum Iuratam illam

et ad audiendum Iudicium suum de pluribus defaltis Et habeant ibi tunc hoc preceptum Teste ffrancisco Smyth Iuniore generoso balliuo ibidem xvo die

ffebruarij Annis Regni domini nostri Iacobi dei gracia Regis Anglie ffrancie et Hibernie sexto et Scotie quadragesimo secundo
Greene

[endorsed]
Execucio istius precepti patet in quodam panello huic precepto Annexo
Franciscus Boyce  serviens

​Written by Robert Bearman

Last updated June 3, 2016