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Tithe agreement
October 28,
1614

ER27/3 recto

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ER27/3 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: Tithe agreement
Date: October 28, 1614
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: ER27/3

Item Title
Tithe agreement
Item Date
October 28, 1614
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
ER27/3

ER27/3 verso

View Image Assets
ER27/3 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: Tithe agreement
Date: October 28, 1614
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: ER27/3

Item Title
Tithe agreement
Item Date
October 28, 1614
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
ER27/3

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: Tithe agreement
Date: October 28, 1614
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: ER27/3

Within two months of it becoming common knowledge that plans were afoot to enclose some of the open fields at Welcombe to the north-east of Stratford, Shakespeare took steps to ensure that his income as a leaseholder of half the tithes of Old Stratford, Bishopton and Welcombe would not be adversely affected. Tithe holders stood to lose income if, for instance, land was taken out of arable production, thus reducing the crops that contributed to the tithes. (To learn more about the history of the Stratford tithes, please refer to Ralph Hubaud’s 1605 assignment of a lease of a share in the Stratford Tithes to William Shakespeare.) The enclosure scheme was initiated in the name of two men with no interests in the town, Arthur Mainwaring, and his kinsman, William Replingham of Great Harborough. Therefore Shakespeare opened negotiations with Replingham, although it soon emerged that he and Mainwaring were merely fronting the scheme on behalf of William Combe, the main freeholder at Welcombe.

The agreement between Shakespeare and Replingham has come down to us in the form of an incomplete copy. It bears what was doubtless its original dated heading: “Vicesimo octavo die Octobris, anno Domini 1614. Articles of agreement indented made betweene William Shackespeare of Stretford ... gent. on the one partye & William Replingham of Greete Harborowe .... gent., on the other partie…” However, it is followed by the marginal note “Inter alia” (“amongst other things”) and then by a single paragraph headed “Item” (“also”), instead of beginning “In primis” (“Firstly”), which is how such an agreement would customarily have begun. This indicates that what survives is only a copy of one of several clauses.

It is also clear that this surviving clause had been amended. Although the agreement’s header includes only Replingham’s and Shakespeare’s names, the single clause that was copied out includes wording to protect not just Shakespeare’s interests but “one Thomas Greene”s as well. Greene confirmed that his name was inserted later in a personal note he made on January 9, 1615. Moreover, because this partial copy is endorsed in Thomas Greene’s hand, it is clear that it had been made for his particular benefit, not Shakespeare’s. Greene took this step because he had recently become the lessee of the other half of the Old Stratford, Bishopton and Welcombe tithes and, like Shakespeare, feared his income from this source would suffer if enclosure went ahead. On the crucial issue of Shakespeare’s wider involvement in the agreement, however, we have no direct knowledge, lacking as we do the other clauses. Perhaps Shakespeare had thought it necessary to ensure that his freehold interests would not be affected either, or to safeguard his pasture rights, as defined more closely in a later survey
 
The clause stipulates that any compensation to which Shakespeare might become entitled “for all such losse, detriment and hinderance … by reason of anie Inclosure or decaye of Tyllage” was to be calculated by “foure indifferent persons to be indifferentlie elected by the said William and William” (or, on Replingham’s failure to co-operate, by Shakespeare himself). Oddly this loss was said to be “in respecte of the increasing of the yearelie value of the Tythes” although all editors and commentators assume that “increasinge" was a misreading by the copyist of “decreasinge.”

The names of the signatories to the agreement are also given. It is likely that originally there were only two: John Rogers, presumably the vicar, and Anthony Nash, who witnessed other documents to which Shakespeare was a party. Thomas Lucas, and his clerk, Michael Olney, were probably added when Greene’s name was later inserted.
It is likely that this agreement, and Greene’s involvement in it, would have been kept secret. The Stratford Corporation, from whom Thomas Greene and Shakespeare held their leases of the tithes, was opposed to the enclosure scheme and was in no mood to compromise. Greene, as the Corporation’s steward, was also under instructions to help frustrate the scheme.

Semi-diplomatic transcription

ER 27/3

[recto]

Vicesimo octavo die octobris Anno domini 1614

Articles of agreement indented made betweene william Shackespeare
of Stretford in the County of Warwicke gentleman on the one partye & William
Replingham of greete harborowe in the Countie of Warwicke gentleman
on the other partie the daye & yeare abouesaid.

inter alia     Item the said William Replingham for him his heires executors and assignes doth
                   Covenaunte & agree to & with the said William Shackespeare his heires & assignes
                  That he the said William Replingham his heires or assignes shall vppon
                   reasonable request satisfie Content & make recompence vnto him the said
                   William Shackespeare or his assignes for all such losse detriment & hinderan
                   hinderance as he the said William Shackespeare his heires & assignes and
                   one Thomas Greene gentleman shall or maye be thought in the viewe and
                   Iudgement of foure indifferent persons to be indifferentlie elected by
                   the said William & William and their heires & in default of the said
                   William Replingham by the said William Shackespeare or his heires
                   onely to survey and Iudge the same to sustayne or incurre for or
                   in respecte of the increasinge [sic] of the yearelie value of the Tythes
                   they the said William Shackespeare and Thomas doe Ioyntlie or seuerallie
                   hold and enioy in the said fieldes or anie of them by reason of anie
                  Inclosure or decaye of Tyllage there ment and intended by the said
                   William Replingham And that the said William Replingham and his heires
                   shall procure such sufficient securitie vnto the said William Shackespeare
                   and his heires for the performance of theis Covenauntes as shalbee
                   devised by learned Counsell In witnes whereof the parties abousaid
                   to theis presentes Interchangeablie their handes and Seales
                   haue put the daye & yeare first aboue wrytten
Sealed & deliuered in the presence
of us

Thomas Lucas       Anthonie Nasshe
Iohn Rogers           Michael Olney. 

[verso, endorsed]

Coppy of the articles with
mr Shakspeare.

Written by Robert Bearman

Last updated May 2, 2016