The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1424  Tuesday, 28 May 2002

From:           William Sutton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 24 May 2002 06:39:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1413 Re: Queen Elizabeth I's Other Profession
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1413 Re: Queen Elizabeth I's Other Profession

Hi all,

I have before me 'Shakespeare's sonnets and the problems of
autobiography' by hugh calvert Merlin books ltd braunton devon, 1987.
printed in England by Antony Rowe ltd, chippenham, wiltshire.

p205. 'to gb harrison leslie hotson assigns the credit of first
identifying (though tentatively) Lucy Negro (abbess de clerkenwell) as
the dark lady, also the discredit of believing the lady a
blackamoor...usually known by the name of Morgan, and not her husband's
name of Parker, Lucy was by by 1594 set up as a 'madam' of a house in
Clerkenwell. Hotson dates sh.  'wretched infatuation' as 1588 or 89. His
search for facts shows she was favoured by Queen Elizabeth on 3 seperate

warrants to the great wardrobe, 1568-89

for the half year march-sept 1579: item for 11 yards of silk grograin
given by our commandment to Luce Morgan to make her a gown of our great

for the half year sept 1579-march 1580: item for 3 yards and a quarter
of velvet by us given to guard a gown for Luce Morgan at 28 shillings a
yard, 4 pounds and 11 shillings.

for the half year sept. 1580-march 1581: item for 6 yards of russet
satin and 2 yards of black velvet by us given to Luce Morgan.

For some 3 years then, Lucy Morgan was in the Queen's particular favour,
presumably for her music and dancing as well as her beauty, qualities to
her possessing of which (except dancing) Shakespeare testifies (see
sonnets 128 and 133. W.), if her identity has been guessed correctly. If
we should conjecture her age 19 in 1579, says Leslie Hotson, she would
be 4 years older than Shakespeare. (what did he have with older women?
W.) The last association  that author can find for her with the Court is
New Year's Day 1581-2, this being an entry in Sir Thomas Heneage's
office book, when in a list headed gentlewomen 'Mrs Morgan's servant'
received 6s.8d.  along with other servants of three other persons, all
four being at the time apparently Gentlewomen of the Bedchamber or the
Privy Chamber.

Black luce seems to have eluded punishment until 15th january 1599/1600,
when the Court of the Aldermen of London committed her to Bridewell.
Evidence of her death before 8th October 1610 seems to be given by John
Davis of Hereford's 'Luce...ended like a bawd.  If Black Luce was
shakespeare's charmer, the association would presumably have begun
several years after her last Court appearance (1582) and before she
began the trade (1594) which lead to her appellation as Abbess of
Clerkenwell. The inherent probabilities limit the duration of
Shakespeare's association with the lady to 3 or 4 years, which might
have been anywhere between say 1588 and 1594. Lucy Morgan is therefore a
good candidate for the object of our search because she offers a wide
choice of dates within the limits set down. She was also married (sonnet
152), and in the earlier part of her career of good social standing if
leslie Hotson has correctly identified her with the Luce Morgan of the
Queen's household. Notwithstanding further arguments offered by Hotson
in the same work based on on alleged sonnet references to connotations
of the Christian name Lucy, to St. Lucy's day (which according to the
old style calendar was dec 13th, the winter solstice, 'Lucy bright, the
shortest day and longest night), and to St Lucy as patroness of those
who suffer from diseaes of the yes, the vital link with Shakespeare is
lacking, as it is with all other candidates'.

'Lucy morgan is a better candidate than Emilia Bassanio because she fits
the earlier period better.  According to the argument presented by
Emila's discoverer (A.L.Rowse), the most likely period for her
association with Shakespeare begins no earlier than 1593, or the end of
1592 (old dating), which would mean that a betrayal by Southampton, if
it occurred, must have been almost immediately after that association
began. In that event, would not the betrayal have been much less
important to Shakespeare, and since we may assume that he had not been
celibate for the several years between his arrival in London and his
meeting with Southampton, is it not more likely that the mistress in
question had been Shakespeare's lady-love for an appreciable time (even
if not the first and only one) by the time Southampton appeared on the
scene? In that case Lucy Morgan-Lucy Nigra or Black Luce, whose
husband's baptismal name is unknown but about whose dark colouring there
can be no shadow of a doubt- could well have been Shakespeare's stolen
favourite. She was also married, her huband's name being Parker, and
according to Hotson this marriage took place before 1588. There is no
other eligible candidate.'

so Don, there's some info for you. Although my gut feeling says there
was a real mistress and fair young man, I don't like to play the
speculation game.

William Sutton

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