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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: November ::
Shakespeare's Birthday
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1025  Monday, 20 November 2006

[1] 	From: 	John W. Kennedy <
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 	Date: 	Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 11:49:00 -0500
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

[2] 	From: 	Jim Harmon <
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 	Date: 	Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 11:01:27 -0600
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

[3] 	From: 	Alan Jones <
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 	Date: 	Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 17:51:11 -0000
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

[4] 	From: 	Peter Farey <
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 	Date: 	Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 20:49:52 -0000
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

[5] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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 	Date: 	Sunday, 19 Nov 2006 19:38:02 -0000
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 11:49:00 -0500
Subject: 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

Harry Connors <
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>In either case, the baby would have been baptized again by
>the minister and in the church.

Absolutely not, unless the minister suspected that John was so 
feeble-minded as not to be capable of forming the intent to baptize (which 
I think we can rule out). Even then, he would have used the conditional 
form, "If thou be not Baptized al ready, N. I baptise the in the name of 
the father, and of the Sonne, and of the holy Ghoste. Amen."

Otherwise, there would have been a formal "certification", but not a 
re-baptism.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jim Harmon <
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Date: 		Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 11:01:27 -0600
Subject: 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

It's probably more than I can comprehend, but it may be necessary to take 
into consideration the 1582 and 1752 calendar changes discussed on 
http://www.ancestry.com/learn/library/article.aspx?article=3358 and 
http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/ancmag/3384.asp. They might at least 
affect day-of-week calculations, depending on the accuracy of the 
perpetual or other calendar consulted. This may not even impact the 
current discussion (as I said, it's probably more than I can comprehend 
<g>), but I did want to mention it as an interesting aside.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alan Jones <
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Date: 		Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 17:51:11 -0000
Subject: 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

Peter Bridgman <
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  [...]

>William's baptismal entry (plus the
>one above) reads as follows ...
>
>22   Johannes filius William Brooks
>26   Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere
>
>The 26th was a Wednesday.  The 25th was St Marks day, an inauspicious
>day for baptisms as altars and crosses were draped in black.  This
>means that the 23rd (St George's day) or the 24th are the most likely
>days for William's birth. [...]

Why would altars and crosses draped in black on St Mark's Day? (That is, 
if the parish church had any altars or crosses to drape: I assume, perhaps 
wrongly, that by 1564 the chancel had been reordered in the Protestant 
fashion with a bare wooden table set east-west and its crosses removed).

Alan Jones

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[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Farey <
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Date: 		Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 20:49:52 -0000
Subject: 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

Thanks to those who responded to my comments on this.

Peter Bridgman doesn't see why I suggested that the baptism on the 26th 
April would have been at home, as "John and Mary only lived a few yards 
from Holy Trinity church."

My point was really not that they would have been *unable* to go where 
"the most nombre of people may come together", which was - if not "a few 
yards" from their home - certainly less than half a mile away, but that 
there were good reasons to avoid going at such a time.

He continues:

>The 26th was a Wednesday. The 25th was St Marks day, an inauspicious
>day for baptisms as altars and crosses were draped in black.  This
>means that the 23rd (St George's day) or the 24th are the most likely
>days for William's birth.  The 23rd if an exhausted Mary needed a day
>in bed before she was up, the 24th if she didn't.

My suggestion was that, being baptized on the 26th, he was probably born 
the day before. Whilst the 25th April may well have been considered an 
inauspicious date for baptism, I doubt whether this had any effect on 
whether anyone was born on that date, which, being my own birthday, is 
something that I have a personal reason to be quite glad about!

Harry Connors sees "no reason to reject the traditional April 23rd date 
for Shakespeare's birth based on the possibility that he might have been 
baptized at home." But my reason for considering that this date might be 
too early has nothing to do with where it occurred, but upon the need for 
babies to be baptized as soon as possible after birth.

All I can say is that the words of 1559 Book of Common Prayer certainly 
give the impression that baptisms would occur *either* in church on 
Sundays or holy days, *or* at home on other days. Here's what it says:

   "It appeareth by auncient writers, that the Sacrament of Baptisme in
   the old old tyme, was not commonly Ministred, but at two times in the
   yeare, at Easter and Whytsontide, at which tymes it was openly
   ministred in the presence of al the congregacion: which custome (now
   being growen out of use,) although it can not for many consideracions
   bee well restored agayne, yet it is thought good to folow the same as
   nere as conveniently may be. Wherfore the people are to be admonished,
   that it is most convenient that Baptisme should not be ministred but
   upon Sondayes, and other holy dayes, when the most nombre of people
   may come together, ... Nevertheles (if necessitie so require) children
   may at al tymes be Baptized at home."

Harry also says that "A home baptism, if it occurred, isn't what is 
recorded in the church records" in which case, where were those baptisms 
at home, which were fully permissible according to the Prayer Book, to be 
recorded?

Peter Farey

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Sunday, 19 Nov 2006 19:38:02 -0000
Subject: 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1013 Shakespeare's Birthday

Harry Connors writes ...

>If John baptized his son because John was a Catholic, he
>is hardly likely to have mentioned the fact to the minister.

John and Mary would not have baptised their son at home, for one very good 
reason.  This is that in Stratford in 1564 they would have had no need to. 
John Bretchgirdle, the vicar at Holy Trinity was "a humanist scholar with 
Catholic sympathies, whose curate had drawn up Catholic wills and who had 
performed old-style baptisms for parishioners" (Michael Wood, p. 30)

Five years later in 1569 there was a "rising in the North" by Catholic 
forces led by the Earl of Northumberland.  Their aim was to put Mary Queen 
of Scots on the throne.  After the rising was quashed by government 
forces, the Stratford vicar John Bretchgirdle, his curate and the 
Stratford schoolmaster all left their posts at the same time.  Wood writes 
that "the curate was pointedly described in the town minutes as 
'fugitivus', a fugitive who had apparently sympathised with the rising" 
(p. 46).  In the following year (1570) the Stratford corporation was 
ordered to remove the stained glass windows from the Guild Chapel and in 
1571 the Catholic copes and vestments that Bretchgirdle had worn were 
finally sold off.

What this effectively means is that thirteen years after Elizabeth's 
accession, Holy Trinity Stratford finally conformed and became a 
Protestant church.  This is presumably why William and Anne's 1582 
marriage was in Temple Grafton, rather than Stratford.  The priest in 
Temple Grafton was of the old faith.

Getting back to the 1564 baptism, Wood suggests that "William was probably 
named after his godfather who may have been William Smith, a haberdasher 
and Henley Street neighbour" (p.30).  William Smith was most likely 
another Catholic.  At a council meeting in 1586 John Shakespeare lost his 
position as an alderman, along with John Wheeler, another old Catholic, 
because they "doth not come to the halls when they be warned".  At the 
same meeting William Smith refused to serve any longer and left the 
corporation.

William Smith's name was to appear in John Bretchgirdle's will.  A number 
of books (Aesop, Cicero, Sallust) were bequeathed to the five sons of 
ex-alderman William Smith.

Peter Bridgman

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