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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: November ::
Shakespeare's Birthday
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1034  Tuesday, 21 November 2006

[1] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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 	Date: 	Monday, 20 Nov 2006 18:32:17 -0000
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1025 Shakespeare's Birthday

[2] 	From: 	Peter Farey <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 21 Nov 2006 10:24:47 -0000
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1025 Shakespeare's Birthday


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Monday, 20 Nov 2006 18:32:17 -0000
Subject: 17.1025 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1025 Shakespeare's Birthday

Alan Jones asks ...

>Why would altars and crosses draped in black on St Mark's Day?

I got this from Schoenbaum.  In 'A Compact Documentary Life' he argues 
that WS was born on 23 April but not baptised until 26 April because 
"superstition intervened - people considered Saint Mark's Day 
unlucky."Black Crosses" it was called; the crosses and altars were almost 
to Shakespeare's day hung with black, and (some reported) the spectral 
company of those destined to die that year stalked the churchyard".

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Farey <
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 >
Date: 		Tuesday, 21 Nov 2006 10:24:47 -0000
Subject: 17.1025 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1025 Shakespeare's Birthday

Peter Bridgman correctly quotes Michael Wood as saying that John 
Bretchgirdle was "a humanist scholar with Catholic sympathies, whose 
curate had drawn up Catholic wills and who had performed old-style 
baptisms for parishioners". However Peter then goes on to say:

>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.

This cannot have been John Bretchgirdle, however, but the vicar who 
replaced him, since according to Park Honan (p.21) Bretchgirdle died in 
1565. Honan also describes him (p.6) as being "a sound Protestant", and 
Stephen Greenblatt (p.93) says that he was "staunchly Protestant" too, so 
one wonders where those "Catholic sympathies" came from.

Not that I can see how any such sympathies would have affected the main 
points I was making anyway, which were:

1) that if children were in fact being baptized as soon as possible after 
their birth, as the dates of the baptisms around that time would suggest, 
one baptized on Wednesday 26th April is most likely to have been born on 
the Monday or Tuesday, probably the latter, and

2) that the wording of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer seems to imply that 
anyone baptized other than on a Sunday or holy day - as William was - is 
more likely to have had it done at home than in the church.

Peter Farey
http://www2.prestel.co.uk/rey/index.htm

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