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parties interested in the Globe were contented to come to similar terms, and the parish to collect the money from the various consenting individuals. Henslowe, Alleyn, Lowin, Town, Juby, &c., who were either sharers, or actors and sharers, in that or other theatres in the same neighbourhood, contributed in different proportions for the same purpose, the largest amount being sixpence per week, which was paid by Shakespeare, Henslowe, and Alleyn '.
The ordinary inhabitants included in the same list, doubtless, paid for their dwellings, according to their several rents, and such may have been the case with Shakespeare : all we contend for is, that we ought not to conclude at once, that Shakespeare was the tenant of a house in the Liberty of the Clink, merely from the circumstance that he was rated to the poor. It is not unlikely that he was the occupier of a substantial dwelling-house in the immediate neighbourhood of the Globe, where his presence and assistance would often be required; and the amount of his income at this period would warrant such an expenditure, although we have no reason for thinking that such a house would be needed for his wife and family, because all the existing evidence is opposed to the notion that they ever resided with him in London.
Attempt of the Lord Mayor and aldermen in 1608 to expel the King's players from
the Blackfriars, and its failure. Negotiation by the corporation to purchase the theatre and its appurtenances : interest and property of Shakespeare and other sharers. The income of Richard Burbadge at his death. Diary of the Rev. J. Ward, Vicar of Stratford, and his statement regarding Shakespeare's expenditure. Copy of a letter from Lord Southampton on behalf of Shakespeare and Burbadge. Probable decision of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere in favour of the company at the Blackfriars theatre.
We have already referred to the probable amount of the income of our great dramatist in 1609, and many years ago
2 John Northbrooke, in his “ Treatise against Plays, Players,” &c. (Shakespeare Society's reprint, p. 126), informs us that in 1577 people contributed weekly to the support of the poor “according to their ability, some a penny, some two-pence, another four-pence; and the best commonly giveth but six-pence.”
a document was discovered, which enables us to form some judgment, though not perhaps an accurate estimate, of the sum he annually derived from the private theatre in the Blackfriars.
From the outset of the undertaking, the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London had been hostile to the establishment of players within this precinct, so near to the boundaries, but beyond the jurisdiction of the corporation ; and, as we have already shown, they had made several fruitless efforts to dislodge them. The attempt was renewed in 1608, when Sir Henry Montagu, the Attorney-General of the day, gave an opinion in favour of the claim of the citizens to exercise their municipal powers within the precinct of the late dissolved monastery of the Blackfriars. The question seems in some shape to have been brought before Baron Ellesmere, then Lord Chancellor of England, who required from the Lord Mayor and his brethren proofs that they had exercised any authority in the disputed liberty. The distinguished lawyers of the day retained by the city were immediately employed in searching for records applicable to the point at issue; but as far as we can judge, no such proofs, as were thought necessary by the highest authority in equity of the time, and applicable to any recent period, were forthcoming. Lord Ellesmere, therefore, we may conclude, was opposed to the claim of the city.
Failing in this endeavour to expel the King's players from their hold by force of law, the corporation appears to have taken a milder course, and negotiated with the players for the purchase of the Blackfriars theatre, with all its properties and appurtenances. To this negotiation we are probably indebted for a paper, which shows, with great exactness and particularity, the amount of interest then claimed by each sharer, those sharers being Richard Burbadge, Laurence Fletcher", William Shakespeare, John Heminge, Henry Condell, Joseph Taylor, and John Lowin, with four other persons not named, each the owner of half a share.
We have inserted the document entire in a note, and
3 These transactions most probably occurred before September, 1608, because Laurence Fletcher died in that month. However, it is not quite certain that the “ Laz. Fletcher," mentioned in the document, was Laurence Fletcher : we know of no person named Lazarus Fletcher, though he may have been the personal representative of Laurence Fletcher. 4 It is thus headed :
[For Moreover, the hired men of the Companie demaund some recompence for their great losse, and the Widowes and Orphanes of Players, who are paide by the Sharers at divers rates and proportions, so as in the whole it will cost the Lo. Mayor and the Citizens at least 70001.”
hence we find that Richard Burbadge was the owner of the freehold or fee, (which he no doubt inherited from his father) as well as the owner of four shares, the value of all which, taken together, he rated at 19331. 6s. 8d. Laurence Fletcher, (if it be he, for the Christian name is written“ Laz”) was proprietor of three shares, for which he claimed 7001. Shakespeare was proprietor of the wardrobe and properties of the theatre, estimated at 5001.", as well as of four shares, valued, like those of Burbadge and Fletcher, at 331. 68. 8d. each, or 9331. 6s. 8d., at seven years' purchase : his whole demand
“ FOR AVOIDING OF THE PLAYHOUSE IN THE PRECINCT OF THE BLACKE * FRIERS.
£ Imp. Richard Burbidge oweth the Fee, and is alsoe a sharer therein.
His interest he rateth at the grosse summe of 10001. for the Fee, and for his foure shares in the summe of 9331. Os. 8d.
1933 6 8 Item. Laz. Fletcher oweth three shares, which he rateth at 7001.,
that is, at seven yeares purchase for each share, or 331. 68. 8d., one yeare with another
700 0 0 Item. W. Shakespeare asketb for the wardrobe and properties of
the same playhouse 5001., and for his 4 shares, the same as his fellowes, Burbidge and Fletcher; viz. 9331. 6s. 8d.
1433 6 8 Item. Heminge and Condell eche 2 shares
933 6 8 Item. Joseph Taylor 1 share and an halfe
350 0 0 Item. Lowing also one share and an halfe
350 0 Item. Foure more playeres with one halfe share to eche of them 466 13 4
5 The subsequent extract regarding the value of the wardrobe of a sharer in a theatrical company, is from R. Greene's “ Groatsworth of Wit," 1592, the same tract in which Shakespeare is called Shake-scene. What follows has evidently an individual reference, not impossibly to our great dramatist himself:-“ A Player ! (quoth Roberto) I tooke you rather for a gentleman of great living, for, if by outward habit men should be censured, I tell you, you would be taken for a substanciall man.-So I am, where I dwell (quoth the Player) reputed able at my proper cost to build a windmill. What though the world went once hard with me, when I was fayne to carry my playing fardle a foot-backe, Tempora mutantur : I know you know the meaning of it better than I, but I thus conster it - it is otherwise now – for my very share in playing apparell will not be solde for 2001. Truely (sayde Roberto) it is strange that you should so prosper in that vaine practise.”—Sign. E i b. This was sixteeen years before 1608.
In 1608 Shakespeare had for some years ceased to be an actor; but from a passage in Webster's “ Cure for a Cuckold" (Dyce's edit. iii. p. 294) we learn that when Sharers did not perform, they were still allowed their proportion of the receipts :
1:-“There is a better law amongst Players yet, for a fellow shall have bis share, though he do not play that day.” Possibly Shakespeare had his share still, though he did not play on any day.
was 14331. 68. 8d., or 5001. less than that of Burbadge, inasmuch as the fee was considered worth 10001., while Shakespeare's wardrobe and properties were valued at 5001. According to the same calculation, Heminge and Condell each required 4661. 13s. 4d. for their two shares, and Taylor 3501. for his share and a half, while the four unnamed halfsharers put in their claim to be compensated at the same rate, 4661. 13s. 4d. This mode of estimating the Blackfriars theatre made the value of it 61661. 13s. 4d. and to this sum was to be added remuneration to the hired men of the company, who were not sharers, as well as to the widows and orphans of deceased actors : the purchase money of the whole property was thus raised to at least 70001.
Each share, out of the twenty into which the receipts of the theatre were divided, yielded, as was alleged, an annual profit of 331. 6s. 8d.; and Shakespeare, owning four of these shares, his annual income, from them only, would be 1331. 6s. 8d. : he was besides proprietor of the wardrobe and properties, stated to be worth 5001.: these, we may conclude, he lent to the company for a certain consideration, and, reckoning wear and tear, ten per cent. seems a very low rate of payment; we will take it, however, at that sum, which would add 501. a year to the 1331. 6s. 8d. already mentioned, making together 1831. 6s. 8d., besides what our great dramatist must have gained by the profits of his pen, upon which we have no data for forming anything like an accurate estimate. Without including anything on this account, and supposing only that the Globe was as profitable for a summer theatre as the Blackfriars was for a winter theatre, it is evident that Shakespeare's income could hardly have been less than 3661. 13s. · 4d. Taking every known source of emolument into view, we consider 4001. a year the very lowest amount at which his income can be reckoned in 1608.
The document upon which this calculation is founded is preserved among the papers of Lord Ellesmere, but a remarkable incidental confirmation of it has still more recently been brought to light in the State Paper Office. Sir Dudley Carlton was ambassador at the Hague in 1619, and John Chamberlaine, writing to him on 19th of March in that year, and mentioning the death of Queen Anne, states that “the funeral is put off to the 29th of the next month, to the great hindrance of our players, which are forbidden to play so long as her body is above ground: one speciall man among them,
Burbadge, is lately dead, and hath left, they say, better than 3001. land.
Burbadge was interred at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, on 16th March, 1619, three days anterior to the date of Chamberlaine's letter’, having made his nuncupative will four days before his burial : in it he said nothing about the amount of his property, but merely left his wife Winifred his sole executrix. There can be no doubt, however, that the correspondent of Sir Dudley Carlton was correct in his information, and that Burbadge died worth “better than ” 3001. a year in land, besides his "goods and chattels :" 3001. a year at that date was nearly 15001. of our present money, and we have every reason to suppose that Shakespeare was quite in as good, if not in better circumstances. Until the letter of Chamberlaine was found, we had not the slightest knowledge of the amount of property Burbadge had accumulated, he having been during his whole life merely an actor, and not combining in his own person the profits of a most successful dramatic author with those of a performer. Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten, that although Shakespeare continued a large sharer with the leading members of the company in 1608, he had retired from the stage about four years before ; and having ceased to act, but still retaining his shares in the profits of the theatres with which he was connected, it is impossible to say what arrangement he may have made with the rest of the company for the regular contribution of dramas, in lieu perhaps of his own histrionic exertions.
In a work published a few years ago, containing extracts from the Diary of the Rev. John Ward, who was vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon, and whose memoranda extend from 1648 to 1679, it is stated that Shakespeare “in his elder
6 This new and valuable piece of information was pointed out to us by Mr. Lemon, who has been as indefatigable in his researches, as liberal in the communication of the results of them.
? The passage above quoted renders Middleton's epigram on the death of Burbadge (“ Works by Dyce,” Vol. v. p. 503) quite clear :
“ Astronomers and star-gazers this year
Write but of four eclipses; five appear.
Hath made a visible eclipse of playing." It has been conjectured that “ their staying ” referred to a temporary suspension of plays in consequence of the death of Burbadge; but the stay was the prohibition of acting until after the funeral of Queen Anne.
Diary of the Rev. John Ward," &c. Arranged by Charles Severn, M.D. London, 8vo, 1839.