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The answer of Christopher Mountjoy of London, tire maker
February 3,
1612

REQ 4/1/3/2

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REQ 4/1/3/2
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

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The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Court of Requests
Title: The answer of Christopher Mountjoy of London, tire maker
Date: February 3, 1612
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: REQ 4/1/3/2

Item Creator
Court of Requests
Item Title
The answer of Christopher Mountjoy of London, tire maker
Item Date
February 3, 1612
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
REQ 4/1/3/2

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Court of Requests
Title: The answer of Christopher Mountjoy of London, tire maker
Date: February 3, 1612
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: REQ 4/1/3/2

Shown here is Christopher Mountjoy’s Answer, dated February 2, 1612, the second of four pleadings in Bellott v. Mountjoy. The lawsuit, begun on January 28, 1612, was between Stephen Bellott and Christopher Mountjoy, head of a French Huguenot family living in Silver Street in Cripplegate Ward, just north of Cheapside and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Members of the household included Christopher and Marie Mountjoy, their only child Mary, and Stephen Bellott, an apprentice in the family business, the fabrication of elaborate and fashionable headpieces called “tires.” The lawsuit concerns negotiations which led to the marriage of Stephen and Mary on November 19, 1604. Bellott complains that his father-in-law subsequently reneged on an agreement to support the young couple financially. On May 11, 1612, William Shakespeare deposed as a witness. Depositions in the case reveal that Shakespeare, then a lodger in the Mountjoy household, had been engaged to persuade Bellott to enter the marriage.

This document is Mountjoy’s response to Bellott’s Bill of Complaint. Mountjoy denies that he had made the promise of dowry claimed by Bellott, and declares that he had given the couple gifts of bedding and furniture.

Twenty-six documents survive from Bellott v. Mountjoy. Twelve of these refer to Shakespeare explicitly or implicitly (including one document with his signature), although the document shown here does not. The lawsuit is generally unremarkable and Shakespeare’s involvement is minor. However, the case does contribute to our understanding of Shakespeare's life: that in 1604 he was living in Silver Street with a family of French Huguenot tiremakers. In 1909 Charles William Wallace and his wife Hulda Berggren Wallace discovered Bellott v. Mountjoy in the Public Records Office, now The National Archives.

Semi-diplomatic transcription

[This transcription is pending final vetting. Transcriptions of Bellott. v. Mountjoy are based on Charles William Wallace, "Shakespeare and his London Associates, As Revealed in Recently Discovered Documents," University of Nebraska Studies, 10 no. 4 (1910), 260-360. This publication has a secondary pagination, followed here for individual entries: pp. 11-14.]]

Tertio die februarij Anno Regni Regis Jacobi Anglie &c nono, et Scotie xlv°./

The Answeare of Christopher Mountioy to the Bill of Complainte
of Stephen Belott Complainant

This Defendante All advantages of excption [sic] to the Insufficiencie and Incertainty of the sayd Bill nowe and at all times saved vnto him for answeare thervnto and for the manifest declaration of the truth saith  That
about ten yeares last past this defendante was Contentented [sic] at the Entreaty of the sayd Complainauntes friendes to accept of the Complainaunte to serve him as a prentise to learne his trade being a Tyremaker his
said frendes promissinge to finde him Convenient apparrell while he shoulde so Continue in this Deffendauntes service.  and the said Complainaunte did serve this Defendaunte as a Prentice to learne his trade the
space of six yeares or thereaboutes  But dueringe all the time of his sayd service neither the Complaynaunte nor any of his friendes did according to theire promise fynde him any apparrell att all savinge Linen
but this Defendaunte was enforced to finde him all the Residue of his apparrell duering all the sayd time neither had the Complainaunte duering all the sayd time of six yeares any further or other releefe or
other maintenaunce from any of his friendes but was duering all the saide time wholy and solye mayntayned by this Defendaunte  And after the said Complaynaunte had served this Defendaunte as aforesayd
the said time of six yeares then the said Complainaunte was desierus to travell into spaine and this Defendaunte did furnish him ^with mony and other necessaryes for the Iorny to the vallue of six poundes
or theraboutes after which time the sayd Complaynaunte returned from his travell vnto this Defendaunte againe and was a suter vnto this Defendauntes daughter to marry her and to that purpose did
move this Defendaunte and his then wife for theire Concentes for the marriage which this Defendaunte and his sayd wyfe being poore and not able to bestowe lyttle or nothinge with their sayd Daughter
in marryage (save yat this Defendante had then brought her to a good perfection in his sayd trade of Tyermakeinge) was Contented to yeelde vnto: though the said Complaynaunte neither then had nor
ever sithence to the knowledge of this Defendaunte any mony, or other valluable goodes or landes whatsoever from his sayd friendes nor any other thinge whatsoever but what he had gotten in this Defendauntes
service and by the trade that this Defendaunte had learned him  And afterwardes videlicet: about five yeares past the sayd Complainaunte was marryed to the sayd Daughter of this Defendaunte at
which marryage it was agreed betweene the said Complainaunte and this Defendaunte that if the sayd Complainaunte with his wife shoulde Continue and worcke in theire trade to the benifitt
of this Defendaunte in the house of this Defendaunte duering the space of twoe yeares or thereaboutes after the said Marriage this Defendaunte giveinge them Conveniente housrome and dayate Convenient
for them so that this Defendaunte might only have the benifitt of theire laboures  Then this Defendaunte at the end of the sayd twoe yeares would give vnto the sayd Complainaunte fiftie [changed from five] poundes or to that effect as this Defendant
nowe remembreth  after which time the sayd Complaynaunte did ^for a littel time remayne in the house of this Defendaunte accordingly  But [changed from And] after the sayd Complaynaunte and his wife had stayed in the house of this Defendaunte as aforesayd
the space of halfe a yeare or there aboutes he refused to stay there any longer and would needes take other Courses for his better prefermente as he then pretendyd,  And at the end of the sayd halfe yeare when the said Complainant
Did departt from the house of this Defendaunte this Defendaunte out of his love to the sayd Complainaunte and his wife (beinge no other way Compellable thervnto) did bestowe on them a good proportion of
houshoulde stuffe and the thinges Concerninge theire trade according to this Defendauntes poore abillity being to the vallue of Twenty poundes or theraboutes and lykewyse ten poundes of ready mony
to put into theire pursse and did hartely desier theire welfare and lykewise did Intende to leave vnto the sayd Complaynaunte and his wife beinge the only Chylde of this Defendaunte all or the most
parte of that estate which god should have blessed him with at the time of his Death  And allso in his fatherly love to have ben helpfull to them from time to time accordinge to his poore abillity  After which time
(yat the said Complainaunt was gon from the house of this Defendaunt) ^about a yeare This Defendauntes wife dyed and then the said Complaynaunte and his wife Came againe and lived with this Deffenaunte [sic] as partneres
in ther sayd trade of Tyeringe about the space of half a yeare duering which time this Defendaunte had in his handes the summe of forty shillinges of the Complaynauntes mony and at the ^end of the said Halfe yeare & about the time of the
Complaynauntes depareture ^from this defendantes house the sayd Complaynaunte being Indebted vnto a Bruer the summe of three poundes desiered this Defendaunt to pay it for him to the sayd Bruer which sayd somm of three
poundes this Defendaunte payed for the sayd Complaynaunte accordingly ^but this defendant was never sithens repaide the said 3li or any parte therof other then the said 40s as aforsaide.  and dueringe the sayd half yeare that the Complaynaunt ^was with this Defendaunte as aforesayd this Defendaunte
did buy into the shopp with his owne mony silvered wyer and other Comodyties Concerninge theire trade to the vallue of Ten poundes or theraboutes for which the sayd Complainaunte should by
agreemente have payd halfe but did pay never a peny  And this Defendaunte absolutely denyeth that he did ever to his knowledge offer vnto the sayd Complaynaunte in marryage with his daughter
the summe of Threescore poundes or any portion or other summe whatsoever other than the sayd summe of ffifty poundes at the end of the foresayd three yeares and vpon the Considderation
as before is expressed  And this Defendante lykewyse denyeth that he did ever promise to leave to the sayd Complainaunte and his wife at his Death the somme of two hundred poundes
or any other Certaine summe but as aforesayd did Intende to deale with the Complaynaunt and his wife at the time of his Death as it is fittinge for a father to deale with his only Chylde
But this Defendaunte neither then Coulde nor yet Canne set dowe any Certaynty thereof for that this ^defendant both then was and yet is a poore man and knows not howe it will please god to blesse him
in his estate at the time of his Death nor how the sayd Complaynaunte and his wife will behave themselves towardes this Defendaunte In his life time wherby they may deserve this Defendauntes
either more or lesse affection and love towardes them.  And this defendaunt lykewyse denyeth that he to his knowledge doth owe the Complaynaunte forty shillinges or any other former sommes of Mony whatsoever
otherwyse than as before is expressed  And this Defendaunte further saith that he did about a month sythence earnestly request the sayd Complaynaunte in the presence of his neighboures to account With him for the sayd
Reckoninge betweene them at which time the sayd Complaynaunte did give this Defendaunte Ill Languages and bid him Come by his mony howe he Coulde,  Without that that any other matter or thing Contained
in the sayd Bill of Complaynt materiall or effectuall to be answered vnto and not heerin sufficiently Confessed and avoyded denyed or traversed is true  All which matteres this Defendante is ready
to averr and prove as this most honorable Court shall award and humbly prayeth to be dismissed out of the same with his reasonable Costes and Chardges in this behalfe most wrongfully sustayned/
(signed) Geo: Hartoppe

To learn more, read Alan H. Nelson's essay on lawsuits in Shakespeare's England.

Co-written by Folger Shakespeare Library staff and Alan H. Nelson

Sources

Charles William Wallace, "Shakespeare and his London Associates, as Revealed in Recently Discovered Documents" University of Nebraska Studies 10, no. 4 (1910): 11-14.

Samuel Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: Records and Images (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 23, 31-33.

A full list of sources for Bellott v. Mountjoy is given under Bellott v. Mountjoy: First set of depositions.

Last updated September 17, 2018