MENU
May 7,
1612

REQ 1/183, folio 269

View Image Assets
REQ 1/183, folio 269
Click image to enlarge

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
Date: May 7, 1612
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: REQ 1/183, f. 269
View online bibliographic record

 

Item Creator
Court of Requests
Item Date
May 7, 1612
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
REQ 1/183, fol. 269

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
Date: May 7, 1612
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: REQ 1/183, f. 269
View online bibliographic record

 

Shown here is a Compulsory Summons, dated May 7, 1612, following the last 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.

After the four pleadings (the Bill of Complaint, the Answer, the Rejoinder and the Replication) earlier in 1612, the first action of the Court of Requests in Bellott v. Mountjoy was to summon witnesses. The Compulsory Summons shown here identifies the only named witness as William Shakespeare, gentleman. The fact that the rest of the witnesses are referred to as “others” suggests that Shakespeare was, at least initially, the principal witness in the case.

Twenty-six documents survive from Bellott v. Mountjoy. This document is one of twelve of that refer to Shakespeare explicitly or implicitly (including one with his signature). 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: p. 17.]]

Septimo die Maij/

[LEFT MARGIN:] nihil pauper
A compulsory to William Shakespeare gent’ and others ad testificandum inter Stephanum Bellot querentem et Xpoferum Mountioy defendentem

[RIGHT MARGIN:] retornabile Im[m]ediatim

[Note: "nihil pauper," meaning “no charge because he is poor, refers to Stephen Bellott the complainant, not to William Shakespeare the witness. The note at the right means " returnable immediately."]

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): 17.

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

Last updated September 17, 2018