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An abundance of administrative documents provide important details of Shakespeare's economic and social status. Shakespeare divided his time between his theatrical career in London, and business and personal matters in Stratford-upon-Avon, the town where he was born, grew up, and raised three children with his wife Anne: Hamnet (who died when he was 11), Judith, and Susanna. Documents from Stratford-upon-Avon's corporate archives illustrate his Stratfordian connections and the constant balancing of debt and credit among its more prominent citizens. The parish register of Holy Trinity Church records the baptisms, marriages, and burials of members of his family. Paperwork created by various courts provide details relating to real estate transactions, taxes, legal cases, and his social network at the time of his death. Records preserved by the College of Arms chronicle his father's application for a coat of arms in 1596 and the subsequent debate over its validity. Various other legal and financial records which mention Shakespeare or his family reflect the work flows of a wide range of highly organized administrative bodies in early modern England. 

Shakespeare's personal papers do not survive, which is frustrating but not surprising. In general, personal papers only survive if they are absorbed into institutional archives or if they suffered from benign neglect in the muniment rooms of noble houses. Shakespeare's last direct descendant died in 1670, at which point his house, New Place, and its belongings, was sold. It wasn't until the 18th century that people began to value and romanticize the manuscripts of famous authors.

All Documents

December 4, 1611
On December 4, 1611, by the deed shown here, the wealthy widow, Elizabeth Quiney, and her eldest son, Adrian Quiney, sold a sizeable house in Wood Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, to William Mountford. The deed has three tags with seals attached (shown here in the first image).
ca. Easter 1610 - Hilary 1611
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
January 28, 1612
Shown here is Stephen Bellott’s Bill of Complaint dated January 28, 1612, the first of four pleadings in Bellott v. Mountjoy.
June 19, 1612
Shown here is the second round of depositions, dated June 19, 1612, given in Bellott v. Mountjoy.
June 23, 1612
Shown here is the third round of depositions, dated June 23, 1612, given in Bellott v. Mountjoy.
February 3, 1612
Shown here is Christopher Mountjoy’s Answer, dated February 2, 1612, the second of four pleadings in Bellott v. Mountjoy.
May 5, 1612
Shown here is Stephen Bellott’s Replication, dated May 5, 1612, the third of four pleadings in Bellott v. Mountjoy.
May 1612
Shown here is Christopher Mountjoy’s Rejoinder, the fourth of four pleadings in Bellott v. Mountjoy.
May 11, 1612
Shown here is the first round of depositions, dated May 11, 1612, given in Bellott v. Mountjoy.
Easter term 1612
Shown here is the Witness Book, from Easter term 1612, for the first round of depositions in Bellott v. Mountjoy.

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