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Stratford-upon-Avon's 1553 charter of incorporation stipulated that the bailiff, acting as justice of the peace, would preside over a court of record held fortnightly (every two weeks), which would handle civil claims of up to £30.
This precept, issued by John Shakespeare in his capacity as justice of the peace, concerned William Shotteswell's suit against Richard Walker for a debt of £10. It should have been preceded by an initial hearing, but of this there is no surviving record.
Under the terms of Stratford-upon-Avon’s 1553 charter of incorporation, every September the fourteen aldermen and fourteen capital burgesses elected one of their number to serve as bailiff for the coming year.
Following his election as bailiff in 1568, John Shakespeare presided over meetings of the Corporation, although minutes were only properly kept for two – on October 1, 1568 and April 20, 1569 (Minutes and Accounts, ii, pp. 13-14, 24-5).
Joan, John and Mary Shakespeare’s fifth child, was baptized on April 15, 1569, according to the Holy Trinity Church parish register. It was a normal practice at the time to use the name of a deceased child for later offspring.