1.5. Interview via FAQs (2002)

Helen Moorwood 2013

1.5. (9) Mainly about evidence for the ‘Shakespeare in Lancashire’ theory

 What other evidence is there for him being in Lancashire?

The appearance of William Shakeshafte in Alexander Hoghton’s will in August 1581 is interesting. A lot has been written about this and a lot remains to be written. I doubt if it will ever be proved definitively one way or the other but there are so many arguments in favour of it being William Shakespeare that I find it curious there has been so much resistance to accepting it. The most important evidence for me lies in the demonstrably old Hoghton and Hesketh traditions, which place young Will with the Hoghtons about the time of the 1581 will and with the Heskeths some time later. There is documentary proof that Alexander’s ‘instruments of musics’ and William Shakeshafte’s associate Fulke Guillom went to the Heskeths (all documentary details in Honigmann, 1985). Whether William Shakeshafte (Shakespeare?) accompanied these instruments or not has been remarkably controversial. For me, the problem can be stated quite simply: either William Shakeshafte was William Shakespeare, or he wasn’t. If he was, this has certain implications; if he wasn’t, it has other implications. An analysis of all implications one way or the other in the light of others’ and my findings lead, as with John’s ancestry, to a 99.99% chance on a balance of probabilities that they were one and the same. I elaborate on these arguments for and against in my book, after presenting all the evidence.

Where did you find evidence for John’s 99.99% certain ancestry

in the Shakeshaftes of Lancashire?

 The percentage given, as mentioned many times before, is on a balance of probabilities based on many documented facts.

(1) His own ‘Bosworth’ claim almost automatically gives him an ancestry in Lancashire or Cheshire.

(2) Lancashire is the only county with many Shakeshaftes before the 16th century.

(3) Despite whole armies hunting for his ancestry in Warwickshire, it has never been found, so plain common sense indicated it was probably somewhere else.

(4) John’s coat of arms documents made it clear that his ancestor had moved to Warwickshire from somewhere else.

(5) Shakeshaftes only arrived in Warwickshire after Bosworth.

(6) Many other Lancashire and Cheshire names kept popping up in the Midlands in the generation after Bosworth.

(7) There was a John Shakeshafte, glover, at Preston Guild in 1562 and 1582, with exactly the same life-span as John Shakespeare, glover of Stratford (both demonstrably born 1525-30 and both died before 1602). This John Shakeshafte had a brother William and a father William and was obviously a member of an established family of glovers (Abram, Preston). An analysis of this family produced a myriad reasons for confidently assuming that he was the same as John Shakespeare, although until these are published there will no doubt be resistance to accepting him as the Bard’s father. Meanwhile, all we have is the names of his potential relatives in Lancashire. Future research in Lancashire archives might produce more documentary details - or not.

[The folder PRESTON GUILD includes all relevant details.  HM 2013]


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