Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Judith Quiney
Her baptism on 2 February 1585 was recorded as “Judeth Shakespeare” by the vicar, Richard Barton of Coventry, in the parish register for Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.
The twins were named after a husband and wife, Hamnet and Judith Sadler, who were friends of the parents. Hamnet Sadler was a baker in Stratford.
Born in 1585.
Unlike her father and her husband, Judith Shakespeare was probably illiterate. In 1611 she witnessed the deed of sale of a house for £131 to William Mountford, a wheelwright of Stratford, from Elizabeth Quiney, her future mother-in-law, and Elizabeth's eldest son Adrian.
Judith signed twice with a mark instead of her name.
On 10 February 1616, Judith Shakespeare married Thomas Quiney, a vintner of Stratford, in Holy Trinity Church. The assistant vicar, Richard Watts, who later married Quiney's sister Mary, probably officiated. The wedding took place during the pre-Lenten season of Shrovetide, which was a prohibitive time for marriages. In 1616, the period in which marriages were banned without dispensation from the church, including Ash Wednesday and Lent, started on 23 January, Septuagesima Sunday and ended on 7 April, the Sunday after Easter.
Hence the marriage required a special licence issued by the Bishop of Worcester, which the couple had failed to obtain. Presumably they had posted the required banns in church, since Walter Wright of Stratford was cited for marrying without banns or licence: but this was not considered sufficient. The infraction was a minor one apparently caused by the minister, as three other couples were also wed that February. Quiney was nevertheless summoned by Walter Nixon to appear before the Consistory court in Worcester. (This same Walter Nixon was later involved in a Star Chamber case and was found guilty of forging signatures and taking bribes). Quiney failed to appear by the required date. The register recorded the judgement, which was excommunication, on or about 12 March 1616. It is unknown if Judith was also excommunicated, but in any case the punishment did not last long. In November of the same year they were back in church for the baptism of their firstborn child.
In 1633, to protect the interests of Judith and the children, the lease was signed over to the trust of John Hall, Susanna's husband, Thomas Nash, the husband of Judith's niece, and Richard Watts, vicar of nearby Harbury, who was Quiney's brother-in-law and who had officiated at Thomas and Judith's wedding.
Eventually, in November 1652, the lease to The Cage ended up in the hands of Thomas' eldest brother, Richard Quiney, a grocer in London.
The inauspicious beginnings of Judith's marriage, in spite of her husband and his family being otherwise unexceptional, has led to speculation that this was the cause for William Shakespeare's hastily altered last will and testament. He first summoned his lawyer, Francis Collins, in January 1616. On 25 March he made further alterations, probably because he was dying and because of his concerns about Quiney. In the first bequest of the will there had been a provision "vnto my sonne in Law"; but "sonne in Law" was then struck out, with Judith's name inserted in its stead. This money was explicitly denied to Thomas Quiney unless he were to bestow on Judith lands of equal value. In a separate bequest, Judith was given "my broad silver gilt bole."
It has been speculated that he may have died in 1662 or 1663, when the parish burial records are incomplete, or that he may have left Stratford-upon-Avon.
He is known to have had a nephew, living in London, who by this time was holding the lease to The Cage.
Judith is portrayed in William Black's Judith Shakespeare: Her Love Affairs and Other Adventures, published serially in Harper's Magazine in 1884. She is one of the main characters in Edward Bond's 1973 play Bingo, which portrays the last years of her father, in retirement in Stratford on Avon. She also appears in one of the final stories in Neil Gaiman's graphic novel, The Sandman. Gaiman compared Judith with the character Miranda from Shakespeare's The Tempest. She is the subject of the 2003 novel My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare's Tale by Grace Tiffany. The radio play Judith Shakespeare by Nan Woodhouse portrays her as "a loner, yearning to be a part of her playwright father's life". She travels to London to join him and has a troubling affair with a young aristocrat. "Shakespeare's Daughter" is the title of a short story by Mary Burke that was short-listed for a 2007 Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Irish Writer prize.
Judith Quiney had died by 9 February 1662, the day of her burial and a week after her 77th birthday.
She outlived her last surviving child by 23 years. She was buried in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church, but the exact location of her grave is unknown. Of her husband, the records show little of his later years.
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