Reason No. 96 Why Oxford = “Shakespeare” — Edward de Vere was with Elizabeth before her Famous Speech to the Troops at Tilbury

Queen Elizabeth the First of England gave her famous speech to the troops at Tilbury, a village on the Thames, at a time when they still believed the Great Enterprise of Phillip II of Spain, the Armada, was about to land. A ruthless military force, convinced of God’s will for it to succeed, was about to conquer England. But in this moment of terror Gloriana appeared in their midst, riding from rank to rank and smiling as the soldiers cheered, before delivering an address to be remembered for all time.

(click on images for larger views.)


The speech, preserved in at least three versions, has been studied from then to now for its rhetorical structure, its simplicity and nobility, its power to inspire and motivate. It has been likened often to the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V, when the king rallies his troops at Agincourt before they head into battle despite the overwhelming odds against them.

This reason to believe Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare” is the likelihood that, while Elizabeth certainly inspired him, there can be little doubt that he inspired her as well.


Oxford was with the 55-year-old Queen at Whitehall Palace not long before her visit to Tilbury. The earl had been commanding own ship the Edward Bonaventure, as part of the English fleet led by Lord Admiral Charles Howard, his longtime supporter and close friend, during some of the early fighting against the Armada; but the Bonaventure had been put out of commission, so Oxford left the fleet and arrived on July 27 at the Tilbury camp, reporting to his long-time enemy Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, whom Her Majesty had appointed Supreme Commander of the Army.

The next day Leicester wrote to Secretary Francis Walsingham that Oxford had set off to retrieve his “armor and furniture.” The Supreme Commander wondered where to assign Oxford on land. “I would know from you what I should do,” he wrote. “I trust he be free to go to the enemy [engage in close combat], for he seems most willing to hazard his life in this quarrel.”

(c) Essex County Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

When Oxford returned, Leicester told him he was being put in charge of two thousand men at Harwich, a peninsula that promised little if any military action. Leicester wrote again to Walsingham on August 1, reporting that Oxford “seemed at the first to like well of it,” but then “came to me and told me he thought the place of no service or credit…”

We can only imagine the face-to-face confrontation between these two men, whose mutual enmity had finally erupted in the midst of the long-dreaded attempted invasion, the outcome of which would determine England’s future. Emotions were already running high; there was a very real fear that their country might be taken over by the King of Spain and the Pope of Rome, and this fear may have driven Oxford to an act of insubordination.

The Queen with Leicester at Tilbury

The Queen with Leicester at Tilbury

“Clearly Oxford’s motivation was pique,” Alan Nelson scolds him in Monstrous Adversary, “rather than cowardice or subversion; but pique cannot excuse a refusal to obey a superior officer in time of war.”

Rather than accept such an order from this man he thought of as a “villain, villain, smiling, damned villain,” as Hamlet called his uncle, King Claudius, viewed by Oxfordians as representing Leicester, he scoffed at it and hurried away. By August 1, when Leicester was writing to Walsingham about the confrontation, Oxford had returned to London, exclaiming he “would to the court and understand Her Majesty’s further pleasure.”

So Oxford had gone to Whitehall to be with Elizabeth, who was now within a week of making her dramatic speech to the troops at Tilbury. The historical record tells no more of Oxford’s doings until the victory celebration to St. Paul’s on November 24; but what, we may ask, was the substance of his meeting with Elizabeth? How long was he with her at the palace? From what they knew during that week, the conquest of England was very possibly imminent; and in this dire situation, what would they have talked about?

Was it decided right then, between the two of them, that the Queen would go to Tilbury to plead for unity and loyalty?

Elizabeth had been Edward de Vere’s official mother from the time he became a royal ward at twelve in 1562. He had been in her Majesty’s highest favor all during the 1570s and even through his second triumph in the tiltyard, at the great tournament of January 22, 1581. That had been just a few months before his steep fall from grace when his mistress, Anne Vavasour, one of the Queen’s own Maids of Honor, gave birth to his illegitimate son (Sir Edward Vere). Even so he had alerted Elizabeth and Burghley to the treasonous plots of his erstwhile Catholic associates, proving yet again that his loyalty to her had never wavered.

Now in the midst of England’s greatest military crisis, and when Elizabeth herself was in grave danger, she and Oxford would have dropped all petty concerns and shared their old ties and old feelings in the kinds of words and phrases that we should expect to find in speeches from the pen of Shakespeare. Just two years before, in 1586, the earl had been cited by William Webbe as “the most excellent” of poets at court; in the next year, 1589, he will be cited in The Arte of English Poesie as one of the courtiers “who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest.”

(c) Essex County Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Elizabeth and Oxford would have understood that this might be their final meeting. In this highly charged circumstance, could they avoid the subject of how she might rally her troops in the face of the Spanish fury? How could Oxford fail to suggest the kind of speech she might make?

Certainly no other candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare was in a position to inspire the Queen to make a positively Shakespearean speech to the army!

When Henry V in Shakespeare’s play addresses his soldiers at Agincourt, he descends to their level as one of them: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

And Elizabeth does the same, telling her troops: “I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all.”

King Henry reminds his men of the honor they will gain: “And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered.”

So, too, Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury, promising: “I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field … I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid to you; [and] we shall shortly have a famous victory.”

[It cam be no coincidence that her promise of a “famous victory” echoes the much earlier play The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, which Oxfordians feel was written by a young Edward de Vere, and which quite obviously forms the basis of 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V by Shakespeare.]

Inevitably we should find within Elizabeth’s address at Tilbury some phrases here and there to be found in Shakespeare:

Elizabeth: “Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects.”

Shakespeare in The Comedy of Errors: “Money by me! Heart and goodwill you might.”

Elizabeth: “… and [I] think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm.”

Shakespeare in 1 Henry VI: “I owe him little duty, and less love; and take foul scorn to fawn on him by sending.”

The Queen’s most famous statement is her ringing declaration: “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king” – and then there is Portia, wife of Brutus, in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare: “I grant I am a woman; but withal a woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter. Think you I am no stronger than my sex …?”

So … did the Earl of Oxford help or influence Queen Elizabeth’s speech at Tilbury? A case can be made that “Shakespeare” surely did!

The most-often-cited version of the Queen’s speech was found in a letter from Leonel Sharp sometime after 1624 to the Duke of Buckingham:

My loving people,

We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honor and my blood, even in the dust.

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

Here is the text of Henry the Fifth’s famous speech, starting with Westmoreland’s remark provoking it:

WESTMORELAND: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day!

The Table of Contents for “100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford”

I’d like to share the way in which the various elements have been organized for 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford:



Reason 1 – The Patron-Playwright

Reason 2 – The Allowed Fool

Reason 3 – The Director-Actor

Reason 4 – Performance in the Tiltyard


Reason 5 – Plays for the Court

Reason 6 – “Lights! Lights! Lights!”

Reason 7 – “The Courtier”

Reason 8 – “Hamlet’s Book” (Cardanus’ Comforte)

Reason 9 – The Polonius-Hamlet Family

Reason 10 – “These Few Precepts”

Reason 11 – “The Pirates”

Reason 12 – “The Kingdom of the Mind”

Reason 13 – “Hamlet’s Castle”

Reason 14 – “Beowulf” and Hamlet


Reason 15 – The Earl of Surrey

Reason 16 – Arthur Golding

Reason 17 – “Romeus and Juliet”

Reason 18 – Richard Edwards

Reason 19 – Oxford’s Geneva Bible

Reason 20 – The Gad’s Hill Caper


Reason 21 – Youthful Verse

Reason 22 – “Love Thy Choice”

Reason 23 – Hawks and Women

Reason 24 – “New Glory of Language” (Re: Castiglione)

Reason 25 – A Public Letter (Re: Cardanus’ Comforte)

Reason 26 – Private Letters


Reason 27 – Gabriel Harvey

Reason 28 – “A Pleasant Conceit of Vere”

Reason 29 – “The Art of Poetry”

Reason 30 – “Our Pleasant Willy”

Reason 31 – “One Whose Power Floweth Far”

Reason 32 – “Our De Vere”


Reason 33 – Shakespeare’s “Predecessors”

Reason 34 – John Lyly

Reason 35 – Antony Munday

Reason 36 – Thomas Watson

Reason 37 – A Diversity of Dedications

Reason 38 – A Depth of Dedications


Reason 39 – The College of Writers

Reason 40 – “The Famous Victories”

Reason 41 – “The Policy of Plays”

Reason 42 – The Queen’s Men

Reason 43 – The 1,000-Pound Grant

Reason 44 – The Tilbury Speech


Reason 45 – Shakespeare in Love … With Italy

Reason 46 – “Commedia dell’arte”

Reason 47 – Titian of Venice

Reason 48 – Portia’s House


Reason 49 – Christopher Marlowe


Reason 50 – Oxford in the Plays

Reason 51 – Elizabeth in the Plays


Reason 52 – Oxford in the Sonnets

Reason 53 – Oxford and Southampton


Reason 54 – The French Connection

Reason 55 – The Greek Connection

Reason 56 – Legal Knowledge

Reason 57 – Knowledge of Power

Reason 58 – Military Knowledge

Reason 59 – Medical Knowledge

Reason 60 – The Sea and Seamanship

Reason 61 – “Methinks I Have Astronomy”

Reason 62 – Knowledge of Music

Reason 63 – Horses and Horsemanship

Reason 64 – Knowledge of Heraldry

Reason 65 – Gardens and Gardening


Reason 66 – “Monsieur”

Reason 67 – Bottom’s Dream

Reason 68 – “The Two Gentlemen”

Reason 69 – Portia’s Suitors

Reason 70 – Philip Sidney

Reason 71 – “Cymbeline”


Reason 72 – “King John”

Reason 73 – Bertram and Oxford

Reason 74 – Suspicion and Jealousy

Reason 75 – The Bed Trick

Reason 76 – “Timon of Athens”

Reason 77 – Campion and “Twelfth Night”

Reason 78 – “The Winter’s Tale”

Reason 79 – “Troilus and Cressida”

Reason 80 – “Macbeth”

Reason 81 – “The Tempest”


Reason 82 – The Echo

Reason 83 – The Northwest Passage

Reason 84 – “Ever or Never”

Reason 85 – “Truth’s Authentic Author”

Reason 86 – “I Am That I Am”

Reason 87 – “The Quality of Mercy”

Reason 88 – “You Are Not Ipse”


Reason 89 – “Best for Comedy”

Reason 90 – The New Clown

Reason 91 – Dramatic Literature

Reason 92 – Printers and Publishers

Reason 93 – The “Shrew” Plays

Reason 94 – A Pivotal Year: 1604

Reason 95 – “Minerva Britanna”: 1612

Reason 96 – George Chapman: 1612

Reason 97 – The Two Henries: 1619

Reason 98 – “The Compleat Gentleman”: 1622

Reason 99 – Daughters and Dedications

Reason 100 – “The Record of a Wasted Genius”

POSTSCRIPT – A Man and His Life




Christopher Marlowe, Continued: the Fourth and Final Part of Reason 95 to Believe the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”

Queen Elizabeth with the troops at Tilbury as the Spanish armada arrived

Queen Elizabeth with the troops at Tilbury as the Spanish armada arrived

After England destroyed the Spanish armada in the summer of 1588, Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford played a prominent role in the celebratory procession to St. Paul’s Cathedral on the twenty-fourth of November. An observer reported in A Joyful Ballad of the Royal Entrance of Queen Elizabeth into the City of London:

The noble Earl of Oxford then High Chamberlain of England
Rode right before Her Majesty his bonnet in his hand…
And afterwards unto Paul’s cross she did directly pass,
There by the Bishop of Salisbury a sermon preached was;
The Earl of Oxford opening then the windows for her Grace,
The Children of the Hospital she saw before her face.

But this was the end of Oxford’s public life. He soon disappeared from court and public view, retiring to the countryside after selling Vere House and Fisher’s Folly, the latter mansion having provided a London home base for writers in his charge. His wife Anne Cecil had died in June of 1588 and her father, Lord Burghley, as Master of the Court of Wards, instituted procedures against him in early 1589 for his debts dating back at least two decades and amounting to a staggering total of some 22,000 pounds – rendering his annuity of a thousand pounds virtually useless.

William Cecil Lord Burghley

William Cecil
Lord Burghley

[Mostly likely Oxford went to the manor house of Stoke Newington. After that he may have gone to Billesley Hall in the Valley of the Avon, owned by the family of Elizabeth Trussel, the Maid of Honor who became his second wife in 1591. A local legend is that As You Like It was written by “Shakespeare” at Billesley Hall.]

Billesley Hall or Manor

Billesley Hall or Manor

Oxford was the central sun around which the writers revolved, so when he could no longer finance their labors they began to fly out of orbit. The result, directly or indirectly, was the loss of nearly all of them within a span of some five years; for example:

John Lyly, his main secretary and stage manager, lost his job in 1590;
Thomas Lodge escaped poverty by voyaging to South America in 1591;
Thomas Watson died in 1592;
Robert Greene died of dissipation and poverty in September 1592;
Christopher Marlowe was stabbed to death on May 30, 1593;
Thomas Kyd, after being tortured on the rack in 1593, died in 1594.

Oxford’s company of child actors, called Paul’s Boys and/or Oxford’s Boys, was forced by the government to dissolve in 1590; and soon after, writes Eva Turner Clark, “the loud complaints of members of the group are heard; one member dies in poverty; another fails to receive promised preferment; another is killed in a tavern brawl; and others drag on in miserable existence. The goose that lay the Golden Eggs was dead.”

Outcries from the writers took various forms that only certain members of the royal court and the aristocracy might have understood. Thomas Nashe, for example, in his 1589 preface to Greene’s prose work Menaphon entitled To The Gentlemen Students of Both Universities, referred to Oxford as the “English Seneca” who had been forced to “die to our stage” or to abandon his commitment to theatre:

“Yet English Seneca read by candlelight yields many good sentences, as ‘Blood is a beggar,’ and so forth; and if you entreat him fair in a frosty morning, he will afford you whole Hamlets, I should say handfuls, of tragical speeches. But oh grief! Tempus edax rerum: [‘Time, the consumer of all things”] what’s that will last always? The sea exhaled by drops will in continuance be dry, and Seneca, let blood line by line and page by page, at length must needs die to our stage.”

Many Oxfordians believe that Edward de Vere had written the first version of Hamlet by 1585, when he had Marcellus allude to “shipwrights” (builders of wooden vessels) in London who were helping to prepare for the Spanish invasion:

Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land,
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
And foreign mart for implements of war;
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week…

The spectacle of shipbuilding all week and even on Sundays, as the nation braced for war on the home front, would have resonated with an English audience before, but not after, the arrival of the armada in 1588. Meanwhile Nashe was also indirectly reporting that the author of the tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark had been forced to “die to our stage.”

Then at the end of 1590 came registration of the poem Tears of the Muses, attributed to Edmund Spenser, also bemoaning the loss of the great author:

And he, the man whom nature self had made
To mock herself, and truth to imitate,
With kindly counter under mimic sdhade,
Our pleasant Willy, ah! Is dead of late…

But that same gently spirit, from whose pen
Large streams of honey and sweet nectar flow,
Scorning the boldness of such base-born men
Which dare their follies forth so rashly throw,
Doth rather choose to sit in idle cell,
That so himself to mockery to sell.

It was Edward de Vere who (as Hamlet puts it) held the mirror up to “nature” and so “imitate” the “truth” in his work – an echo in passing of his motto Nothing Truer than Truth. Oxford was the great writer who had been “dead of late” and was now choosing to “sit in idle cell” rather than sell himself or his work. In one of his song-verses printed back in The Paradise of Dainty Devices, signed “E.O.” in 1576 and “E. Ox” in subsequent editions, he revealed that “never am less idle, lo, than when I am alone” – that is, he never worked harder than when he was by himself.

Meanwhile in September 1589 two of the writer-spies in Oxford’s circle got into trouble. Marlowe was fighting in the street with an innkeeper’s son, William Bradley, when Watson appeared and drew his sword. Marlowe stepped back, but Bradley leaped toward Watson and wounded him. Watson retreated, but Bradley charged again, so now Watson pierced him deep in the chest, killing him. Both writer-agents were tossed into the Newgate dungeon, but Marlowe was released without charge while a jury eventually ruled that Watson had acted in self-defense. He spent some months in the prison, awaiting “the grace of the Queen” until, on February 10, 1590, he received a pardon.

Queen Elizabeth The Armada Portrait

Queen Elizabeth
The Armada Portrait

The death of Secretary Francis Walsingham on April 6, 1590 sent the world of English espionage into a tailspin of competing factions. The strongest one was controlled by the powerful father-son team of William Cecil Lord Burghley and Robert Cecil. The latter, Oxford’s former brother-in-law, was determined to gain power over the intelligence-gathering apparatus and, too, over the public stage along with its playwrights, play companies and playhouses.

Upon the Secretary’s death some of his spy network fell into the hands of his cousin Thomas Walsingham, who began to lead a kind of rogue operation. Watson and Marlowe both entered Thomas Walsingham’s patronage; and Marlowe continued to travel abroad. As reported first by Nicholl in The Reckoning, in January 1592 Marlowe was lodging with two other English spies in Flushing, a Dutch seaport town ceded to England in return for support against Spanish invaders. On the twenty-sixth of that month, Marlowe was arrested in Flushing as a counterfeiter and deported – a bizarre episode that ended with him returning home as a prisoner to face Burghley in private and answer his questions.

Might it be reasonable to ask how Marlowe found time to write? It appears that whatever his literary and dramatic contributions may have been, they had ceased when Oxford gave up Fisher’s Folly in 1589 and could no longer support the University Wits. In The Mysterious William Shakespeare (1584), Charlton Ogburn Jr. supported the idea that it was Oxford who had discovered Marlowe’s dramatic ability and brought out Tamburlaine in 1587, to teach the people what might be expected of a ruthless conqueror like Philip of Spain; and he continued:

“The relationship between the two playwrights [Oxford and Marlowe] at this time may be taken to account for the similarities in Shakespeare’s early historical dramas to Edward the Second, printed in 1594 as Marlowe’s” – that is, printed with his name after he was murdered. “The supposition would be that the play was an early one of Oxford’s that the Earl turned over in draft to Marlowe to make what he would of it.”

[Ogburn’s mother Dorothy Ogburn had written of “evidence that Edward the Second is a direct forerunner of 2 and 3 Henry the Sixth and of Richard II and is by the same hand, created out of the same consciousness: it is not plagiarized from someone else. There are innumerable correspondences between Edward the Second and these dramas, not only in locutions, imagery and mannerisms, but also in point of view.”]

On April 18, 1593, the long, highly cultured and sophisticated narrative poem Venus and Adonis was entered at the Stationer’s Register in London, without any author’s name.

William Cecil Lord Burghley (l) and his son Robert Cecil (r)

William Cecil Lord Burghley (l) and his son Robert Cecil (r)

On May 30, 1593, Christopher Marlowe was killed in the company of three other spies. Among them was the most important government agent, Robert Poley, who was now working for Burghley and Robert Cecil – the latter being determined to prevent nobles such as Oxford, Essex and Southampton from choosing a successor to Elizabeth, now in her sixtieth year. The only way Robert Cecil could hope to retain power behind the throne, beyond the reign of Elizabeth, was to become the kingmaker.

It appears that Cecil had viewed Kit Marlowe as knowing too many secrets to be trusted, that is, as having been too dangerous to remain alive. In any case, Marlow had never been named as the author of any poem or play during his lifetime.

A few weeks later, in June 1593, Venus and Adonis went on sale. No author’s name appeared on the title page, but the printed signature for the dedication to Southampton carried, for the first time, the name of an otherwise unknown author – William Shakespeare, evoking the image of a warrior-poet shaking the spear of his pen.

Oxford had returned…

“English Seneca” … “Our Pleasant Willy” … was back.

A Timeline of Events in the Life of Henry Wriothesley, second Earl of Southampton (1545 – 1581): Was he the Real Father of the “Goodly Boy” Born on Oct. 6, 1573?

Here is a Timeline of significant events in the life of Henry Wriothesley, second Earl of Southampton (1545 – 1581), mostly in relation to his imprisonment for 18 months in the Tower of London ending on May 1, 1573. A question is whether the earl had any visits in the Tower with his wife; that is, was the “goodly boy” born Oct 6, 1573 conceived after such a visit in January 1573, or, instead, was some other man the actual father? Some of the letters mentioned in this Timeline were obtained courtesy of Christopher Paul. At some point I’ll try to put up full texts of the letters.

2ND Earl of Southampton
1545 – 1581

April 24. 1545 – Thomas Wriothesley’s son Henry Wriothesley, future second Earl of Southampton, is christened “Henry” in honor of King Henry VIII.

November 1, 1545 – Thomas Wriothesley’s daughter Elizabeth Wriothsley marries Thomas Radcliffe, third Earl of Sussex (who will become a father figure to Edward de Vere). She will die in 1554.

February 16, 1547 – Thomas Wriothsley is one of the executors of King Henry’s will; and in accordance with the dead king’s wishes he is created Earl of Southampton, first of the new creation. He is relieved of his duties as Lord Chancellor.
April 12, 1550 – Edward de Vere, the future 17th Earl of Oxford, is born at Castle Hedingham in Essex (unless the official record is incorrect).

July 30, 1550 – Thomas Wriothesley, first Earl of Southampton of this creation, dies at nearly forty-five; and his son Henry Wriothesley, age five, becomes second Earl of Southampton. He passes into the custody of the royal Master of Wards. His mother, the widowed Countess of Southampton, is a devout Roman Catholic; and during the five years under Queen Mary [1553-1558], she will raise the boy as a Catholic. His country seat at Titchfield will become a bastion of Catholicism.

November 1558 – Elizabeth Tudor, twenty-five, becomes Queen Elizabeth I of England.

February 19, 1566 – The second Earl of Southampton, twenty-one, marries Mary Browne, age thirteen. She is daughter of Anthony Browne, first Viscount Montague, whose mansion at Cowdray is another bastion of Catholicism.

February 1568 – The second earl of Southampton settles his estates and his now master of his own affairs and a married man.


February 1569 – The Earl of Sussex writes to Sir William Cecil asking for his “helping hand for the young Earl of Southampton [whose Catholicism must be worrying the government] that he may be charitably be won than severely corrected.”

Summer 1569 – Queen Elizabeth on progress spends one night at Tichfield as Southampton’s guest.

Southampton & Montague Attempt to Flee

November 1569 – Northern Rebellion of the Catholic earls begins.

December 1569 – Southampton and his father-in-law Montague, who had both been involved in treasonable plans with the rebellion leaders, set sail for Flanders. But contrary winds force them back to England, where they are greeted with orders from the Queen to come immediately to Court to explain. [Akrigg, p. 8]

[Queen Elizabeth would be furious with the Second Earl of Southampton, given that her father King Henry the Eighth had created the earldom in the first place and, too, given the irony that the earl’s wealth had come from the dissolving and plundering of the Catholic monasteries.]


[The Queen and her ministers are anxious to come to an amicable agreement with Southampton and Montague. They smooth things over and Montague is appointed a Joint Lord Lieutenant of his county, as evidence of royal trust in him. Montague would follow through on his commitment, keeping his Catholic religion while never again conspiring against Elizabeth, who would point to him as evidence that she could get along with Catholics so long as they were loyal to her. In fact he will pledge his undying defense of her at Tilbury in 1588, when the Spanish armada is arriving and she reviews the army there.]


May 1570 – John Felton pins a copy of the Bull of Pius V, excommunicating Elizabeth, on the door of the Bishop of London’s house. The Pope has ordered subjects “that they presume not to obey her, or her monitions, Mandates, and Laws” under pain of excommunication. This poses an internal crisis for the Earl of Southampton.

[The earl seeks out John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, agent in London of Mary Queen of Scots, now in her English captivity. He asks the bishop whether he should, or should not, continue to serve his queen. The interview takes place secretly at night, in the seclusion of the Lambeth marshes, but is cut short by the arrival of the watch. So far the Crown is unaware of this meeting.]

June 16, 1570 – Council members Lord William Howard, Sir Francis Knowles, and Sir William Cecil write to Beecher, below. (The date below may be incorrect; this is from the Losely Papers, 229)


June 18, 1570 – The Privy Council orders Southampton arrested and confined incommunicado in the house of Beecher, Sheriff of London. He is “to allow him to have conference with none save such his domestic attendants as he should have selected to wait on him; that he should neither write nor receive any letters which should not be subjected to the Sheriff’s inspection; that he might be allowed to walk in the Sheriff’s garden in the absence of strangers” provide that the sheriff or one of the sheriff’s trusted servants is with him. [Losely Papers, 230]

July 14, 1570 – Anthony Montague writes from his house at Cowdray to Mr. More, begging him to inquire of his son-in-law if he can do anything more in his behalf.


July 15, 1570 – The Privy Council has has Southampton transferred to the custody of William More at his country home in Losely. The Council instructs More to induce the earl to join in household devotions using the Book of Common Prayer in conformity with the Church of England. [Southampton will finally comply.] The plague is raging in London and the Second Earl of Southampton is in poor health; the Queen has him moved to More’s custody.

[Losely Papers comment under 15 July 1570: “The reports of Mr. More to the Council on this subject are curiously minute and detailed. The uniting in the Common Prayer was considered at that period a sort of test of the loyalty of suspected persons.” Montague “exerted all his influence” to obtain the earl’s release; “nevertheless he remained in durance at Losely for three years, when he was permitted to remove to the seat of the Viscount at Cowdray in Sussex.” (But that period would include the earl’s eighteen months of imprisonment.)

July 16, 1570 – The Earl of Southampton writes from London to Mr. More. He has sent letters from the Council that “I am appointed to continue with you for a time.” He’d rather be at his own house; “otherwise I am glad they have placed me with so honest a gentleman and my friend; and so desiring to come to you tomorrow, I bid you farewell with hardy commendations to your wife.” (Losely 231)

August 10, 1570 – Sheriff Beecher writes to Mr. More about sicknesses in London. (It may or may not have been the plague, though.)

October 18, 1570 – The Council writes to Mr. More desiring to be informed by private letter from him if the Earl of Southampton is attending Common Prayer in his house; “and in case he have not so done already, then we require you, as of yourself, to move and persuade him thereunto, and of that he shall do or hath done, and shall answer thereupon, we pray you advertise us with convenient speed.” This is signed from Wyndes (Windsor?) by W. North, F. Bedford, R. Leicester, W. Howard, F. Knollys, James Crofts, W. Cecil and Walter Mildmay. [ Losely Manuscripts 233]

[MR. MORE REPLIES: He told the earl to have Common Prayer twice a day in his house; the earl said he “had no disposition to come out of his chamber to pray, but rather to occupy himself in prayer, thinking it to be no great difference to do the one or the other, and therefore desired me to think that he did not absent himself from the same as of one that condemned (?) the service, for not only he had usually Common Prayer in his own house,” but he also did the same at Court. Mr. More was determined; the earl finally came to service and stayed from beginning to end,” and he has expressed willingness. More is still persuading, so the earl is again willing to be present for service. And so prayer continues.]

October 31, 1570 – Viscount Montague writes from Cowdray to Mr. More that his daughter purposes to make suit for her husband’s liberation. “I cannot a little marvel that my Lord of Southampton having dealt and written as lately you know he hath, no resolutions follow of his release.” He says his daughter had had cause to hope the best. “If there appears to you no likelihood of his discharge, I pray you send me word by this bearer what you think, to the end his wife may stay no longer, but for discharge of her duty to make suit as she may. I trust and make myself assured he hath and doth not want your best means to further him.”

[MR. MORE WRITES A DRAFT LETTER TO LEICESTER – (Indicating in so many words that he fears the Earl of Southampton may commit suicide.) He understands that Leicester and others have interceded with the Queen for the earl’s enlargement. “He is fallen into that heaviness and pensiveness of mind as that I see it will either breed in him some present sickness or some great inconvenience hereafter. I have used the best persuasions I can to stay him from the same, but it little prevails, and his answer is that his restraint of liberty is very painful to him, because he doubts the same to be such discomfort to my Lady his wife as may be to her great harm, yet the indignation and displeasure of her Highness which he thinketh vehemently turns against him, because he says his friends’ earnest labor unto her Grace in his behalf can take no better place, doth so far pass the other in grief of mind unto him, as that his life seemeth to him very tedious. Of which I thought it my duty to advertise your Lordship, because I perceive his hope of qualification of the Queen’s Majesty’s displeasure against him rests chiefly in you, by whose good care if he may effect the same, it shall not only be greatly to his comfort but also bind him in honor to be at your commandment during his life.”


November 1570 – Southampton is freed from More’s custody.

April 1571 – Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford enters the House of Lords.

September 1571 – The government learns the full scope of the Ridolfi Plot, which had been simmering for a year, centered on the Duke of Norfolk, who was to raise an English Catholic army, release Mary Queen of Scots and then, with help from a Spanish invasion force, capture London and put Mary on Queen Elizabeth’s throne.

[The Bishop of Ross was deeply involved. He is arrested and learns that the Duke’s secretaries incriminated him. He is threatened with death on the scaffold, panics and tells all, spilling the story of meeting Southampton in the Lambeth marshes. Akrigg: “An English earl who had asked a Roman Catholic bishop whether or not he should obey the Queen had to be severely punished.” Elizabeth, at this point, would be so enraged at the earl that she would just as soon have him tried for high treason and executed. There is apparently no trial, however.]

October 1571

Late October 1571 – The second Earl of Southampton, twenty-six, is arrested and placed in the Tower of London, where he will spend the next eighteen months.

[Akrigg only speculates that the earl, at his own expense, could “maintain and furnish a chamber and could occasionally receive a license for a visit by his kin, but it was a grim life all the same.” He does not state what “kin” ever did receive permission to visit him, although one visitor near the end will be his father-in-law Montague.]

April 4, 1572 – The Second Earl of Southampton writes to Burghley from the Tower. [CSPD 1547-1580, Vol. I, p. 439; Vol. LXXXVI]. He hopes that through Burghley’s favor he may be able to obtain the Queen’s good will. He denies charges of misconduct while in prison. He requests to be restored to his liberty and Her Majesty’s favor. He has suffered “no small grief” that reports of his conduct in the prison are such that “thereby her Majesty’s displeasure should be more and more kindled against me (the heavy burden whereof to my great grief and discomfort I have now long time sustained).” This is a long letter, rambling on, mostly about the charges of bad behavior but also about the Queen’s negative attitude toward him, which he hopes will change.

April 20, 1572 – Mary Browne, Countess of Southampton, writes to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, praying to be allowed to join her husband, who is a prisoner in the Tower. [Dudley Papers, DU/Vol. II, 21, f. 78; the original is archived at Longleat House; it is difficult to read and we have transcribed only the second half – courtesy of Christopher Paul, transcriber.] She writes from her father’s house, signing as “Your assured poor kinswoman, M Southampton.”

July 15, 1572 – William Cecil Lord Burghley is made Lord Treasurer.

July 1572 – Mary Browne, Countess of Southampton writes to Burghley asking his advice. Her mother in law [the earl’s mother] wants her to make suit to the Queen’s Majesty on behalf of her husband. “Marry, perceiving by my Lord my father, as also from my Lady Clinton, how unprepared the Queen’s Majesty is as yet to receive our suit, and how unwilling sundry of my Lords of the Council be that I should as yet press her Majesty therein, I can hardly resolve what to do, especially for that I fear my absence will be used by some as a matter to my discredit …” She wants to know what he thinks she should do. She signs it Your Lordship’s poor friend and cousin, M. Southampton (Cotton MS.)

July 16, 1572 – The Countess writes again to Burghley, saying her husband in the Tower is “sick I fear of a burning fever, as also troubled with a swelling in his stomach, which he was never till this time trouble withal.” She continues: “Therefore I beseech you for God’s sake, be a mean for some more liberty for him, and that I may have recourse to him to attend him in his sickness, if his full enlargement [liberty] will be not obtained.” [Clearly she has not yet been allowed to visit him in the Tower.]

“Truly, my Lord, if he be no better attended now in his sickness than commonly he is, I much fear his life will not be long. The necessity of the present cause compelleth me to be thus earnest for liberty to go to him, which I hope shall not be denied him being sick, and have been granted to others in health. Thus expecting your Lordship’s answer of some good comfort upon the which my Lord his well-doing resteth…”

August 1572 – St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of Protestants in France – another reason for the Queen and Burghley to be afraid for their lives, and for the Queen to continue her fury against the earl of Southampton.

December 22, 1572 – An informant writes to the Duke of Alva, “The Earl of Arundel has been released … There are good hopes, too, of his son-in-law Lord Lumley, and the Earl of Southampton.”

January 1573 – Elizabeth visits Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth. Oxford is with her on the visit. (ARCHBISHOP VISIT NUMBER ONE)


February 13, 1573 – The Earl of Southampton writes to Lord Burghley that he had been told by his wife and father-in-law how much kindness he owed him, and how grateful he was.

[There is no evidence that either the Countess of Southampton or Viscount Montague had visited the Tower and gave him this information in person; on the contrary, if either one had visited, there would be a record of it, as there will be a record when Montague does visit in the following month.]

Other notes on this letter of 13 Feb 1573 to Burghley:
The earl begins, “Understanding my very good Lord as well by my wife, as also especially from my Lord Montague how many ways I am beholding and bound in good will unto your Lordship…”

He is desperate for the “recovery of her Majesty’s favor.” He has enclosed or attached “the form of a letter which I wish to be delivered to her Majesty,” and he is “beseeching your Lordship” to read it and change it as he thinks best “and for the delivery thereof so to appoint either by my wife (if so her Majesty would like best to accept it) or else by your Lordship’s good means, so as she may read and peruse the same. “ He closes “from my wearisome prison.”

February 14, 1573 – The Earl of Southampton writes to the Lords of the Council – a humble letter of submission and entreaty that they would testify to the Queen his wish to do dutiful and faithful service to her, and help him to regain her favor, without which liberty would be worse than bondage. [Landsdowne MSS 16/23]

[Note: The earl gives no indication that he is aware of his wife’s pregnancy. She would be five or six weeks along by now. Perhaps she herself doesn’t know yet that she is pregnant. ]

[In this letter of 14 Feb 1573 the earl speaks of “the continuance of my misery as specially the previous and heavy answer of her Majesty given to my poor wife after her long suit [indicating that her pleas to be able to visit him in the Tower have been rejected] and travail that the sore of her Majesty’s opinion towards me is not either cured or by any my so aforesaid means removed” – confirming that in fact the Queen loathes this man who would have supported her murder.

[It has been said that at no time was the Queen more afraid and angry than she was at the time of the northern rebellion of Catholic earls, and her fierce retribution included the order to Sussex to hang several hundred men who had joined the rebellion. Her anger at the second earl of Southampton would have been part of the Queen’s overall emotional reaction that must have lingered long, fueled also by the recent St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France.]

After humble begging, he refers to “the 16 months close imprisonment” that he has endured so far – the phrase “close imprisonment” referring, at the very least, to his relative isolation in the Tower without having been allowed any visitors including his wife and father-in-law. Also, if the Countess has discovered her pregnancy in just the past week, she may have made a special plea to visit her husband and have conjugal relations with him, to try to cover up her adultery.]

February 14-March 30, 1573 – There is no letter pleading with the Council for the earl’s release because of his wife’s pregnancy. Certainly this would be a factor in considering whether to release him or not; unless, of course, she had become pregnant by some other man.

(To Arrange for His Release)

March 30, 1573 – Lord Montague is licensed to confer with his son-in-law “touching matters of law and the use of his living.”
The conference must be “in the Lieutenant’s presence,” that is, in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Tower. [The record of this visit, which required licensing by the Privy Council, makes it highly unlikely that the earl had ever received other visits, which surely would have been recorded if not requiring license. In fact, for example, visits to the Third Earl of Southampton in the Tower during 1601-1603 were recorded and such records are extant.]

At stake for Montague and his daughter is the danger of scandal, not to mention the danger of the Elizabethan government getting angry at them. This holds true for the second earl also.

[March 30, 1573 – By now the Countess of Southampton is most probably nearing three months of her pregnancy with the “goodly boy” to be born October 6, 1573; that is, conception for a normal nine-month pregnancy would have occurred on or about January 6, 1573.

[Given the lack of evidence that the Countess of Southampton had ever visited her husband in the Tower during his imprisonment, two tentative conclusions are inevitable: (1) the Countess had committed adultery and had become pregnant by another man, and (2) her father’s visit to her husband in the Tower was to inform him of the situation and explain to him that the Council, or Burghley, will release him from the Tower if he agrees to accept the forthcoming child as his own.

[Hereafter the Crown will keep the earl under strict supervision and control, again using William More of Losely, but also using Lord Montague as a poster child for loyal Catholic subjects. Montague is pledging utter loyalty to the Crown under the threat of his own imprisonment, but he would also want to avoid the scandal of his daughter as an adulteress, so his compliance is doubly assured.]

March 31, 1573 – At Greenwich – Acts of the Privy Council – A letter to the Lieutenant of the Tower signifying her Majesty’s pleasure “for more liberty of the Earl of Southampton and Sir Henry Percy, Knight, and that he should consign the said Earl to Mr. Moore.”
April 1573 – There is nothing to report about Southampton so far.



May 5, 1573 – THE COUNCIL GIVES MR. MORE PERMISSION TO ALLOW SOUTHAMPTON’S WIFE, FRIENDS AND SERVANTS TO VISIT HIM [at More’s home], to allow them to ride out together, and even to visit Dogmarsfield, the house he is rebuilding. But Mr. More must go with them. He must return to Mr. More’s house the same night. “And so desiring you hereof not to fail,” the Council tells More.

[This appears to be the first time the Earl of Southampton and the Countess of Southampton have been together since before his imprisonment.]

May 5, 1573 – “Whereas, upon the humble submission of the earl of Southampton, the Queen’s Majesty’s gracious pleasure was, that he should be set at more liberty, her highness hath made special choice of you with whom he might for the for the time remain, till some further order be taken: which we have thought good to signify unto you, desiring you as well to permit unto him the access of my lady his wife, his other friends and servants which shall repair unto him, as otherwise suffer him to go some time abroad [beyond his estate] with them for taking the air, so that it be with your liking and in your company.”



October 6, 1573 – Southampton writes to William More that God has sent him “a goodly boy.”

“After my most hardy commendations, both to you and your good wife: Although it so happed by the sudden sickness of my wife, that we could not by possibility have her present as we desired, yet have I thought good to impart unto you such comfort as God hath sent me after all my long troubles, which is that this present morning, at three o’clock, my wife was delivered of a goodly boy (God bless him!) the which, although it was not without great peril to them both for the present, yet now I thank God, both are in good state. If your wife will take the pains to visit her, we shall be mighty glad of her company; and so, with my hardy commendations to your son Polsted and his wife, and to good Mr. Soundar, if he be with you, I end for this time, bidding you hardy farewell. From Cowdray, this present Tuesday 1573. Your assured friend, H. Southampton.” [Losely Manuscripts, 240]

[It would seem the Earl has taken pains to avoid writing that the “goodly boy” is in fact his son and heir to the Southampton earldom. There are no other surviving letters, from or to Viscount Montague, Mr. More, the Countess and the Earl of Southampton himself.]


“It is strange that there has been preserved no record of his baptism … There appears to be no later allusion to the godparents of the young lord … The Registers of Tichfield for that period are not extant. We know very little about the young lord’s childhood. The first is in the will of his grandmother, the Lady Jane, dated 26 July 1574; by it she left various bequests to ‘my Son’s son, Harry, Lord Wriothesley.’ This gives us at least the clue to his baby-name, and a reference to his baby expectations.” — Charlotte Stopes writes this in her 1922 biography of the third earl, indicating that the boy was being called ‘Harry’ in honor of King Henry VIII, known as Great Harry [Wouldn’t this be odd for a Catholic family?] and, perhaps, that the ‘expectations’ for him were that he himself will become a king.

(12-18 MONTHS)

[“Quite apart from the powerful disincentive to psychological involvement caused by the high infant mortality rate, most upper-class parents, and many middle- and lower-class ones, saw relatively little of their children because of the common practice of ‘fostering out.’ In the upper classes, babies were put out to wet-nurse at birth, usually away from home, for between twelve and eighteen months … Not only were the infants of the landed, upper-bourgeois and professional classes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries sent out to hired wet-nurses for the first twelve to eighteen months, but thereafter they were brought up mainly by nurses, governesses and tutors.” – Lawrence Stone, “The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800]

[Therefore we consider that the “goodly boy” born on October 6, 1573 is now put out to wet-nurse for twelve to eighteen months or until October 1574 up to as late as April or May 1575.]

JULY 1574: The earl’s mother dies; in her will she names her son’s new son Harry. Meanwhile, the Queen grants the earl a small office, giving him a sign of favor for his new loyalty. She makes him Commissioner of the Peace for his shire and he makes a survey of its defenses.

SEPT 1574: The earl appears to be acting bizarrely. He is now impoverishing himself, lavishing funds upon the building of his great new mansion at Dogmersfield, and, too, maintaining a much larger retinue than needed. He is recklessly bankrupting himself, as if he cared more for his posthumous image than for his current life.

From here on the earl and his wife the Countess are quarreling and reconciling, back and forth.

1577: The earl, upset at his wife’s intimacy with a man named Donsame, forbids her to ever see him again. When her affair actually began is unknown to me. Had it begun while her husband was in the Tower?

JAN 1580: The earl learns that his wife has been with Mr. Donesame at her father’s home of Cowdray. He now knows, if he has not known earlier or all along, that the Countess and the commoner Mr. Donesame are lovers.

The earl breaks with his wife and with her family. The Countess is banished from her husband’s home and grounds. She goes to live at one of his Hampshire residences. She is kept from here on under close surveillance. She is permitted to have carefully selected guests only on occasion.

FEB 1580: The Privy Council records that the servants of the two households, the Montagues and the Wriothesleys, are quarreling – as with the Montagues and Capulets.

MARCH 21, 1580: The Countess writes to her father Montague claiming that one Thomas Dymocke has taken over her husband’s house and his life. [I do not know exactly when Dymocke entered the picture, but obviously it was before now.] She blames Dymocke for her husband’s rage at her.

[And in 1598 she will claim that Henry the Third Earl of Southampton “never was kind to me.” In Oxford’s world “kind” is a loaded word, that means not only “nice,” etc., but kindred.]

JAN 16, 1581: The second earl is imprisoned [not sure when he is released] in consequence of the new Act against Catholics. His health has been declining and it will continue to decline as the government puts more pressure on him.

AUGUST 1581: The Council learns that the earl was in communication with Jesuit martyr Campion, through Thomas Dymock. The earl is now under increasing strain.

OCT 4, 1581: The earl dies at his Itchell house next to Dogmersfield.

DEC 1581: The boy Southampton, third earl, enters Cecil House in London as a royal ward of the Queen. The earl of Oxford had been the first; Southampton is now the eighth and last. Oxford returns to his wife Anne and all is well with the Cecil family.


Reason No. 19 to Believe Edward de Vere was “Shakespeare”: The Families of Hamlet and Oxford as Mirror Reflections

One of the most obvious links in the chain of evidence that connects Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford to “Shakespeare” is the similarity of Hamlet’s and Oxford’s family relationships.  In fact this reason to believe that Oxford wrote the play Hamlet, as well as all the other Shakespeare works, is so clear that I’ve kept putting it aside as being too obvious or too easy.   Well, I might as well get it over with, so here’s Reason No. 19 in all its simple clarity…

Queen Gertrude as played by Glenn Close

Queen Gertrude in the play is the mother of Prince Hamlet, while Queen Elizabeth in real life was the official mother of Lord Oxford.  [At age twelve in 1562 he became the first of eight royal wards during her reign.]

Polonius as played by Eric Porter

Lord Chamberlain Polonius is the chief adviser to Queen Gertrude, while William Cecil Lord Treasurer Burghley was the chief adviser to Queen Elizabeth.  [He held the post from the Queen’s accession in November 1558 until his death in August 1598, when his second son, Principal Secretary Robert Cecil, officially took over his father’s unique role behind the throne.]

Hamlet is engaged to young Ophelia, daughter of Polonius, while in real life Oxford became engaged to fifteen-year-old Anne Cecil, daughter of Burghley.   [Oxford and Anne were married in December 1571 when he was twenty-one and she had turned fifteen.]

Ophelia as played by Helena Bonham Carter

Ophelia’s older brother Laertes goes off to Paris, his behavior causing great distress for his father, Polonius, who recites those “precepts” to him as guidance, while in real life Anne Cecil’s eldest brother Thomas Cecil went off to Paris, his behavior causing great distress for his father, Burghley, who wrote him long letters full of wise “precepts” as guidance.  [In the final act of the play, in my view, Laertes becomes the second son, Robert Cecil.]


THE LINE-UP (again):

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark – Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain of England

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark – Elizabeth, Queen of England

Polonius, Chief Minister to Queen Gertrude – Burghley, Chief Minister to Queen Elizabeth

Ophelia, daughter of Polonius – Anne Cecil, daughter of Burghley

Laertes, son of Polonius – Thomas and Robert Cecil, sons of Burghley

And, for example:

Horatio Vere (1565-1635), cousin of Edward de Vere; with his brother Francis they were "The Fighting Veres"

Horatio, favorite friend of Hamlet – Horatio Vere, favorite cousin of Oxford

Francisco, a soldier – Francis Vere, soldier and cousin of Oxford

[Oh, yes – and Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet’s father and married his mother the Queen, appears to reflect Queen Elizabeth’s lover Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, whom Oxford may have suspected of having caused the death of his own father.]

So in this most autobiographical of Shakespeare’s plays, we find the protagonist in virtually the same web of family relationships at Court as that in which Edward de Vere is to be found in the contemporary history.  Traditional scholars may ask rhetorically, “Well, now, you’re not claiming this as proof that Oxford wrote Hamlet, are you?”

“No, of course not,” I might reply, “but doesn’t this give you a little queasy feeling in the gut?  I mean, don’t you have the slightest tremor of doubt that Will of Stratford could have or would have written such a play?  And do you think this mirror image of family relationships can be mere coincidence?”

James Shapiro argues in Contested Will [p. 177] that “such claims about representing on the public stage some of the most powerful figures in the realm betray a shallow grasp of Elizabethan dramatic censorship.”  J. Thomas Looney, who in 1920 first suggested Oxford as Shakespeare, “didn’t understand that Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, whose job it was to read and approve all dramatic scripts before they were publicly performed, would have lost his job – and most likely his nose and ears, if not his head, had he approved a play that so transparently ridiculed privy councilors past and present,” Shapiro adds.

Well, in the play itself the author may have supplied one answer to that argument, when Polonius at the top of Act 3, Scene 4, speaking of Hamlet, tells Queen Gertrude: “He will come straight.  Look you lay home to him.  Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with, and that your Grace hath screened and stood between much heat and him.”  (My emphasis)

In other words, Polonius-Burghley reminds Gertrude-Elizabeth that Hamlet-Oxford has taken too many liberties, unbearably so, but nonetheless the Queen has protected him from “much heat” and/or reprisals by government officials [such as Tilney] as well as by his enemies at court.

Shapiro is right, however, in one respect: the playwright surely would have lost his head … if he had really been Shakspere of Stratford!

Lilian Winstanley in Hamlet and the Scottish Succession (1921) writes on p. 122 about Polonius-Burghley and the use of spies:

“Intercepted letters and the employment of spies were, then, a quite conspicuous and notorious part of Cecil’s statecraft, and they are certainly made especially characteristic of Shakespeare’s Polonius. Polonius intercepts the letters from Hamlet to his daughter; he appropriates Hamlet’s most intimate correspondence, carries it to the king, and discusses it without a moment’s shame or hesitation: he and the king play the eaves­dropper during Hamlet’s interview with Ophelia: he himself spies upon Hamlet’s interview with his mother. It is impossible not to see that these things are made both futile and hateful in Polonius, and they were precisely the things that were detested in Cecil….”

Quite a couple of families, eh?

Hank’s 100 Reasons Why Oxford was “Shakespeare” — The List To Date


Reason No. 1: Oxford, like Hamlet, brought plays to Court

Reason No. 2: Golding, Translator of Ovid, was Oxford’s Uncle

Reason No. 3: Oxford Promoted The Courtier, Model for Hamlet

Reason No. 4: Oxford Hailed “New Glory of Language” in Courtier Preface

Reason No. 5: Hamlet’s Brush with Pirates Reflects Oxford’s Encounter

Reason No. 6: Lyly Taught Shakespeare, but Oxford Taught Lyly

Reason No. 7: Oxford Wrote the First “Shakespearean” Sonnet of the Elizabethan Reign

Reason No. 8: Gabriel Harvey’s address to Oxford in 1578: “Thy Countenance Shakes a Spear!”

Reason No. 9: Oxford to Burghley: “I AM THAT I AM”; Shakespeare Sonnet 121: “I AM THAT I AM”

Reason No. 10: Oxford Commanded the English Publication of “Hamlet’s Book”

Reason No. 11 – Part One: The Earl’s Preface to “Cardanus Comforte” is Shakespearean!

Reason No. 11 – Part Two: His Words, Thoughts & Phrases Anticipate Shakespeare’s

Reason No. 11 – Part Three: And Here’s Some of the Extraordinary Evidence

Reason No. 12 – Part One: “Shakespeare” & Queen Elizabeth’s Men

Reason No. 12 – Part Two: Lord Oxford & the Queen’s Men

Reason No. 13 – “Shakespeare” Describes a Titian Painting of “Venus and Adonis” that Oxford, not Shakspere, would have seen in Venice

Reason No. 14 – The Famous “Precepts” of Lord Polonius & Lord Burghley

Reason No. 15 – Oxford’s Prominence in “The Arte of English Poesie” of 1589

Reason No. 16: Bertram in “All’s Well” is a Portrait of Young Oxford

Reason No 17: Oxford at Age 14 Witnessed an Event like the Pivotal Scene in “Hamlet”

Reason No. 18: Henry Peacham and the Hand of an Unseen Author Identified as De Vere

Reason No. 19: The Families of Oxford and Hamlet as Mirror Reflections 

Reason No. 20: Part One: The Nearly 30 Dedications of Books to Oxford 

Reason No. 20: Part Two – The Dedications Show Oxford’s Personal Involvement with the Writers

Reason No. 21: Jealousies and Suspicions Regarding His Wife: Anne Cecil in Desdemona and Ophelia 

Reason No. 22: Edward de Vere’s Geneva Bible and its Annotations in His Own Hand

Reason No. 23: Those “Haggards” That Fly From Man to Man

Reason No. 24: Shakespeare’s Deep Knowledge of Italy & Oxford’s Italian Travels

Reason No. 25: Oxford’s Grant of a Thousand Pounds Per Year in Wartime 

Reason No. 26: “L’Envoy to ‘Narcissus'” in 1595 and “One whose power floweth far … Tilting under Frieries”

Reason No. 27: Anthony Munday and his Long Association with Oxford and “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 28: Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton and his links to both “Shakespeasre” and Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Reason No. 29: The Fabric of Oxford’s Life is Woven into the Autobiographical Sonnets

Reason No. 30: Part One – Oxford’s Letters are Filled Throughout with Thoughts and Phrases Used in the Shakespeare Works 

Reason No. 30 – Part Two – His Response in “Shakespearean” Style to the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in August 1572

Reason No. 31: “Timon of Athens” Mirrors Oxford’s Own Character, Life Experiences and Emotional Responses

Reason No. 32: “The Quality of Mercy” and Oxford’s view that “Nothing Adorns a King more than Justice.”

Reason No. 33:  The Earl of Oxford, like Shakespeare, had deep knowledge of France and of the French Language

Reason No. 34: The College of Writers at Fisher’s Folly, Oxford’s House, and the Book of Verses by Oxford and Shakespeare Transcribed by Anne Cornwallis, Daughter of the New Owner 

Reason No. 35 (Part One): The poet Thomas Watson and his Links between Edward de Vere and “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 35 (Part Two): The structure of Watson’s 1582 sonnet “century,” dedicated to Oxford, is duplicated in SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS of 1609 

Reason No. 36: The “Bed-Trick” in Edward de Vere’s Life Story, whether Fact or Legend, and its Appearance in Four of Shakespeare’s Plays 

Reason No. 37 (Part One): Oxford’s Life in Music Explains the Enormous Breadth and Depth of Shakespeare’s Love & Knowledge of It – “Mark the Music!” 

Reason No. 37 (Part Two): Oxford Worked With and Patronized the Composer William Byrd 

Reason No. 37 (Part Three): Oxford Patronized the Composer John Farmer, Who Dedicated His Works to the Earl

Reason No. 38: Henry Peacham in “The Compleat Gentleman” of 1622 Lists Oxford at the Top of Elizabethan Poets but Neglects “Shakespeare” 

Reason No. 39 (Part One): Shakespeare’s Vast Medical Knowledge and Oxford’s Interest in Medicine and Access to Medical Information  

Reason No. 39 (Part Two): More of the Medical Mind of “Shakespeare” and Why Oxford, not Shakspere of Stratford,  is the Author

Reason No. 40: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Its Origins in the Early 1580’s as a Comic Skit about Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Alencon 

Reason No. 41: The Deep Familiarity of “Shakespeare” and Oxford with the Italian Commedia Dell’Arte

Reason No. 42: “Truth is Truth” — Oxford and “Shakespeare” Share the Same Commitment to Truth in the Same Words

Reason No. 43: Oxford and the Law: He had the Experience to Develop and Use the Legal Mind of “Shakespeare” 

Reason No. 44 (Part One): (Scroll down to the Post)

Reason No. 44 (Part Two): Oxford’s Poetry and “Shakespeare’s” Poetry Suggest a Common Source

Reason No. 45: Oxford’s Echo Poem and the Echo Verse in William Shake-speare’s “A Lover’s Complaint”

Reason No. 46: Edmund Spenser’s Lament in 1590 for “Our Pleasant Willy” Who Was “Dead of Late”

Reason No. 46 (Part Two): Additional Thoughts about “Our Pleasant Willy”

Reaspm No. 47: Spenser’s Rhyming Match in 1579 between “Willie” (Oxford) and “Perigot” (Philip Sidney)

Reason No. 48: The Many Characters Reflecting Queen Elizabeth in the Shakespeare Poems and Plays

Reason No. 49: The Many Characters Reflecting Edward de Vere in the Shakespeare Plays

Reason No. 50: Oxford was Court Impressario and Master Showman: The Mock Military Battle for the Queen in 1572

Reason No. 51: Oxford Had Gained All the Military Knowledge Exhibited by the “Shakespeare” Works  

Reason No. 52 (Part One): Oxford Stages a Dramatic Show for the Queen, Playing the Lead Role as “The Knight of the Tree of the Sunne”

Reason No. 52 (Part Two): Oxford’s Page Delivers a Shakespearean Oration to Elizabeth, Professing His Master’s Loyalty

Reason No. 53 (Part One): “The Phoenix and Turtle” of 1601 is Explained by Oxford’s Role as “Knight of the Tree of the Sunne” in 1581

Reason No. 53 (Part Two): The Royal Family Triangle at the Tiltyard (1581), in “The Phoenix and Turtle” (1601) and “Shake-speares Sonnets” (1609)

Reason No. 54: The Author as Gardener: Oxford Grew up in one of the World’s Most Famous Gardens

Reason No. 55: The Earl of Surrey, who introduced the Shakespearean sonnet form in England, was Oxford’s uncle

Reason No. 56: Richard Edwards, Master of the Children of the Royal Chapel, and links with the Young Edward de Vere in the 1560’s

Reason No. 57: Each of the Three Dedicatees of Shakespeare Works was Engaged to One of Oxford’s Three Daughters

Reason No. 58: Touchstone to William in “As You Like It” act one scene five: “You are not ‘ipse,’ for I am he!”

Reason No. 59: Prospero in “The Tempest” based on Dr. John Dee, the Conjurer, and also a self-portrait of Edward de Vere

Reason No. 60: If “Shakespeare” wrote the early play “Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth,” it must have been the young Edward de Vere

Reason No. 60 (Part Two): The Prince Tudor Aspect of “Famous Victories” and the Henry plays of Shakespeare

Reason No. 61: The Sea & Seamanship: Edward de Vere’s Life Explains Shakespeare’s Knowledge

Reason No. 62: Shakespeare’s Use of Heraldry and Heraldic Terms as an Inextricable Part of His Language

Reason No. 63: “A Never Writer to an Ever Reader”

Reason No. 63 (Part Two): Edward de Vere as “Ever or Never”

Reason No. 64: The Year of Oxford’s Recorded Death – 1604 – is a Pivotal Year in the “Shakespeare” Story

Reason No. 65: The Shakespeare Plays were Revised to Become Dramatic Literature

Reason No. 66 (Part One): Oxford was a Complete Man of the Theater – On the Record!

Reason No. 66 (Part Two): Oxford’s Life in the Theater

Reason No. 66 (Part Three): Connecting the Dots of Oxford’s Theatrical Life

Reason No. 67: John Bale’s Early Play of King John and the Earls of Oxford; also, the anonymous “Troublesome Reign” of King John

Reason No. 68 (Part One): “A Pleasant Conceit of Vere Earl of Oxford, Discontented at the Rising of a Mean Gentleman” etc. = Oxford and Christopher Hatton

Reason No. 68 (Part Two): Christopher Hatton and Malvolio of “Twelfth Night”

Reason No. 69: “Cymbeline” from an Oxfordian viewpoint, as an early work, finally makes sense

Reason No. 70: The Duke of Alencon in the Shakespeare plays

Reason No. 71: Alencon and Simier in The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Reason No. 72: Oxford and the Northwest Passage … the bond … the 3,000 pounds and the 3,000 ducats … Lock and Shylock

Reason No. 73 (Part One): “The Merchant of Venice” – Portia as Queen Elizabeth

Reason No. 73 (Part Two): Portia’s Belmont is a Real Place — the Villa Foscari

Reason No. 74: Oxford’s brother-in-law Lord Willoughby brought back report on “Hamlet’s Castle” in Denmark

Reason No. 75: The New Sophisticated Clown Robert Armin was a “servant” of Oxford when he was a “servant” of Shakespeare’s Company

Reason No. 76: Oxford, like Hamlet at the Court of Denmark, was the Most Amazing Jester at the Court of Elizabethan England

Reason No. 77: The Poet-Playwright George Chapman Knew that Oxford = Hamlet = Shakespeare

Reason No. 78: “A King of Infinite Space” – Oxford and Hamlet have the same point of view

Reason No. 79: Shakespearean “history” plays as mirrors (and instruments) of Elizabethan Tudor policy

Reason No. 80: A 1595 Reference to “Sweet Shakespeare” linked to “Our DeVere … A Secret” Discovered by Alexander Waugh

Reason No. 81: Allusions in “Twelfth Night” to the 1581 Interrogation and Torture of Jesuit priest Edmund Campion

Reason No. 82: Both “Shakespeare” and Oxford were Highly Educated in Greek – Demonstrated in the work of Dr. Earl Showerman

Reason No. 83: “Romeus and Juliet” of 1562, when Edward de Vere was Twelve, and Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juiliet”

Reason No. 84: Oxford was Involved in the Revolutionary Expanding Universe of Astronomy as Indicated by “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 85: The Gad’s Hill Robbery: an Episode of Oxford’s Life Shows Up in “Henry the Fourth Part One”

Reason No. 86: The Darnley Murder of 1567, the Assassination of Coligny in 1572, and more — The Likelihood of Contemporary Sources of “Macbeth” in Oxford’s Experience between 1567 and 1589

Reason No. 87: Horses and Horsemanship: An Integral Part of “Shakespeare’s” Work and of Oxford’s Life Experience

Reason No. 88: Oxford’s Links to the Bard’s Printers and Publishers

Reason No. 89: “The Two Most Noble Henries” – Henry Wriothesley and Henry De Vere

Reason No. 90: Oxford’s Tutor Had the Only Manuscript of “Beowulf,” an Influence Upon “Hamlet”

Reason No. 91 (Part One): “The Winter’s Tale”

Reason No. 91 (Part Two): The Trial of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Trial of Queen Hermione

Reason No. 91 (Part Three): “The Stubborn Bear of Authority”

Reason No. 92: Given his anonymity, Oxford had “The Record of a Wasted Genius”

Reason No. 93: Oxford had “Knowledge of Power” that is exhibited in the Shakespeare works

Reason No. 94: Shakespeare’s “immediate predecessors” worked under Oxford’s patronage and guidance

Reason No. 95 (Part One): The Shadowy Figure of Christopher Marlowe

Reason No. 95 (Part Two): Christopher Marlowe, continued

Reason No. 95 (Part Three): Christopher Marlowe, continued

Reason No. 95 (Part Four): Christopher Marlowe, continued to conclusion

Reason No. 96: “Oxford was with Elizabeth before her Speech to the Troops at Tilbury on August 8, 1588”

Reason No. 97: A 1584 Play at Court Performed by Oxford’s Boys was the Early Version of “Troilus and Cressida”

Reason No. 98: Oxford is the Only One on Francis Meres’ List with No Surviving Plays

Reason No. 99 (Part One): The “Taming” Plays in which Oxford Reveals his Identity

Reason No. 99 (Part Two): The Tale of Two Shrews and How it Reveals the Dramatist’s Method

Reason No. 100: How the Oxfordian movement began by looking for a special kind of genius and finding the conditions fulfilled

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