Christopher Mountjoy

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A French Huguenot tire-maker, who lived in London in a house at the corner of Silver and Monkwell Streets, in Cripplegate ward. His daughter, Mary, married his apprentice, Stephen Belott, on 19 November 1604. In 1612Belott brought a suit against Mountjoy alleging that he had not honoured his financial obligations in relation to the marriage. Shakespeare had lodged in the household, and was called as a witness on 11 May 1612. He is described in the deposition as a ‘gentleman’ of Stratford-upon-Avon. He said that he had known the parties for ten years, that Belott was ‘a very good and industrious servant’ and was well treated by the Mountjoys, who had begged Shakespeare ‘to move and persuade’ Belott to marry their daughter, which he did. Shakespeare could not remember the financial provisions, though the plaintiff and defendant were living in the same house ‘and they had amongst themselves many conferences about their marriage …’. Belott won the suit.

The relevance of this suit to Shakespeare is that it shows he was living with the Mountjoys at some time between 1602 and 1604, and that by 1612 he was living in Stratford-upon-Avon. The deposition also provides one of the few undisputed specimens of his signature.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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