Richard Quiney


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(d. 1602)

Father of Thomas. As an alderman of Stratford-upon-Avon (which had been hit by bad weather and two severe fires), he regularly visited London for negotiations with the Privy Council on behalf of the Corporation. His correspondence on these occasions includes references to Shakespeare and also the only known letter addressed to Shakespeare. On 24 January 1598, Abraham Sturley, also a member of the Corporation, wrote to Quiney from Stratford-upon-Avon suggesting that, as Shakespeare was considering buying some land ‘at Shottery or near about us’, it would be worth asking him ‘to deal in the matter of our tithes’. On another visit he became short of money, and wrote to Shakespeare asking for the loan of the large sum of £30:

‘Loving countryman, I am bold of you as of a friend, craving your help with £30 upon Mr Bushell's and my security, or Mr Mytton's with me. Mr Rosswell is not come to London as yet, and I have especial cause. You shall friend me much in helping me out of all the debts I owe in London, I thank God, and much quiet my mind which would not be indebted. I am now towards the Court in hope of answer for the dispatch of my business. You shall neither lose credit nor money by me, the Lord willing, and now but persuade yourself so as I hope and you shall not need to fear but with all hearty thankfulness I will hold my time and content your friend and if we bargain farther you shall be the paymaster yourself. My time bids me hasten to an end, and so I commit this [to] your care and hope of your help. I fear I shall not be back this night from the Court. Haste. The Lord be with you and with us all. Amen. From the Bell in Carter Lane the 25 October 1598. Yours in all kindness Ryc. Quyney.’

The address is ‘H [aste] to my loving good friend and countryman Mr Wm Shakespeare deliver these’, and there is a seal.

This letter seems not to have been sent, as it was found among Quiney's papers. A few days afterwards, on 30 October, his father wrote in terms which suggest that Richard was still negotiating with Shakespeare, perhaps for the land mentioned by Sturley: ‘if you bargain with Mr Sha. or receive money therefor, bring your money home if you may …’. The implication is that Shakespeare was in London. A letter of 4 November from Sturley acknowledges one from Quiney importing ‘that our countryman Mr Wm Shak. would procure us money, which I will like of as I shall hear when, and where, and how …’.

Eventually Quiney's negotiations were successful: the Queen agreed to relieve ‘this town twice afflicted and almost wasted by fire’, and Quiney's London expenses were borne by the Exchequer.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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