Marlowe and Nicholas Faunt
Many scholars have wondered what "track"
Christopher Marlowe was on when he became the Parker Scholarship recipient
in 1580, leaving the Kings School in Canterbury for Cambridge's Corpus Christi
College. Was he destined to remain a lowly cobbler's son? Or did
Elizabethan England have an express route to higher stations in the social
It turns out that modern scholars have a parallel case in
the life of Nicholas Faunt, who was also a young scholar from the Kings
School. Faunt's father taught singing at the Cathedral and would have
taught Marlowe and his younger brother Thomas, as Urry has noted. (Christopher
Marlowe and Canterbury) Like Marlowe young Faunt became a Parker
Scholar at Corpus Christi.
scholarship student at King's School the previous decade, Faunt resided in room
6 with another Fellow, named Harris (see graphic at left). A few years later,
Marlowe himself may have occupied this same room. This fellow was Thomas
Harris, later Marlowe's major professor or "praelector," who stood for
Marlowe's BA in the "Grace Book."
Harris proves to have been from Pluckley, Kent, the tinny village where the
manuscript of Henry IV, the so called "Dering
Manuscript," surfaced. D is a primitive unified five act play containing
all of the action of the two part, ten act play. Hardin Craig,
Louis Ule and I have all argued, in print, that D is the source play upon which the printed
two part versions was based. To
See Folio One Click Here
We know that the Marlowe's knew the Harris family, because Marlowe witnessed
the will of a neighbor woman, Katherine Benchkin, in the fall of 1585, who
mentions Thomas' wife in her will. (Urry, Christopher Marlowe and
Canterbury, 58, 7-0-71, 76-77 and 126.) Importantly
this was at the same time that Bruno was in Canterbury on his way out of England
and Marlowe is missing from Cambridge while Bruno traveled to Paris.
Letters to Walsingham follow Bruno to Paris and use a King's School
cipher. They are signed by a young man using the alias or code name
"Henry Faggot," who has never been identified. The hand is
nearly the same as the Italic hand of the Arrian Heresy notes said Marlowe's by
Kyd and kept for evidence against him. In any case the fact that Thomas Harris
and Nichols Faunt were roommates and from Kent increase enormously Marlowe's
ties to them.
Prior to attending Cambridge, young Faunt had already been working with
Sir Francis Walsingham in the secret service. Indeed he proves to have
been with Sir Francis Walsingham, Thomas Walsingham and Philip Sidney in Paris
during the St Bartholomew Massacre, about which Marlowe later writes, as if he
too had witnessed it. (Massacre at Paris) Indeed it was young Faunt
who carried Walsingham's dispatch back to Elizabeth in his head. (Read and DBN)
This early pre-college placement with Walsingham proves the secret service was
using young lads from the Kings School prior to Marlowe's appearance there and
suggests, strongly, that Marlowe would have found similar employment early on.
In any case, Faunt's life has been well documented.
An able linguist, he worked first for Sir Francis Walsingham, later for Lord
Burghley, and afterwards for Bacon. Indeed be was a lifelong friend of Sir
Francis Bacon, after the death of Anthony Bacon. He seems to have had
connection to Essex as well.
Faunt's track through English life, assures us that
talented young men from Canterbury were receiving accelerated treatment and preferential
placements. Given the exact parallels between young Marlowe and Nicholas
Faunt in home, school and employment, we can be certain the two young men were
friends and that Faunt, a few years older the Marlowe, would, as Charles Nicholl
has suggested, have been Marlowe's "entree" into this covert realm of
English diplomacy. (The Reckoning)
So scholars need not wonder as to where Marlowe was headed
in 1587 when the Privy Council demanded his MA from Corpus Christi, certifying
that young Marlowe had been engaged upon affairs "about which" the
Dons "were ignorant" and had proven himself a trustworthy agent
of Her Majesty's secret service.
More importantly Faunt , who traveled the known world for
his masters, proves in Dover, Kent on 30 May 1593, as we discover in a letter
posted at 9 p.m. that evening.
Dover, Kent is just a few hours of coastal sailing from Deptford, Kent, where
Marlowe was allegedly killed that same evening. Moreover Faunt proves to
have dispatched English agents to France shortly there afterwards.
Generally speaking English agents left on their own, armed with false identities
and passports, as we can see regarding M. Le Doux , so this maneuver is
suspicious on its face.
Also suspicious is that none of the dispatches between
Bacon and Faunt mention Marlowe's sensational death, something Bacon would
surely have known about and wanted to communicate to Faunt, Marlowe's friend,
since the tone of their letters is friendly. Where is the dispatch from
Bacon saying "the news from Deptford is that Marlowe is slain?"
So it looks as if Faunt didn't need to know about the events in Deptford and may
have been manning what is called a "back door operation," ushering
Marlowe out of the realm to France during the first week in June 1593.
At Dover this 30th May 1593 at 9 (pm)
In any case, Faunt should be viewed by scholars as a
parallel case when considering what station in life young Marlowe was headed
for. Faunt, who lacked all of Marlowe's genius, did very well for himself,
thanks to hard work, a ready intelligence and his contacts in covert diplomacy.
Marlowe's genius in covert diplomacy would have insured him an even greater
success than his friend Faunt.
For further information about Faunt see the DNB and
Robert's essay, "The Studious Artisan" in Christopher Marlowe and
English Renaissance Culture. Keep in mind that the DNBs essay
mistakenly places Faunt's home in another community. Canterbury and
Cambridge records have proven Faunt a Canterburian.
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