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 strata?

    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.

As a 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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