Wayback Machine
Previous capture 5 Next capture
2005 2006 2007
22 captures
18 Aug 01 - 19 Apr 12
Close Help

Marlowe Alive in 1599, 1602 and 1603???!!!

Few doubt that had Marlowe lived he would have matured into a writer capable of equaling Shakespeare. 

Marlovians suppose he did survive 1593 and became the writer "William Shakespeare."  Scholars now have good  proof of this survival.

It's complicated, as all these matters are, however there is no question that a "Christopher Marley" or "Marlowe" was seen alive and well during the post 1593 period.  Here is the text of a dispach to the Privy Council about his from Pisa in 1602:

This is a transcription of the dispatch to the Privy Council dated 4/14 July 1602.  It was sent by Vaughan concerning Christopher Marlowe at Valladolid.  It appears in Hotson's The Death of Christopher Marlowe.

Hotson, based on the evidence of the dispatch, supposed this "caterpillar" or spy to have been the Trinity College scholar, whose name was identical to Marlowe and who overlapped with Marlowe at Cambridge.  However that scholar, proves to have died in 1596, his will still extant with his college.  Below is a scan of that will:

This is a scan of the will of Marlowe's namesake, the Trinity Scholar, Christopher Morley (the forms of the name were interchangeable).  It is dated in April 1596 and an inventory of his goods was taken a few days later after his death.  Notice that "Hughe Holland" witnessed this will.  That's the same Hugh Holland who wrote a dedicator epistle to the First Folio of "Shakespeare."  Holland was a Trinity scholar and would, more than likely, have known both Marlowes.
Here is the page from the Alumni Cantabrigienses that seems to precludes the spy at Valladolid  having been the Trinity Scholar John Matthew[s].  The dates are wrong and he appears to have lived an ordinary life in England.
Not the original, but a printed copy from Louis Ule's biography, that shows the Christopher Marlowe Vaughan reported about, did return to England and was jailed.  Evidently under "special" circumstances, since this bill for his lodging, laundry and special foods was sent to Sir Robert Cecil.  Notice that the English records records his real name as "Christopher Marlowe" and his alias as "Mathews".  The reverse of the Valladolid entry.  Of the two the his English jailers were most likely correct.


Below is a Scan from Tucker Brooke's Biography of Marlowe discussing the two Marlowes.  Notice that Brooke knows that Jacobeans thought the Valladolid Marlowe was the poet.  The black over color is, in my copy, a magic see through marker, a highlighter, which appears black in the scan but is see-through on my copy. The name under it is "John Mathew".


Brooke's The Life of Marlowe was published in 1930 by Cambridge University Press and this is on page 33, in my edition.

It is clear from this that those there at the time thought this caterpillar from Cambridge was the poet/spy.  So my question to the world is why, if this is what they thought, should we, who weren't there at the time, think any differently?  

We should also note that if this man was the Trinity "Mathew" or "Mathews," as has several times been supposed, we can see that he was at Trinity in 1596 receiving his M.A.  This means he cannot have escaped knowing that the Trinity Christopher Marlowe had died in April of that year, several months prior to Commencement.   He cannot, thus, be likely thought to have plucked that name out of the blue for use at Valladolid.   

In all likelihood, whoever this Marlowe was, he thought the Trinity scholar still alive.  And thus felt secure in using his name.  

One can almost see it now, "no I'm not that Christopher Marlowe, I'm from Trinity college."  It would make a nice ruse in the days before the internet could have our photo and personal history on record in a second. 

The evidence is thus well in hand that Christopher Marlowe survived 1593, as suggested in both Famous Victories of Henry V and later in Henry IV.

Return to John Baker's Home Page