Primary Documents Relating to Christopher Marlowe

The following is a scan of the Privy Council's entail to Cambridge University dated 29 June 1587 demanding Marlowe's degree.  It is followed by a typescript prepared by Peter Farey.

"Whereas it was reported that Christopher Morley was determined to have gone beyond the seas to Reames and there to remaine, Their L(ordship)s thought good to certefie that he had no such intent, but that in all his accions he had behaued himself orderlie and discreetelie wherebie he had done her ma(jes)tie good seruice, and deserued to be rewarded for his faithfull dealinge: Their L(ordship)s request was thst the rumor thereof should be allaied by all possible means, and that he should furthered in the degree he was to takethis next Commencement: Because it was not her ma(jes)ties pleasure that anie one employed as he had been in matters touching the benefitt of his Countrie should be defamed by those that are ignorant in th'affaires he went about"  

Peter reminds us, "This had been signed by the 'Lord Archbishop' (Whitgift), 'Lord  Chancelor' (Hatton), 'Lord Threasurer' (Burghley), 'Lord Chamberlaine' (Hunsdon) and 'Mr Comptroler' (Crofts'. It is  worth remembering that Lord Burghley was also Chancellor of the University!"

Marlowe is believed to have died, from being stabbed in the face on 30 May 1593, however there is considerable evidence this death was faked.  In the following scan is the church record in Deptford, Kent for a burial on 1 June 1593 said to have been his.  Curiously no gravestone, let alone, monument,  to Marlowe, already the realm's most gifted poet and dramatist, was placed by any of his my powerful friends and patrons.

However Marlowe may not have been killed that evening and his friend and fellow agent Nicholas Faunt has been discovered just a few hours sailing from Deptford, Kent, in Dover, Kent and engaged in sending English agents out of the country on the day following.  For photographic proof of this click on See Faunt after you have read the materials below.

The following is a scan of a transcription of a diplomatic dispatch sent to the Privy Council dated nine years after Christopher Marlowe is believed to have died.  It is scanned from Professor Leslie Hotson' book, The Death of Christopher Marlowe, which uncovered the official inquest records.

This Trinity Marlowe proves dead in 1596, having remained to teach at his university, after taking his MA the year before Marlowe took his (1586).  This Trinity scholar's will was witnessed by Hugh Holland, who would later write a dedication to "Shakespeare" in an advertisement appearing in the First Folio of Shakespeare.  

So the question is which of the two dead Christopher Marlowe's was at Valladolid between 1599 and 1602?

The Valladolid register attest to his appearance there on 20/30 May 1599 or precisely six years to the day from the date of Marlowe last official appearance before the Privy Council and or "death" depending on which calendar is used.  Parallel records have proven that Cervantes was also at Valladolid during this same period and that the marvelous Jacobean translation of Cervantes' novel, Don Quixote, long thought to have been translated by Thomas Shelton, supposedly the brother-n-law of Sir Thomas Walsingham, with whom Marlowe was staying when he was arrested in May 1593, wasn't Shelton's. "T.S." or "Thomas Shelton" has proven a nom de plume for a master translator who seems to have been at Valladolid while Don Quixote was being written, due to parallels that can best be explained by collaboration between Cervantes and "T.S."  Given that we know Christopher Marlowe, a master translator, was at Valladolid during this period, I would suggest the assumption that he was "T.S." is reasonable.  

The fact we know another Kings School scholar, Father Weston, became Provost at Valladolid and that Marlowe was thought to have studied at "Reames" the Catholic English seminary in France, ten years earlier, makes the assumption more likely yet.

This conjecture is supported further by a Gatehouse Prison record showing that "Christopher Marlowe" had returned to England in 1603, as Vaughan had predicted.  The puzzling thing is that Sir Robert Cecil, who overlapped at Cambridge with our Marlowe, did not charge this Christopher Marlowe with any crimes, but merely paid for his lodging.  

At this point in time Christopher Marlowe's alias is recorded by his jailor as "John Mathew" a very obvious cognomen for a priest.  

One of these names (Mathews) was a Cambridge scholar,  but that man does not prove an expatriate who studied for four years a Valladolid.  So of all the possible candidates our Christopher Marlowe, the poet and cover diplomat, seems to have resurfaced alive and well in the diplomatic records of England nearly a decade after the date of his "official death."

I include a decoded cipher from a covert English diplomat dispatched to Bacon, dated at the bottom, "from Fontarabie [Spain] the 26 Februarie 1596" or on Marlowe's birthday.  In the coded dispatch the writer speaks of his possible return to England and his chances "by yr your good helpe, friends & protection, for I do protest that I am to my prince and contry in all points as a dewtiful subiect & for my calling as radie to serve as any man living & it may be if wee hapen to speak togeather I shall....importe her Majestie and the public [to my loyalty]."  A version of the dispatch, likely decoded by Peter Farey, is quoted in part in Wraight's Shakespeare The New Evidence, on page 77, but differs in a few minor points from this document.  The Lambeth Palace Library number is Bacon Papers MS 656,f.109.  The deciphered copy I have scanned is, thus,  Elizabethan, and is attributed to "Anthony Rolston" whose code name was "iio."


The sentiment in the dispatch is very similar to that found in the close of "Shakespeare's" Two Gentlemen of Verona, which concludes with these lines:

"These banished men...are endued with worthy qualities.  Forgive them what they have committed here And let them be recalled from their exile.  They are reformed, civil, full of good, And fit for great employment." 

It is thus a well established fact that "Shakespeare's" early plays, of which TGV is certainly one, and his final plays, as evidenced by the Tempest and Winter's Tale are all concerned with exiles and their possible repatriation, as noted by Howard White in Copp'd Hills Towards Heaven, Shakespeare and the Classical Polity.

See Faunt:

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