Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground

By Roy Kendall | Go to book overview

8

"A Whole Stable of Flanders Mares”

1

IN 1934 MARK ECCLES PUBLISHED HIS GREATEST DISCOVERY IN A BOOK which was to become required reading by all Marlowe scholars. 1 Nearly seventy years later it still retains its authority. Among the Chancery Miscellanea 2 at the Public Record Office, Eccles found a writ and a return into Chancery of a Gaol Delivery at Newgate, reciting the coroner's inquest on one William Bradley, who had been killed in Hog Lane by the poet Thomas Watson in a sword fight in which "Christoferus Morley” also took part. The incident is now too familiar to be rehearsed again here. Suffice it to say that in order to save his own life Watson "struck Bradley a mortal blow. The sword entered the right breast near the nipple, making a wound an inch in breadth and six inches deep. Of this mortal blow, at Fins- bury in the county of Middlesex, William Bradley instantly died.” 3 It would appear from Eccles's description of the incident that Watson was an accomplished swordsman.

As a direct result of the discovery of this material, Eccles was able to be the first to point out the connection between Marlowe having been incarcerated for a time in Newgate in 1589 (because that is where he and Watson were taken after the incident) and Richard Baines claiming in 1593 "that Marlowe had declared, `That he had as good Right to Coine as the Queen of England. and that he was aquainted wth one Poole a prisoner in newgate.”' 4 I shall discuss this connection in more detail in part III of this study.

The chapters in Eccles's book relating to this major find have, understandably, overshadowed other areas of his research. In particular there are two chapters in his book that have received scant attention. One, "A Dedication by Marlowe, ” I shall also discuss in part III. The other, entitled simply "Douai, ” I shall discuss here, as I believe it is relevant to the matter in hand because, as I shall argue, it is possible that Watson had been a seminary spy even before Baines left England for Rheims.

-117-

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