Petty school and the parish
What is't, sweet wag, I should deny thy youth?
· · · · · · ·
Hold here, my little love, these linked gems
My Juno ware upon her marriage-day
(Jupiter, Dido Queen of Carthage)
Item, for two books of prayers against the Turks … 4d.
(Accounts of the churchwardens
of St Dunstan's, Canterbury, 1566)
BORN on a winter's day and baptized in a cold church, John and Katherine's son proved to be healthy, and they had cause for joy since the plague epidemic had begun to relent in January. The father was an outsider––his birth at Ospringe did him little good at Canterbury––but his status improved after the boy's birth. Even a christening feast, with its easy jokes, harsh laughter, and sexual banter, could have helped John in his relations with a tight-knit parish.
Although the infant was baptized as a 'Marlow', the family's name had more than the usual number of variant spellings––
Marlowe, Marlow, Marloe, Marlo, Marle, Marlen, Marlin, Marlyne, Marlinge,
Merlin, Marley, Marlye, Morley, Morle
With notable consistency––as if etching himself into the parish––John signed on seven occasions as 'Marley'. Indeed, his son's name appears in his one extant signature as 'Christofer Marley', though at the time––in 1585––he was signing a will and may have been following the spelling of