Bellott v. Mountjoy
Stephen Bellott, a Huguenot, sued his father-in-law Christopher Mountjoy, a tyrer (a manufacturer of ladies' ornamental headpieces and wigs) for the financial settlement promised at the time of his marriage with Mary Mountjoy in 1604 — a dowry of £60, which had been promised but never paid, and an additional £200 to be bestowed upon Bellott in Mountjoy's will.
The records of the case were discovered in 1909 by the Shakespeare scholar Charles William Wallace, and published by him in the October 1910 issue of Nebraska University Studies. The importance of this minor case is that Shakespeare was a material witness in it; his signed deposition of evidence was among the papers. Several of the other witnesses refer to Shakespeare’s role in arranging the betrothal and in the negotiations about the dowry; he had been requested to take on these duties by Mountjoy's wife Marie. The papers supply a roster of persons with whom Shakespeare was personally acquainted: the Mountjoys and their household and neighbours, including George Wilkins, the playwright, novelist and brothel-keeper who may have been Shakespeare's collaborator on Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The papers show that in 1604 Shakespeare was a lodger in the Mountjoys' house, at the corner of Silver and Monkwell Streets in Cripplegate, London. This is the only evidence yet found of a particular London address at which Shakespeare lived.
In his deposition, Shakespeare admitted that he had played the role as go-between in the courtship of Stephen Bellott and Mary Mountjoy that other witnesses described. However, he said he could not remember the crucial financial arrangements of the Bellott/Mountjoy marriage settlement. Without this key testimony, the Court of Requests remanded the case to the overseers of the London Huguenot church; they awarded Bellott 20 nobles (or £6 13s. 4p.). A year later, though, Mountjoy still had not paid.
- Halliday, pp. 59-60.
- Kornstein, pp. 18-19.
- Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964. Baltimore, Penguin, 1964.
- Kornstein, Daniel. Kill All the Lawyers? Shakespeare's Legal Appeal. Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 2005.
- Nicholl, Charles. "The gent upstairs." The Guardian, October 10, 2007.