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In September 1556 John was chosen as one of the council's two tasters of ale and bread, a job for an able and 'discreet' man. He was burly enough to be a constable who had to deprive 'single-men' of weapons, and astute enough to be an affeeror, or assessor of fines. On 3 October 1561, he was sworn in as one of the two chamberlains in charge of the borough's property and finances. 9 We have no example of his writing -- though he drew his mark as a cross or as a pair of glover's compasses (an instrument used for making designs on the back of gloves); one of his marks resembles a glover's stitching clamp, or 'donkey'.

Vol. i, facing p. 81 (plate 6); The Huntington Library, San Marino, California, by permission (plates 8, 9); John Rylands University Library of Manchester, reproduced by courtesy of the Director and University Librarian (plate 12); National Portrait Gallery, London, by courtesy (plates 15, 21); Mary A. Porter, by kind permission (plate 22); Public Record Office (plate 28); Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, Stratford-upon-Avon, by permission (plates 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 29, 30, 31, 32). -viii- INTRODUCTI0N Research into the Elizabethans is of such quality today that new material about Shakespeare, his town, his parents, his schooling, his friendships, or his career comes to light continually.

4 14 Decorum meant knowing how to choose the appropriate word suitable to the speaker and subject, or how to play one's role in a deferential society. Through years of discipline, one might acquire a well-fashioned mind, with good habits to discern what was proper in relation to all things, places, times, persons. At last, one would take a role upon the public stage befitting one's status. John Shakespeare -- much concerned for status -- was to apply repeatedly for a coat of arms and learn that the College of Heralds conceded his father-in-law Robert Arden had been a 'gent.

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