Copy of the York Herald’s complaint about Shakespeare's coat of arms


In 1596 John Shakespeare and his son William were granted a coat of arms by the College of Arms, elevating them to the rank of gentlemen. In 1602 Ralph Brooke, the York Herald from the College of Arms, included it in a list of coats of arms that should not have been granted, because the recipients were unworthy or because the arms were too similar to ones already established. In this manuscript copy of Brooke’s complaint, made around 1700, the Shakespeare arms are annotated ‘the player’ – it may have been William’s lowly profession to which Brooke objected.

Full title:
Copy of A note of some coats and crests lately come to my hands given by William Dethick when he was York herald
original c. 1600, copy c. 1700
Ralph Brooke
Usage terms

Folger V.a.350. Used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Held by
Folger Shakespeare Library

Related articles

Shakespeare’s London

Article by:
Eric Rasmussen, Ian DeJong
Shakespeare’s life and world

Early modern London was an expanding metropolis filled with diverse life, from courtiers, merchants and artisans to prostitutes, beggars and cutpurses. Here Professor Eric Rasmussen and Ian DeJong describe the city that shaped Shakespeare's imagination.

Shakespeare's childhood and education

Article by:
Simon Callow
Shakespeare’s life and world

From plague in the family to young love, Simon Callow explores Shakespeare's early life as the son of a glove-maker in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare's life

Article by:
Andrew Dickson
Shakespeare’s life and world

From Stratford to London (and back again), from ‘upstart crow’ to 'wonder of our stage', Andrew Dickson recounts some of the details of William Shakespeare’s life.

Related collection items