The Shakespeare Timeline
We've put together a timeline containing some of the dates important to the Shakespeare evidence...
Shakespeare Bust

The Timeline of Edward De Vere

This timeline has been compiled from the excellent De Vere Society site resource. The original can be found here... Edward De Vere Timeline at the De Vere Society.

  • Edward de Vere born at Castle Hedingham on April 12th, as recorded in Burghley’s Diary.
  • Edward de Vere matriculates at Queens’ College, Cambridge.
  • In November Elizabeth is crowned Queen with Edward de Vere’s father, the 16th Earl of Oxford, coming out of retirement to escort her from Hatfield to London.
  • Edward de Vere’s father is buried on 31st August.
  • On 3rd September Edward de Vere, as 17th Earl of Oxford, rides into London escorted by one hundred men in livery to take up residence as a Royal Ward of Court at the London home of Sir William Cecil who, as Secretary of State, is the head of Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council.
  • Edward de Vere’s title as Earl of Oxford is challenged by the husband of his half-sister Katherine de Vere. The challenge fails.
  • On 19th August the 13-year-old Edward de Vere addresses a letter to William Cecil in fluent French.
  • While on a Royal progress to Cambridge University, Edward de Vere is awarded, by virtue of his ‘rare learning and excellent virtue’ an honorary degree of MA.
  • Arthur Golding praises the ‘pregnancy of wit and ripeness of understanding’ of his prodigious young nephew Edward de Vere in his dedication to Trogus Pompeius.
  • While on a Royal progress to Oxford University in September, Edward de Vere is awarded an honorary degree of MA and praised in a public oration as a ‘lover of poety’ and an ‘exceptional person’ by George Coryate.
  • His uncle, tutor and servant, Arthur Golding, publishes his famous translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a major source for Shakespeare, and Edward de Vere is admitted to Gray’s Inn to study Law.
  • He kills William Cecil’s undercook while practising his fencing but is acquitted and goes unpunished.
  • With the tacit approval of the Privy Council, Edward de Vere sends his retainer, the poet and soldier-of-fortune Thomas Churchyard, on a mission to the Netherlands.
  • His mother Margery (née Golding) dies.
  • Scholar Thomas Underdowne dedicates his translation of An Aethiopian Historie by Heliodorus (an important source for Shakespeare) to Edward de Vere, praising his ‘courage joined with great skill’, ‘learning’, ‘good nature’ and ‘common sense’.
  • Having sought leave of the Queen for some military service, Edward de Vere enlists with the Earl of Sussex for the Scottish campaign.
  • Edmund Elviden’s Peisistratus and Catanea is dedicated to him.
  • Edward de Vere, who is victorious in a Royal tournament at Westminster, is widely seen as one of the up-and-coming stars of Elizabeth’s court.
  • Dedication to Edward de Vere of Arthur Golding’s translation of Calvin’s version of The Psalms of David.
  • In December he marries Anne, daughter of his guardian Sir William Cecil, who, shortly before the marriage, is ennobled as Lord Burghley.
  • Edward de Vere writes the preface in Latin to Bartholomew Clerke’s translation into English of Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano (The Courtier).
  • He takes part in a Royal entertainment at Warwick Castle.
  • In September he writes to Lord Burghley wishing to be considered for some military service
  • Thomas Bedingfield’s translation of Cardanus Comfort (sometimes referred to as ‘Hamlet’s Book’) is ‘published by the commaundement of the right honourable the Earle of Oxenford’ after two years of planning.
  • Thomas Twyne dedicates his translation of The Breviary of Britain to him.
  • In a letter to Lord Burghley, Edward de Vere’s servants are accused of waylaying travellers on the Gravesend-Rochester road.
  • The distinguished doctor, George Baker, dedicates his translation of Oleum Magistrale to Edward de Vere.
  • Eager for foreign adventure, the young earl heads for the continent without permission – Burghley and Walsingham send a friend of his to bring him back and they conclude that his trip was not suspicious in any way. Indeed, his obvious desire for foreign adventure is noted with approval.
  • A Schedule of Debts is drawn up prior to Edward de Vere leaving for his Grand Tour of the Continent for which he departs armed with letters of introduction to the crowned heads of European states signed by Queen Elizabeth extolling ‘from her heart’ his ‘outstanding mind and virtue’.
  • On 17 January he writes from Paris thanking his father-in-law for sending him news of his wife’s pregancy:
  • In April he travels to Strasburg where he meets the celebrated educationalist Johan Sturm
  • On 2 July his wife Anne is delivered of a daughter, Elizabeth.
  • In September he writes from Venice to Lord Burghley acknowledging his daughters birth.
  • On 24 September 1575 Lord Burghley, preoccupied in proving the legitimacy of his daughter Anne’s child, notes: ‘The letter of the Earl by which he gives thanks for his wife’s delivery. Mark well this letter.’
  • On 27 November Edward de Vere’s letter to Burghley from Padua is endorsed: ‘The Erle of Oxenford to my lord from Padoua the sale of his landes not to be stayed.’
  • Edward de Vere wrote a letter to Burghley from Siena on the 3rd January.
  • In March Edward de Vere arrives in Paris on the way home where he is advised by one of his men, Rowland Yorke, of all the latest court gossip including news about his wife Anne and her child and on 4 April he expresses his ‘misliking’ of the situation in a letter to Lord Burghley.
  • Crossing from France to England, later in that month, Edward de Vere’s boat is attacked by Dutch pirates who loot most of his possessions. This so outrages Queen Elizabeth that she sends a special envoy to the Prince of Orange to demand satisfaction at this ‘disgrace upon her realm’.
  • On July 13th he sends a threatening letter to his father-in-law from London
  • Dedication to Edward de Vere in John Brooke’s The Staff of Christian Faith.
  • He invests a fortune in Frobisher’s voyage to seek out a Northwest passage.
  • Edward de Vere invests in Frobisher’s disastrous second voyage to seek out a Northwest passage.
  • He is eulogised before the Royal Court during the Queen’s summer progress by aspiring Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey who praises him as a prolific poet and as one whose ‘countenance shakes speares’.
  • Geoffrey Gates’ The Defence of Militarie Profession and John Lyly’s Euphues and his England are dedicated to Edward de Vere.
  • Lyly becomes Edward de Vere’s secretary and stage manager.
  • On June 21st, a letter from Dr John Hatcher, of Cambridge University, to Lord Burghley is endorsed: ‘Reasons why the Heads of the University object to the Earl of Oxford’s players shewing their cunninge in certayne playes already practiced by them before the Queen’s Majesty the like having been denyed to the Earl of Leicester’s servants.’
  • Edward de Vere had recently taken control of the Earl of Warwick’s players according to the letter.
  • John Hester’s A Short Discourse upon Surgery is dedicated to him and in the same year he is praised by Gabriel Harvey for in Speculum Tuscanismi, as ‘peerless in England’ and as an unrivaled ‘discourser for tongue’.
  • Having flirted with Catholicism, he denounces his cousin Henry Howard, brother of the executed 4th Duke of Norfolk, and his associate the Earl of Arundel as enemies of the state in a series of depositions. He is, in turn, denounced by Arundel and Howard. He would later sit on the tribunal at this treason trial of his cousin.
  • Edward de Vere wins prize in a tournament at Whitehall – his tournament speech is later published in Edmund Spenser’s Axiochus.
  • On 23rd March Anne Vavasour, one of the Gentlewomen of the Queen’s Bedchamber, is delivered of a son named Edward. Edward de Vere, who was known to be the child’s father, fled London but was soon captured and sent to the Tower.
  • On 9th June he was released from the Tower but placed under house arrest in Greenwich.
  • In a letter to Burghley 12th July Walsingham reveals that ‘Her majesty is resolved (uppon some perwacyon used) not to restore the Earl of Oxeford to his full liberty before he hath been dealt withall for his wife.’
  • On 13 July Oxford writes to Burghley thanking him for his liberty.
  • In December After the long estrangement Anne (Cecil) Countess of Oxford writes to her Edward de Vere hoping that it will lead to a reconciliation. All Anne’s letters are preserved, though none of Edward’s replies were preserved in the Cecil archive.
  • January - Reconciliation between Edward de Vere and his wife.
  • In March – There is a ‘fray’ between him and Sir Thomas Knyvett, uncle of Anne Vavasour, defending his niece’s honour. This is the beginning a long-running feud.
  • On 18 June – There is a violent skirmish at Blackfriars Thames landing stage between Edward de Vere’s men and Sir Thomas Knyvett’s men. Edward de Vere’s injuries trouble him for the rest of his life and on 22 June there is an enquiry into the Blackfriars skirmish in which witnesses give their depositions.
  • In year this Edward de Vere’s brother in law, Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby, returns from the first of many visits as Ambassador to the Danish court at Elsinore.
  • Lord Bulbeck, the new-born son of Edward de Vere and his wife Anne dies within hours of his birth.
  • Edward de Vere acquires the sub-lease on the Blackfriars Theatre and appoints his secretary Lyly as manager.
  • Edward de Vere’s second daughter, Bridget, is born.
  • In this year the celebrated author, Robert Greene, dedicates his Gwydonius: the Card of Fancy to the Earl.
  • He buys an extravagant mansion known as Fisher’s Folly which becomes the centre of his literary salon.
  • In a Royal tournament, held to celebrate the anniversary of the coronation, Edward de Vere once again carries off the first prize.
  • In December his troupe of actors perform The History of Agamemnon and Ulysses before the Queen at court.
  • ON June 25th Edward de Vere srites to Burghley to ask for a £200 loan.
  • On June 26th a Privy Seal Warrant from the Queen grants Oxford £1,000 per annum.
  • His secretary, Angel Day, dedicates his popular book, The English Secretary, to Edward de Vere.
  • He is praised by William Webbe in his influential Discourse on English Poetry as the only poet in the Queen’s court who ‘may challenge to himself the title of most excellent among the rest.’
  • At the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots at Fotheringay in October Edward de Vere is appointed to sit in judgement upon her.
  • In May, his fourth daughter Susan is born but his daughter Frances dies in her infancy and is buried on 12th September at Edmonton.
  • In this year deputy steward, Andrew Trollop, writes to Lord Burghley explaining how during ten years of service for Edward de Vere ‘and during all that time being privy, not only of his public dealings but also of his private doings and secret intents, found and knew him imbued with special piety, perfect integrity, great care to discharge all trust reposed in him, and no less desire to do good in the commonwealth’.
  • On 5th June, Edward de Vere’s wife Anne dies of a fever at the Royal Palace at Greenwich and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
  • Also in this year Edward de Vere fits out his ship (possibly the Edward Bonaventure) against the Spanish Armada and is later described in a poem as having stood ‘like warlike Mars upon the hatches’.
  • In this year the playwright Anthony Munday dedicates the first two parts of his translation Palmerin d’Oliva to Edward de Vere praising his dedicatee’s ‘special knowledge’ of foreign languages.
  • He is praised in "The Arte of English Poesie", possibly by George Puttenham but published anonymously. It names the Earl of Oxford as being the best writer amongst noblemen who must remain anonymous.
  • In his first edition of Faerie Queene (1590) Edmund Spenser praises Edward de Vere as one who loves and is loved by the Muses, identifying him as one of his book’s defenders.
  • He marries another of Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honour, Elizabeth Trentham, daughter of the wealthy Staffordshire landowner the late Thomas Trentham of Rocester Abbey.
  • Elizabeth’s brother Francis Trentham takes over the management of Edward de Vere’s near-bankrupt estate and gradually improves it.
  • In December he sells the manor of Castle Hedingham – the de Vere family seat from the time of William the Conqueror – to Burghley in trust for his three daughters Elizabeth, Bridget and Susan.
  • Madrigalist and composer, John Farmer, dedicates Plainsong Diverse & Sundry to Edward de Vere by the noted Elizabethan madrigalist John Farmer.
  • Thomas Nashe, who has recently lost the patronage of Edward de Vere due to the dire state of the earl’s finances, dedicates his Strange Newes to him as an anonymous patron, calling him ‘Gentle Master William’ and ‘Will Monox’.
  • On 24th February, Henry de Vere, son and heir of Edward de Vere and Elizabeth (née Trentham) born.
  • Edward de Vere, who has now withdrawn from the life of the court, seeks the favour of Lord Burghley in a matter involving he describes as ‘in mine office’ and that this office is beholden to the Queen.
  • In January, Edward de Vere’s daughter Elizabeth marries William Stanley, sixth Earl of Derby, who maintains his own company of players.
  • On 2nd September, Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, and her brother Francis Trentham purchase the large manor house of King’s Place in Hackney.
  • Towards the end of this year Edward de Vere is placed first on a list of ‘best for comedy’ in a ‘Comparative Discourse of Our English Poets’ in Francis Meres’ Palladis Tamia.
  • Dedication to Edward de Vere in John Farmer’s Set of English Madrigals, in which the celebrated composer writes ‘without flattrie be it spoke (those that know your Lordship know this) that using this science as a recreation, your Lordship hath overgone most of them that make it a profession.’
  • Doctor George Baker dedicates his Practice of the New and Old Physic to Edward de Vere, acknowledging the ‘great force’ of his ‘wit, learning and authority’.
  • Edward de Vere serves on the tribunal trying those caught up in the rebellion by the Earl of Essex who is executed, while the Earl of Southampton is committed to the Tower for life, which is commuted upon King James’ accession.
  • Edward de Vere’s acting company and that of Worcester combine forces and take up residence at the Boar’s Head Tavern.
  • On 24th March, Queen Elizabeth dies and is succeeded by James I (James VI of Scotland)
  • Edward's crown annuity of £1,000 is renewed by King James, who describes him as ‘Great Oxford’.
  • King James grants Edward de Vere custody of the forest of Essex and the Keepership of Havering, and he is reappointed to the Privy Council.
  • On June 24th Edward de Vere dies at King’s Place Hackney and is buried at St Augustine’s church (renamed St John’s) Hackney on 6 July.