John Ford was christened in St Michael’s Church in his home village of Ilsington, in Devon, on 12 April 1586. His father Thomas was a local landowner, and his mother Elizabeth (née Popham) was a niece of John Popham, a successful lawyer who a year after John’s birth presided at the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots and later became Elizabeth I’s Lord Chief Justice. In 1600, John’s older brother Henry left Devon for London and the Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, where, after a brief period at Exeter College, Oxford, John joined him two years later. Middle Temple was one of the law schools which together made up what Sir Edward Coke described in 1602 as ‘the third university’, after Oxford and Cambridge. But as well as training those who would make the law their career and educating the sons of the nobility and country gentry, the Inns were also a vibrant centre of literary and dramatic activity. The Hall of Middle Temple (destroyed in the Second World War but fully restored) was the venue for plays and masques, where, for example, on the feast of Candlemas, 2 February 1602, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (Shakespeare’s company, with the writer himself probably among the cast) staged Twelfth Night.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- The Text and Early Performances
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number