Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/88

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lowed to brew their own ale, or to encourage tippling, or to serve poor artificers except at stated hours of the day, on pain of fine and imprisonment. Dogs were not to go about the street unmuzzled. Every inhabitant had to go to church at least once a month, and absentees were liable to penalties of twenty pounds, which in the late years of Elizabeth's reign commissioners came from London to see that the local authorities enforced. Early in the seventeenth century swearing was rigorously prohibited. Laws as to dress were always rigorously enforced. In 1577 there were many fines exacted for failure to wear the plain statute woolen caps on Sundays, to which Rosaline makes reference in Love's Labour's Lost, and the regulation affected all inhabitants above six years of age. In 1604 'the greatest part' of the population were present at a great leet, or law-day, 'for wearing their apparel contrary to the statute.' Nor would it be difficult to present many other like proofs of the persistent strictness with which the new town council of Stratford, by the enforcement of its own orders and of the statutes of the realm, regulated the inhabitants' whole conduct of life."

Between the years 1557 and 1577, John Shakespeare, the poet's father, filled at one time or another, all the principal offices of the corporation