Shakerley Marmion Criticism - Essay

James Maidment and W. H. Logan (essay date 1875)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Maidment, James and Logan, W. H. “Prefatory Notice.” In The Dramatic Works of Shackerley Marmion. pp. ix-xxii. London: H. Sotheran & Co., 1875.

[In the following essay, Maidment and Logan provide some background on Marmion and his family, discuss the editions of his major works, and delineate the “Argument” and “Mythology” of Cupid and Psyche.]

The name of the author of the following plays, three in number, has been variously spelt and its correct pronunciation consequently rendered doubtful. On the title-page of the first play, printed in 1632, he is called “Schackerley Marmyon, Master of Arts;” next year, on the second, he is entered as “Shakerley Marmyon;” and, thirdly, in 1641, he appears as “Shackerly Mermion, Gent.” Although Mr Singer, in his elegant reprint of this author's Poem of Cupid and Psyche, which emanated from the Chiswick Press in 1820, inclines to call him Shakerley Marmion, our bias, guided by the preponderance of authority, is in favour of his being designated “Shackerley Marmion.”

Shakerly, however, was an ancient family name in England. Francis, fifth Earl of Shrewsbury, who died on 25th September 1560, according to Collins,1 took as his second wife “Grace, daughter of Robert Shakerley of Little Longdon in Derbyshire, Esq., but had no issue by her.” Lodge says she was the widow of Robert Shakerley of Holme in Cheshire.

The name was territorial, and the chief of the family was Sir Jeffrey Shakerly of Shakerly, in the county of Lancaster. His eldest son George married Anne, youngest daughter of Sir Walter Bagot of Bagot, who died 15th February 1704, in the sixtieth year of his age.

Shackerley Marmion, it is surmized by Singer, “was descended from the ancient and noble family of the Marmions of Scrivelsby,” in whom was vested the hereditary right to appear at the coronation of the Sovereigns of England as Champion. Of Mr Singer's assertion there is no legal evidence, but it is certainly true that the Office of King's Champion was inherited by the Marmions of Scrivelsby.

The Marmions, Lords of Fontney in Normandy, came over with William the Conqueror, being represented in the person of Robert de Marmion, who obtained a grant of the castle and town of Tamworth, in the county of Warwick, as well as of the manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire, the tenure of the latter being hereditary service as Royal Champion, at coronations; an office which it is said his ancestors had exercised in relation to the Dukes of Normandy. The family became extinct in the 20th Edward I., Philip de Marmion, the fifth Baron, having died without male issue. His grand-daughter, Mazera, having been married to Alexander de Freville, he, in right of his wife, succeeded to Tamworth Castle. At the coronation of Richard II., Sir Baldwin de Freville, Knight, their grandson, then holding Tamworth Castle, appeared in virtue of the tenure to perform the duty of Royal Champion—that is, to ride, completely armed, into Westminster Hall, upon a barbed steed, and there to challenge the combat with whomsoever should dare to oppose the King's title to the Crown, a service which the Barons de Marmion, his ancestors, had theretofore performed; but the preference was given to Sir John Dymoke, to whom the Manor of Scrivelsby had descended by an heir female of Sir Thomas Ludlowe, Knt., by Joane, youngest daughter and coheir of the said Philip, the last Baron Marmion of Tamworth. The representative of that family is till the present day Hereditary Champion of England. The Earls Ferrers are the descendants, and possess the estates of the family of Freville.

The form and ceremony observed in introducing the Champion on the day of the Coronation of James II. is given in a History of his Coronation, “illustrated with exquisite Sculptures, and published by his Majesty's especial command, by Francis Sandford, Lancaster Herald of Arms, anno 1687:”—

Before the second course was brought in, Sir Charles Dymoke, Knt., the King's Champion—son and heir of Sir Edward Dymoke, Knt., who performed the like service at the coronation of his Majesty Charles II.—completely armed in one of his majesty's best suits of white armour, mounted on a goodly white horse, richly caparisoned, entered the hall in manner following, viz.:—

Two trumpets, with the champion's arms on their banner.

The Serjeant trumpet, with his mace on his shoulder; two serjeants at arms, with their maces on their shoulders.

The champion's two esquires, richly habited; one on the right hand, with the champion's lance carried upright; the other on the left hand, with his target, and the champion's arms depicted thereon.

York Herald, with a paper in his hand, containing the words of the challenge.

The champion on horseback, with a gauntlet in his right hand, his helmet on his head, adorned with a great plume of feathers, white, blue, and red.

On his right “The Earl Marshall in his robes and coronet on horseback, with marshall's staff in his hand.” On his left “The Lord High Constable in his robes and coronet on horseback, with the constable's staff.”

Four pages, richly apparelled, attendants on the Champion.

The passage to their Majesties' table being cleared by the Knight Marshall, York herald, with a loud voice, proclaimed the Champion's challenge, viz.:—

“If any person, of what degree soever, high or low, shall deny or gainsay our Sovereign Lord King, &c., &c., &c., to be right heir to the imperial crown of this realm of England, or that he ought not to enjoy the same, here is his Champion, who saith that he lieth, and is a false traitor, being ready in person to combat with him; and in this quarrel will adventure his life against him on what day soever he shall be appointed.”

And then the Champion threw down his gauntlet. The gauntlet having lain some short time, the said York herald took it up, and delivered it again to the Champion.

Then advancing in the same order to the middle of the hall, the said herald made proclamation as before, and the Champion threw down his gauntlet; which, after having lain a little time, was taken up by the herald and delivered to him again.

Lastly, advancing to the foot of the steps, York herald, and those who preceded him, going to the top of the steps, made proclamation a third time, at the end whereof the Champion again cast down his gauntlet, which after some time being taken up and redelivered to him by the herald, he made a low obeisance to his Majesty. Whereupon his Majesty's Cup-bearer bringing to the King a gilt bowl of wine, with a cover, his Majesty drank to the Champion, and sent him the said bowl by the cup-bearer, accompanied with his assistants, which the Champion—having put on his gauntlet—received, and retiring a little space, drank thereof, and made his humble reverence to his Majesty; and, being accompanied as before, departed out of the hall, taking the said bowl and cover with him as his fee.

In the British Museum is a MS. purporting to be a Mandate of Henry VI. to R. Rolleston, Keeper of his Majesty's Wardrobe, to deliver to P. Dymoke, such furniture, &c., as King's Champion on the day of the Coronation, as his ancestors were accustomed to have.2

Philip de Marmion was twice married. By his first wife his territorial lordship of Tamworth passed to the representative of his eldest daughter Joane, and latterly vested in the ancient family of Freville; thereafter by descent it came to the Lords de Ferrers. In this line it is understood that whatever right there may be to the Barony by tenure it is vested in their present representative, but it is very improbable that any attempt will ever again be made to raise any claim to an honour of this description, after the decision against the late Lord Fitzharding, who, in virtue of his possession of Berkeley Castle, unsuccessfully asserted a right to sit in the House of Lords. Serious doubts have been entertained of the soundness of the decision given by that very capricious tribunal—if it can be so termed—a Committee of Privileges. To console the claimant for his want of success he was gratified by Government with a modern Barony of Fitzharding—one of the old titles of the Earls of Berkeley. This has been mentioned to shew that the claim which was brought before the House of Peers at the beginning of this century by another descendant of Philip de Marmion to the dignity of a Baron was unfounded, and could not be maintained in virtue of his descent from Joane, Lord Marmion's youngest daughter by his second marriage, whose grand-daughter, marrying Sir John Dymoke, Kt.,...

(The entire section is 3817 words.)

Alice Jones Nearing (essay date 1944)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Nearing, Alice Jones. “Marmion's Family Background, His Life, and Works” and “Cupid and Psyche—Its Relation to the Amatory Mythological Poetry of Its Time.” In Cupid and Psyche, by Shakerly Marmion—A Critical Edition, with an Account of Marmion's Life and Works, pp. 11-34; 59-67. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1944.

[In the following essays, Nearing discusses Marmion's background and career, his status as a literary figure, and the relation of Cupid and Psyche to the tradition of amatory mythological poetry.]



(The entire section is 14539 words.)

Jackson I. Cope (essay date 1957)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Cope, Jackson I. “Shakerly Marmion and Pope's Rape of the Lock.Modern Language Notes 27, no. 4 (April 1957): 265-67.

[In the following essay, Cope suggests that a key scene in Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock was anticipated in Marmion's Cupid and Psyche.]

The Abbe de Montfaucon de Villars' Le Comte de Gabalis (1670) provided Pope with the immediate source of Belinda's sylphs. But Pope, citing “Antient Traditions of the Rabbi's” for authority, departed from de Villars in utilizing the sylphs as Betty's better part at Belinda's toilet.1 And commentators have agreed that “Pope's originality most obviously shows...

(The entire section is 1141 words.)

W. R. Gair (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gair, W. R. “The Politics of Scholarship: A Dramatic Comment on the Autocracy of Charles I.” In The Elizabethan Theatre III, edited by David Galloway, pp. 100-18. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1973.

[In the following essay, Gair claims that the incident involving the threatened seizure of Veterano's books in The Antiquary had a powerful effect on Marmion's audience, and he maintains that this can best be understood in terms of the history of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries.]

The central incident in the main plot of Shackerly Marmion's The Antiquary occurs when Veterano, the antiquarian of the title, is told that


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Richard Sonnenshein (essay date 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Sonnenshein, Richard. “Critical Introduction.” In A Fine Companion by Shakerly Marmion (1633): A Critical Edition, pp. 1-68. New York: Garland Publishing, 1979.

[In the following excerpt, Sonnenshein summarizes the action of Marmion's major plays, discusses the dramatist's literary influences, and assesses his position in Caroline theater.]


Each of Marmion's comedies reveals a notable advance in the use of plot devices and the capabilities of the theater. In just three plays he moved from the diffuse, often static, sometimes hard to follow Holland's Leaguer to the skillfully integrated...

(The entire section is 11374 words.)