What is it about?

Though it is sometimes argued that Shakespeare derived the name 'Bardolph' from a Stratford man listed as a recusant alongside John Shakespeare, there are two historical precedents for a man of that name, both linked to key aspects of the Henry IV plays. This article explores the Bardolph and Poins who were resident at the property abutting the seat of Sir John Oldcastle, the man who was renamed Falstaff.

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Why is it important?

Henry IV has Bardolph and Poins committing a robbery at Gads Hill in Kent, a few miles from properties owned by Sir John Oldcastle (Falstaff) and the families of Bardolph and Pointz (Poins). The character Bardolph was so named when Sir John Oldcastle was renamed Falstaff, but the historical precedent for Bardolph and Poins (neighbours of the Oldcastle property) suggests the playwright used these names in order to continue pointing the play towards its original target.


This article arose as part of ongoing research into arguments used to defend the traditional authorship of Shakespeare's works: in this case, that Henry IV's Bardolph was named after a Stratford-upon-Avon recusant.

Dr Ros Barber
Goldsmiths, University of London

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This page is a summary of: Bardolph and Poins, Notes and Queries, February 2015, Oxford University Press (OUP),
DOI: 10.1093/notesj/gju207.
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