Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 15, Vol. 2. Autumnal Equinox 2008

A Francis Garland Spyline

John Dee refers to a “Garland” brother in his writing[1] Shakespeare’s whereabouts[2] Marlowe’s whereabouts Other magical, theatrical, or espionage references to Garland or Hall

(John Dee’s diary entries begin in 1577.  There is no record of a Garland until 1586)

1581 In his will, Alexander Houghton asks his kinsman to take care of “William Shakeshafte.”  Honigmann argues this was Shakespeare, and thus places him in Lancashire among the Stanleys.


27 Nov 1582 license issued for William Shakespeare to marry Anne Whatley of Temple Grafton

28 Nov 1582 Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway of Stratford


Shakespeare’s daughter Susannah born in 1583; his twins Hamnet and Judith born in 1585.


17 March 1581 Christopher Marlowe matriculates at Cambridge.  He is referred to in records there until he graduates; his absences (such as from April-June 1583) also appear in the records.


1585 Christopher Marlowe graduates BA from Corpus Christi College at Cambridge.  From spring on, his spending jumps from pennies to lavish weekly sums., leading some to surmise this is when he was recruited into the Secret Service.


1586: John Dee is mainly in Trebona

8 Dec. Monday, about noon, Mr Edward Garland came to Trebona to me from the Emperor of Muscovia, according to the articles before sent unto me by Thomas Simkinson

 19 Dec. On the 19 day (by the new calendar), to please Master Edward Garland (who had been sent as a messenger from the Emperor of Muscovy to ask me to come to him, etc, and his brother Francis, E.K. made a public demonstration of the philosophers’ stone in the proportion of one grain (no bigger than the least grain of sand) to 1 oz and a ¼ of common and almost 1 oz of the best gold was produced. When we had weighed the gold, we divided it up and gave the crucible to Edward at the same time.

Not known—one of the “Lost Years”

April-June 1586 Christopher Marlowe misses nine weeks of class at Cambridge


1587: John Dee is mainly in Trebona

18 April: Dee writes that “After dinner, as E.K. was alone, there appeared unto him little creatures of a cubit high: and they came to the still where he had the spirit of wine distilling over out of a retort.”  After delivering what must be the most inaccurate set of predictions in Dee’s writing, the spirit Ben tells Kelley that “this Francis Garland was an espy upon us from the Lord Treasurer of England, and that Edward Garland is not his brother: and that so the matter is agreed between them, eke. He said that shortly this Francis Garland should go into England, and that we should be sent for, but that it were best to refuse their calling us home.”

 22 June Mr Francis Garland went toward England from Trebona.

 21 Nov. Saturday at night Mr Francis Garland came from England to Trebon and brought me a letter from Mr Dyer and my brother Mr Richard Yong.

18 Dec. Thomas Simkinson and Mr Francis Garland’s brother Robert came to Trebon from England, thinking we were ready to come into England upon the Queen’s letters sent for us. One other brother came also and stayed there. The same day: Mr John Carpio invited Mr Kelly and me, to his marriage, after Christmas.

Not known—one of the “Lost Years”

Spring 1587 Christopher Marlowe misses seven or eight weeks of class at Cambridge


29 June Privy Council tells Cambridge that Marlowe was abroad on government business.


2 October Marlowe mentioned as a courier carrying dispatches to and from Holland.


Nov 1587 another student elected “in locum domini” for the scholarship Marlowe had, leading most to conclude Marlowe is no longer at Cambridge.




1588: John Dee is mainly in Trebona

13 Jan. At dinner time Mr Ed. K. sent his brother Mr Th. K. to me with these words: ‘My brother saith that you study too much: and therefore seeing it is too late to go today to Crumlaw, he wisheth you to come to pass the time with him, at play, &c.’ I went after dinner and played, he and I against Mr F. Gar. and Mr Rob. till supper time, in his dining Stove, and after supper he came, and the others, and we played there two or three hours, and friendly departed. This was thus after the great and wonderful unkindness used toward me, in beating my man.


4 Feb. Mr Francis Garland and his brother Robert went from Trebon to go toward England. I wrote to Mr Dyer and Mr Yong.


11 June. Illustrissimus left Trebon, with his Lady, toward Prague. My Lord sent Critzin with his companion to salute me, and offer me help, &c., hora 1 a meridie. Mr Dyer sent word by Francis Garland’s letter: a letter came from EG  of Mr Dyer his being three mile from Trebona, but it was not so.


13 June. Came Francis Garland and Mr Edmond Cooper (brother to Mistress Kelly) to Trebona.


16 June. Francis Garl. went to find and bring Mr Dyer.

9 Aug. Tuesday, Mr Dyer went from Trebon, having in company Mr Edmond Cooper, Francis Garland, and his man Rowles.


6 Nov. Mr Kelly came home from Prague, and Mr Francis Garland, and Edward Rowles with him, etc., from England, they.


23 Nov. Mr Francis Garland and Edward Rowles, Mr Dyer his servant, went from Trebon toward England. I writ to the Queeils Matie, Mr Dyer, Mr Yong, and Edmond Hilton.

Not known—one of the “Lost Years”

Not known


1589: John Dee is in Trebona, then returns to England

16 Feb. Mr E. Kelly rode toward Prague after noon. John Carpio, Ed. Hilton, Henry Garland, Thomas Simkinson, Lodovick


26 May/5 June. Mr Thomas Kelly, his wife, Fr. Garland, Rowles, from Stade toward England.

Not known—one of the “Lost Years”


18 September Marlowe and Thomas Watson arrested for fighting a duel in Finsbury.


3 December Marlowe acquitted of murder

Edward Kelly’s poem “The praise of Unity for Friendships Sake,” elsewhere dedicated to “G.S., Gent” written or copied in Prague; it winds up in Denmark likely via England.[3]

1590: John Dee is in England, at Mortlake

17 Mar Jane apprehended hora a meridie. Sir Edward Kelly his letter by Francis Garland. 


19 Apr. I delivered my letters to Mr Thomas Kelly, for his brother Sir Edward Kelly Knight at the Emperor’s court at Prague. Francis Garland was by, and Mr Thomas Kelly his wife. God send them well hither and thither again.


22 Aug. I received letters from Sir Ed. Kelly by Francis Garland.

Not known—one of the “Lost Years”


Some assume Marlowe and Shakespeare are working together in Lord Strange’s Men and with Burbage at Shoreditch


Others assume Shakespeare is working with Anthony Munday.


Not known.


Some assume Marlowe and Shakespeare are working together in Lord Strange’s Men and with Burbage at Shoreditch




1591: John Dee is in England, at Mortlake


Not known—one of the “Lost Years”

Later, and under duress, Thomas Kyd says he and Marlowe room together in London this year.  He and Marlowe write for Lord Strange’s Men.


1592: John Dee is in England, at Mortlake


Robert Greene’s complaint about an “upstart crow” is often taken as a reference to Shakespeare.


Lord Strange’s Men and Earl of Pembroke’s Men act plays written by Shakespeare

January 1592 Marlowe arrested in the Netherlands for "coining" and deported to England


January 1592- Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus performed at the Theatre; runs through April.


26 February Marlowe’s Jew of Malta performed by Lord Strange’s Men at the Theater


Sept.-Oct. Marlowe sued by and countersues Corkine

June 17 “Will Hall” paid for spying on Anthony Munday. (Phillips & Keatman argue that “William Hall” is the spy name of William Shakespeare.)[4]

1593: John Dee is in England, at Mortlake

17 Mar. Fr. Garland came home and brought me a letter from Mr Thomas Kelly.

April 18, 1593 Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis registered in the Stationer's Register and published later in the year


January: Lord Strange’s men perform Marlowe’s Massacre at Paris.


April 22 Thomas Kyd arrested by the Privy Council; under torture makes statements about Marlowe

May 18 Marlowe summoned to Privy Council for questioning

May 20 Marlowe appears before Privy Council


May 30 Marlowe killed

28 August: “William Hall” travels to Prague with a dispatch from Cecil to Edward Kelley. 


Bäcklund, studying manuscripts from the Royal Library in Copenhagen associated with an alchemical circle around Dee and Kelley and containing the name “Garland,” notes that manuscripts referring to “Garland” carry the dates 1593-1595

1594: John Dee is in England, at Mortlake

28 Mar. Mr Fr. Garland brought me Sir Ed. Kelly and his brother’s letters.

23 Nov. Francis Garland came to England from Prague. Just five years past I came to England from Breme &c. as Francis Garland came now: but the Stade fleet stayed at Harwich.

19 May Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece registered in the Stationer's Register

December: “Will Shakespeare”, Kempe, and Burbage listed as servants to the lord chamberlain and paid for “several comedies” acted before the Queen. 


Bäcklund, studying manuscripts from the Royal Library in Copenhagen associated with an alchemical circle around Dee and Kelley and containing the name “Garland,” notes that manuscripts referring to “Garland” carry the dates 1593-1595

1595: John Dee is in England, at Mortlake

18 Mar. Mr Francis Garland came this morning to visit me and had much talk with me of Sir E.K.

Possible first performance date of early plays including
Romeo and Juliet
and Midsummer Night's Dream


In 1598, “John Garland,” referred to as one of the “Queen’s Men” who witnesses a 1595 loan.[5]


Bäcklund, studying manuscripts from the Royal Library in Copenhagen associated with an alchemical circle around Dee and Kelley and containing the name “Garland,” notes that manuscripts referring to “Garland” carry the dates 1593-1595



Too many to list


1598 “John Garland” listed as a 1595 player in “The Queen’s Men”


1601 the latest possible date that any of the manuscripts Bäcklund associates with Dee and Kelley could have been composed in Prague.   He associates the overall group of manuscripts with alchemical activities in Prague 1589-1612; notes many originated in England as early as 1579; others may have passed through England before winding up in Denmark.


2 October 1601: Agent “Willm Halle” returns with intelligence from Denmark.




Bäcklund, J 2006, "In the Footsteps of Edward Kelley: Some Manuscript References in the Royal Library in Copenhagen Concerning an Alchemical Circle Around John Dee and Edward Kelley" in John Dee: Interdisciplinary Studies in English Renaissance Thought, ed. S. Clucas, Springer Dordrecht, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.

Boe, J 1986, "Mr. W. H.: A New Candidate", Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 97-98.

Dee, J, Casaubon, M, Kelly, E 1659, A true & faithful relation of what passed for many yeers between Dr. John Dee ... and some spirits tending ... to a general alteration of most states and kingdomes in the world : his private conferences with Rodolphe, Emperor of Germany, Stephen, K. of Poland, and divers other princes about it ... : as also the letters of sundry great men and princes ... to the said D. Dee, Printed by D. Maxwell for T. Garthwait, London.

Dee, J, Fenton, E 1998, The Diaries of John Dee, Day Books, Charlbury, Oxfordshire.

Dee, J, Halliwell-Phillipps, JO 1842, The private diary of Dr. John Dee, and the catalogue of his library of manuscripts, from the original manuscripts in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and Trinity College Library, Cambridge, Camden Society, London.

George, D 1981, "Shakespeare and Pembroke's Men", Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 305-323.

Honigmann, E.A.J. 1985, Shakespeare, The Lost Years, Barnes & Noble Books, Totowa, NJ.

Hpkins, L 2005, A Christopher Marlowe Chronology, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, UK.

Nicholl, C 1992, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, 1st edn, Harcourt Brace, NY.

Palmer, B 2005, "Early Modern Mobility: Players, Payments, and Patrons", Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 3, pp. 259-305.

Phillips, G& Keatman, M 1994, The Shakespeare Conspiracy, Century, London.



[1] Dee’s diary entries here are crosschecked between Fenton, Halliwell-Phillips, and Casaubon.

[2] Dates crosschecked between Nicolls and Hopkins. At times their dates do not match: for instance, Nicoll dates the Privy Council’s letter to the Cambridge authorities as 29 June 1587 and Hopkins lists it as 29 May 1587. Where the sources conflict, I’ve listed Nicoll’s dates, as I have no access to the primary sources.

[3] Bäcklund.

[4] All “William Hall” dates from Phillips & Keatman; Boe listed for background.

[5] John Garland reference from George and Palmer.