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Does “Sixeteene” mean “Sexton” or “Sixteen”?

As discussed in Chapter One, the crucial line setting Hamlet’s age at thirty is printed in the First Folio as follows:

Why heere in Denmarke: I have bin sixeteene heere, man and Boy thirty yeares.

Every modern editor has rendered this "sixteeene" as "sexton" or (as in Q2) "sexten."

Curiously, even editors who take F1 as their authoritative "copy text" choose to adopt Q2's sexten/sexton in their editions--often without explanation. Wells and Taylor's 1997 Oxford edition is a prime example. Even though they see F1 as representing a "playhouse" version, and their stated goal is to re-create the text as it was played by Shakespeare's company, they ignore here an F1 reading that is fully supported by Q1's "this dozen yeare"--which is presumably an account of actual performances. They instead violate their own editorial principles to select the Q2 reading, which is contradicted by both performance sources. They provide no explanation.

Thompson and Taylor's 2006 Arden 3 edition is even more egregious. This edition prints Q2 in one volume, and the F1 and Q1 versions, separately, in a second, with the goal of presenting readers with the original texts so they can make their own judgments on variants. But their F1 text prints "I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years"—both adopting and modernizing the Q2 variant. They relegate F1's perfectly reasonable variant to a footnote, saying "sixeteene" "seems to be an error"--even though both Robert Cohen (in 1973) and I (in 2002) have pointed out that it makes perfect sense as printed.

To see the kind of contortions that editors have gone through (and continue to go through) to deal with this "sixeteene" conundrum and others like it, it's amusing to look at the re-issues of the First Folio that were published after Shakespeare's death. F2 (1632) reads "Sexestone", F3 (1664) reads "Sexstone", and F4 (1685) reads "Sexton." Like modern editors, they were apparently trying support their preferred reading by imagining some poorly written word in the original manuscript's Elizabethan handwriting, which a compositor might have mistaten for "sixeteene." ("Sexestone"? Perhaps, but there are no such contemporary usages in the OED or LION (except this one), so it's wild surmise to believe it was in the manuscript.) They're probably influenced by Q2, which also has "Sexten" capitalized. After sixty-two years they eventually got to "sexton," a revision that (I think) the 1604 Q2 editor managed in one fell swoop.

But in fact "sixeteene" was a common spelling for "sixteen" in Shakespeare's day (and an unheard-of spelling for "sexton"). Here are examples:

White, John. His journals of the Virginia colony (1587)

...being strayed two miles from his companie, shotte at him in the water, where they gaue him sixeteene wounds with their arrowes...

Nash, Thomas. Lenten Stuffe (1599)

...the wall to sixe, though sixeteene moath-eaten burgesse townes that haue...

Porter, Henry. The two angry women of Abington (1599)

...for handsome men, Fifteene past, sixeteene, and seuenteene too, What, thought...

Sharpham, Edward. Cvpid's whirligig (1607)

...Then I am lighter by sixeteene pound now then I was,...

Healey, John. The Discovery of a New World (1609?). The third Booke. The Discouerie of Fooliana. Chap. 6, Fooliana the fond.

...circumference of the walles iust sixeteene gates, wherein (according to the...

Ravenscroft, Thomas. Pammelia. (1609)

...vs to spend there our sixeteen pence all out...

Coryat, Thomas. Coryats Crudities. (1611)

...Sometimes there sung sixeteene or twenty men together, having their master or moderator to keepe them in order...

Wroth, Mary, Lady. The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania (1621)

...and when I came to sixeteene yeeres of age to tell...