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Anne Line ran a safe-house for Catholic priests in London during the 1590s, a time when such activities were a capital offence. She worked closely with two of the most hunted priests in England, the Jesuit superior Henry Garnet and his fellow Jesuit John Gerard, and was arrested and executed in February 1601. Although seemingly little known, it has been suggested that Shakespeare alludes to her in several works implying that the impact of her life and death on her contemporaries may have been underestimated. This fresh look at the documentary evidence seeks to clarify Anne Line's identity and the circumstances of her life up to the exile of her husband in 1586. Findings include; strong support for the suggestion that Anne Line was indeed the ‘Alice Higham’ who married Roger Line in 1583, the likely location of her childhood home near Maldon in Essex, connections to recusant networks through an aunt also called ‘Anne Line’, and evidence, previously overlooked, that Anne Line was closely related to Giles Aleyn, a Puritan landowner whose demands for increased rent from James Burbage for the site of his theatre in Shoreditch led to the founding of The Globe in Southwark.
‘I sent my fellow-prisoner with John Lillie to my house, where Mistress Line, that saintly widow, was in charge’ (John Gerard, Autobiography, p. 137)