There is also to consider a later printing of the Sonnets. They were reprinted in 1640 by John Benson:
“Printed at London by Tho. Cotes, and are to be sold by John Benson dwelling in St. Dunstans Church-yard, 1640.”
In this text “Benson is notorious for rearranging the order of the sonnets into groups, which he presented as complete poems, for which he invented titles. He also changed the pronouns in several of the sonnets to create the impression that they were written to a woman.”
Its major curiosity seems to be that there are six sonnets missing from the 1609 Quarto. These are sonnets 18, 19, 43, 56, 75, and 76. And they happen to add up to 287.
However, an analysis shows that the publisher almost surely had the 1609 version at his side. True that there were a number of errors made in the reprinting, but leaving out six of the sonnets is quite an oversight, if it was one. There is currently no known reason why they were omitted. See the link below:
Cavalier Shakespeare: The 1640 Poems of John Benson, by David Baker
Benson’s printer for this work, Thomas Cotes, was an apprentice printer for Jaggard in 1597, and assisted in the printing of the First Folio. Cotes also printed Bacon’s Certaine considerations touching the better pacification, and edification of the Church of England:: dedicated to His most Excellent Majestie in 1640. John Benson published in 1651 A true and historical relation of the poysoning of Sir Thomas Overbury (collected out of the papers of Sir Francis Bacon).
And that the missing sonnets add to 287 fits what appears to be a pattern of the number 287 standing out in many places in the Shakespeare works. This number’s connection to Francis Bacon is strongly indicated by the reference in the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia of 1877. In it is found the tradition that “The first Grand Master, A.D. 287, Saint Alban, etc.” Also, “Saint Alban, the proto-Martyr of England, born at Verulam, or Saint Albans…”
As is known, Francis Bacon was made Baron Verulam in 1618 and 1st Viscount Saint Albans in 1621.
There is a fair amount of Baconian research going back over a century supporting a theory that Bacon was involved with the Masons of his day and there is also some speculation that there are numerous Masonic references in the Shakespeare works, a sample of which can be viewed here:
See also historian Ron Heisler’s article The Impact of Freemasonry on Elizabethan Literature, 1990: http://www.alchemywebsite.com/h_fre.html