The story the the Shakespeares was among social advancement, claims Stanley Wells, reflected in houses that climbed from landscape farmstead come manorial splendour. Follow me the way were some family upsets: pregnant brides, lawsuits and excommunication...

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He is among the greatest writers of all time, and also our longing to understand as lot as we can around him continues. We know that wilhelm Shakespeare was born in 1564 come John and also Mary Shakespeare the Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, and also that he to be their very first child to survive previous infancy. During the Elizabethan period, child mortality was an extremely high, and his parental had currently lost two daughters before young william was born. The exact day of his birth is unknown, but his baptismal record survives, reflecting that Gulielmus filius john Shakespeare (William, son of john Shakespeare) to be baptised in Stratford-upon-Avon’s holy Trinity Church ~ above 26 April 1564. His date of birth is now celebrated on 23 April, since it was common for baptisms to be organized three days after a birth.


Who were wilhelm Shakespeare’s parents?

The story that Shakespeare’s family – among upward social mobility – is reflected in your homes. Begin in the tiny village of Wilmcote, three miles north of Stratford-upon-Avon, where the playwright’s mother, mar Arden, grew up in a small farmhouse built approximately 1514 by she father, Robert. Mary was the youngest of eight daughters by his very first wife; his second, Agnes Hill, carried with her two sons and two daughters. When Robert made his will certainly in 1556, he called young mary as one of his 2 executors and also left her a substantial amount of land and money, which suggests that she was a mrs of outstanding ability.


Mary Arden married the up-and-coming glover (and later wool dealer and also money-lender) man Shakespeare, most likely in 1557. Before long castle moved into his substantial double-house in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, now well-known as Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Mary had eight children, yet only 6 survived infancy. John gave the city loyal service, increasing through the ranking from the reasonably humble function of ale-taster to become alderman and, in 1568, bailiff (or mayor.) His applications for a coat of eight was unsuccessful in 1576, yet he to be granted one 20 years later, when he was stated to be precious £500 – a amount not to it is in sneezed at. He died in 1601.


In 1594 John’s eldest son, William, had end up being a shareholder in the troupe of players dubbed the mr Chamberlain’s Men, based in London. Three years later William demonstrated his commitment come his house town by buying brand-new Place, the largest home in the borough. It was demolished in the 18th century but historical excavations lugged out under the auspices that the Shakespeare Birthplace to trust have included to ours knowledge around the size and layout the the property. The had 5 gables, a courtyard, 3 floors, and also between 20 and also 30 rooms – more than sufficient to accommodate the entire extended family, if necessary. Indeed, cutting board Greene, city Clerk native 1603 to 1617 and a member of the middle Temple, who described himself as William’s cousin – the word might be flexibly used – lodged there v his family.

There would likewise have to be ample an are for William’s unmarried brothers, Richard, Gilbert and also Edmund, of whom little is known. Us do know that Edmund, 16 year younger than William, became an gibbs in London favor his brother, had a bastard child, and also died when he was only 27. He was buried in what is now Southwark Cathedral on the critical day that 1607 to the sound that the ‘great bell’ – the tolling of which price someone, most likely William, £1. Gilbert, who witnessed the deed of acquisition for brand-new Place in William’s absence, worked at one time as a haberdasher in London. That Richard we know only the he to be baptised in Stratford on 11 march 1574 and buried there on 4 February 1613.

William’s sisters Joan, born in 1569, married a hatter, william Hart, some time before 1600. Castle had four children: William, Mary, Thomas and also Michael. Joan’s husband passed away in 1616 only a week prior to his renowned brother-in-law, that left Joan life tenancy of component of the Henley Street house, together with £20 and also “all his wearing apparel”. She lived there until her death in 1646 when the house, together with the adjoining dwelling, passed to her kid Thomas, and also then to his son, an additional Thomas, by the will certainly of Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Lady Elizabeth Barnard. The property, determined as the Birthplace ~ above the earliest enduring map the the town (dated 1759), remained in the family till 1806. The line continued; man Shakespeare Hart, a chair-maker, was hidden in Tewkesbury Abbey in 1800 with a memorial the mistakenly described him as “the sixth descendant indigenous the poet Shakespeare”. Subsequent family members members emigrated to Australia.


Shakespeare’s marital relationship to anne Hathaway

In 1582, in ~ the age of 18, Shakespeare married 26-year-old anne Hathaway, who was currently around 3 months pregnant through their daughter Susanna. The Hathaways – tenant farmers v 90 acre of land in the nearby village of Shottery – to be acquaintances that the Shakespeares, and William may have actually met ann while helping through the local harvest.

To ensure the pregnancy didn’t reason a scandal, Shakespeare had actually to use to the Bishop’s Court in Worcester because that permission to hold a wedding at short notice. Between 1570 and 1630 the records show that only three men in Stratford-upon-Avon to be married below the age of 20 (the average age to marry was 26). Shakespeare was the only one of those whose mam was currently pregnant.


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an early 18th-century artist’s impression of ann Hathaway. We perform not have any definitive proof about what she looked like. (Photo through Fine arts Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

William Shakespeare’s children

Anne Hathaway, who married william Shakespeare in 1582, come from a farming household in the neighbouring village of Shottery. Their just son, Hamnet – the name a different of Hamlet – passed away in 1596, aged only 11. Presumably, prefer his father, he had actually been a pupil in ~ the totally free grammar school, though its documents from this duration don’t survive.

William and also Anne likewise had 2 daughters, Susanna and also Judith. Susanna, born six months after she parents married, seems to have been an completed woman with a psychic of her own. She to be reported to the Ecclesiastical Court for refusing to take communion in ~ Easter 1606 when, in the consequences of the dynamite Plot, the authorities were especially anxious to ring up possible Roman Catholic sympathisers. The case was dismissed. The adhering to year she married the strongly Protestant physician John Hall, and her father provided her the considerable gift the 107 acres of floor in Old Stratford as a marriage settlement, while supposedly retaining a life interest.

In 1613 her marital relationship was afflicted through scandal as soon as one john Lane declared that Susanna had captured a sexually transmitted epidemic from a married hatter and haberdasher named Ralph Smith. She effectively sued lane for defamation of character in Worcester Consistory Court. Lane, that did not revolve up to defend himself, was excommunicated. These occasions are dramatised in Peter Whelan’s effective play The natural Bed (1996).

The Halls are believed to have lived in the large and handsome house on the suburbs of the city now recognized as Hall’s Croft, which dates from 1613 and also may have actually been constructed for them; as soon as Shakespeare died in 1616 they moved into brand-new Place. Shakespeare left many of his residential or commercial property to Susanna and also appointed the Halls together his executors.

Susanna lived till 1649. Her epitaph reads “Witty” – that is, clever – “beyond her sex, yet that’s no all, / way to salvation was an excellent Mistress Hall.” In this period, education and learning for girl lagged far behind that for boys, yet there to be petty colleges in the town whereby both boys and girls might learn come read, write and do your sums. Susanna’s signature survives in the documents of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Shakespeare’s younger daughter, Judith, appears to have actually been a little of a handful. At the age of 31, less than two months before her father died, she married cutting board Quiney, son of a significant townsman, in divine Trinity Church – yet was excommunicated due to the fact that they had actually not acquired the unique licence compelled for marital relationship in Lent. Over there was factor to marry in a hurry: soon afterwards Quiney was accused the “incontinence” v Margaret Wheeler, who had been hidden with your illegitimate child. He pleaded guilty. Shakespeare made alters to his will seemingly designed to protect Judith’s interests. She and also Thomas go on to have three sons, all of whom died young; they dubbed the eldest, born quickly after his grandfather died, Shakespeare. Judith lived until 1662.

Shakespeare’s last direct descendant to be Elizabeth, born to Susanna and John room in 1608. He left her most of his silver plate (easily convertible into cash if she wished). She married cutting board Nash and they lived in new Place. ~ he died she married john Barnard, a thriving widower with number of children, in 1649. Once her mother passed away soon later on the couple moved into brand-new Place. A staunch Royalist, Barnard to be made a baronet in 1661. Later they moved ago into his ancestral home, Abington Manor in Northamptonshire, one even much more splendid house than new Place, wherein Elizabeth passed away childless in 1670.

So a family story that started in a modest farmhouse finished with Shakespeare’s nephew in a great manor house. What would Mary Arden have made the that?


Does Shakespeare have any kind of living descendants?

Shakespeare has actually no direct living descendants, yet there space still progeny of his sister Joan and her husband wilhelm Hart. His childhood home on Henley Street in Stratford continues to be in the care of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

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Stanley Wells is a top authority on Shakespeare. That is honorary chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and professor emeritus in ~ the university of Birmingham.