Search billions of records on

The Shakespeare Family History Site

shakespear, shakespeare, genealogy, family, history, family history, ancestry, sncestors

Shakespeare's Family

Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, 1901



BY far the most interesting search can be made in London, that great centre where congregate representatives of all the families and counties of the kingdom.

It is strange that a William was one of the earliest recorded burials in the registers of St. Margaret's Westminster. "William Shakespeare was buried April 30, 1539." A comparatively modern hand has written against this the foolish scribble, "Query if this be the poet or not?" He may have been in the service of the Court, but there are no signs that he was a man of wealth. In the churchwardens account1 he was only charged 2d. for the candles at his funeral, a common charge, but not for great people. He may have been the son of the fifteenth-century William, or of Peter of Southwark, and father or brother of Roger the royal yeoman.

The discovery that Shakespeare lived in St. Helen's Parish, Bishopsgate, has been claimed for an American, though Hunter mentioned in his "Life of Shakespeare," 1845, that in the Subsidy Rolls of London a William Shakespeare was assessed in 1597 in that district.2

1 Churchwarden's Accounts of Thurston Amere and William Combes, from June 8, 1538, to May 8, 1540, 48th week, 1st year.
2 Notes and Queries, Seventh Series, vii. 483, June 22, 1889. Compare Third Series, iii. 318; Third Series, viii. 418; Savage's "Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers in New England," ii. 528; John Timbs' "Curiosities of London," ed. 1855, p. 238, and ed. 1867, p. 297; "Annals of St Helen's, Bishopgate," 221, 322.

[p 143]

The entry is: "Affid. William Shakespeare on vli goods,1 assesed xiii iiiid." The "affid." affixed to it shows that the Shakespeare named tried to avoid payment on some grounds. It has surprised many, and satisfied others as suitable, that the poet should have lived in this neighbourhood, near so many of his theatrical friends. But I do not think it is certainly proved that it was our Shakespeare at all. Two references of Collier seem to locate him in Southwark in1596, and in 1609, near the site of the Globe Theatre. Several of the name lived near Bishopsgate before and after his death.

John Scatcliffe, of St. Botolph's, Aldersgate, cook, bachelor, twenty-four, and Mary Shakespeare, of the same, spinster, twenty-four, at St. Botolph's, December 20, 1637;2 in later years, Nathaniel3 Shaxpere and Elizabeth---, widow, married August 18, 1663, in St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate; Henry Shakespeare, of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, bachelor (twenty-five), and Elizabeth Hartwell, of same, spinster (twenty), her parents dead, with consent of her grandmother, Elizabeth Gaye, of same, at St. Botolph's, March 26, 1663; William4 Winch and Abigail Shaxpere, married September 30, 1680; Francis Hill and Saray Saxpere, September 28, 1682; John Shakespeare and Edith Murry, married at St. Botolph's, Bishopgate, January 2, 1699; William Shakespear and Anna Maria Carter, both of this parish, July 9, 1733.

There was a Matthew Shakespere who, on February 5, 1566-67, married Isabel Peele in Christ

1 Subsidy Rolls, London, Ward of Billingsgate and others, 39 Eliz., 146/369, P.R.O.
2 Marriage Licenses, Faculty Office, Harl. Publ.
3 Bishop of London's Marriage Licenses, Harl. Publ.
4  Register, St. James's, Clerkenwell.

[p 144]

Church,1 Newgate Street. She was probably daughter of James Peele, Clerk of Christ's Hospital from 1562 to 1585, and sister of George Peele,2 the dramatist, educated in the grammar school there. They seem to have had a large family.3 On January 18, 1569, Johanne, daughter of Matthew Shakespere, was baptized, and buried on Febuary 11. On March --, 1574, Francis son of Matthew Shakespere, baptized; on August 27, 1578, Jane; on April 7, 1583, Thomas. There was also a Humphrey entered as son of Hugh Shakespere, Aug. 5, 1571, But as among the burials there appears "Humphrey, son of Matthew Shackspere, Aug 30, 1571,"  it would seem to be an error. Johanne, daughter of Matthew Shackespere, was buried December 26, 1572, the second of the name; Jayne, on September 5, 1577, the first of the name. Robert, son of Matthew Shackspeare, was buried May 5, 1580. Besides these were buried  Francis Shakespeare, October 7, 1571, and Robert Shakespeare, May 4, 1577. these might be grandfather and uncle of the family, which might have reckoned a William among its members.

There was a Thomas Shakespeare, royal messenger, in 1572, payments to whom I have found in the State Papers.4 And in "Archæologica" there is printed his request for payment, in 1577, for carrying letters from the Privy Council to the Bishop of London at Fulham, the Bishop of York at Tower Hill, the Bishop of Chichester at Westminster, the Bishop of Durham in Aldersgate Street, and to the Bishop of Worcester in St. Paul's Churchyard.5

1 Registers of Christ Church, Newgate Street, Harl. Soc. Publ.
2 He died 1598, and was at the time connected with the Theatre as shareholder. Notes and Queries, Seventh Series, vii.188.
3 Registers of St. James's, Clerkenwell. Harl. Publ.
4 Account of the Treasurer of the Chamber, 1572, et seq.
5 "Archæologica," Vol. xiii., appendix, p. 403.

[p 145]

Mr. Hunter and many others supposed that at the time of the poet was only one other of the name in London - John of St. Martin's -in-the-Fields.

In the churchwardens' accounts there were found notices of a John Shakespeare about 1605. Mr. French thinks that he might be the John, son of Thomas, of Snitterfield.1 I have worked through these books and the registers, and have gleaned a good many scraps about him. He appears these too early. John of Snitterfield was born 1581-82. John of St. Martin's, on January 22, 1589, was married2 to Dorothea Dodde, daughter of the Vestry Clerk (her sister Jane had, the year before, married a Christopher Wren) of that parish; and on December 23,1593, it is supposed he had a daughter, "Maria Shakespeare," christened, mentioned there, as is customary in that register, without the name of her father.

In 1594 Mrs. Shakespeare's sister was staying with her, as among the burials is entered, "Elizabeth Dod, from Shakespeare's."

John3 Shakespeare, "on the land side of the parish," in 1603, contributed to the new casting of the bells five shillings, and in 1605 was one of the sidemen. "Paid to John Shakespeare, one of the sidesmen, that he laid out at the registers office for putting in the Recusants Bills 3s. 4d." In 1609 "Dorithie Shakespeare" was buried, and her expenses brought  in to the churchwardens 32s. 2d.,  relatively a large sum, as Sir Thomas Windebanck's funeral cost only 16s. In that same year John contributed also ten shillings to the repair of the church. On June 20, 1613, the churchwardens "received from John Shakespeare, by the hands of Edward Thickness, the sum of £10, given as a legacy by Mrs. Dimbleby, deceased" (which

1 Notes and Queries, Seventh Series, ii. 247.
2 Registers of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields.
3 Churchwarden's Accounts, St. Martin's-in-the-Fields.

[p 146]

suggest that he was her executor), and in 1617 they "gave to John Shakespeare's daughter 7s. 6d." - a curious entry, which I cannot explain. She may have done some work for the churchwardens, as they often employed women; it may have been a debt due her father, a present on her marriage, or an aid in sudden poverty. The death of a "John Shakespeare, a man," is noted in 1646, in apparent poverty, as the funeral cost only 1s. - a different cost from that of Mrs. Dorothy Shakespeare in 1608. I had though it possible that this sum represented only a fee for a burial in another parish, but I find that theory is untenable. Whether the John of 1646 was the same as the sidesman of 1605 or not, he was certainly buried in the parish. From the vestry books I found many notices of John Shakespeare as contributing to the expenses of the poor, first on the "waterside" of the parish, and then on the "landside"; and I believed, reasoning from a State Paper Bill, that he was referred to in the entry, "received for a pewe, from the Princes' Bitmaker 30s., 1639-40." His name disappeared from the books long before 1646; and I fancied he had gone further east to the parish of St. Clement's Danes, which joined that of St. Martin's at several points. "Paid to William Wright for a stone engraved with letters on it, which is sett in the wall of the Earl of Salisbury at his house at Ivie Bridge to devide the two parishes of St. Martin's in the Fields and St. Clement's Danes in that place." I gave up theorizing until I could see the registers of St. Clement's Danes, and from various causes three years passed before I had an opportunity of clearing up the puzzle. These registers prove that in London, as in Stratford-on-Avon, I had been confused by double entries, and that there was another John Shakespeare. The St. Martin's John lost his wife Dorothy in 1608;

[p 147]

the St. Clement's John married his wife Mary in 1605. "3rd Feb. 1604-5, Johne Shakspear and Mary Godtheridg." He was the wealthy bitmaker to the King, of whom I had discovered notices in the State Papers and wills that turned my attention to St. Clement's Danes, a hitherto unsuspected locality for Shakespeare finds. I though at first that he might have been John the shoemaker who vanished from Stratford. But it was hardly likely that he should have changed his trade from shoemaking to bitmaking, or that he would have been successful in it. The St. Clement's John might have been a son of the St. Martin's John, but there is no christening of a John in that parish, or in any other London parish that I know. So here I though I might justly theorize, and state my opinion that he really was the John, son of Thomas, of Snitterfield, born 1581-82, of whom is no record of further life or burial in his own neighbourhood. He would be of a suitable age, and there was in his case a reason for Court success.

William Shakespeare the poet had by this time made his mark, not only in literature and the drama, but in Court influence and financial possibilities. His patron, the Earl of Southampton, was in favour with the King. Supposing this John was Shakespeare's first cousin, as I believe he was, what more likely than that the poet, who had lost his only son, would help, as far as he could, his nearest male relative? I trust to find further proof of this some day, but I may state what I do know about this St. Clement's John. He had a large family. The registers record in the baptizings: "John Shaxbee sonne of John 28th Aug. 1605." "Susan Shasper daughter of John 19th Feb. 1607." "Jane Shakespeer the daughter of John 16th July 1608." "Anthony Shaksbye son of John 23rd June 1610." "Thomas Shackspeer son of

[p 148]

John 30th June 1611." "Ellyn Shakspear the daughter of John 5th May 1614." "Katharine Shakspeare daughter of John 25th Aug. 1616." Now, to set against these we have the burials of: "Anthony Shakesby the son of John 26th June 1610." "Thomas Shakspeer the son of John 1st July 1612." "Susan Shakspere daughter of John 3rd Aug. 1612." "Katharine Shakespeare d. of John 26th Aug. 1616." Of two of the remaining children, John and Ellen, we have further information; concerning the other, I believe we have an interesting error, bearing on the credibility of parish clerks.

Among the burials appears that of "Jane Shackspeer, daughter of Willm. 8. Aug. 1609." Now, this might have been a daughter of the Bishopsgate William, or of some country William up in London for a holiday. It might even have been a hitherto unknown daughter of the poet himself. But I believe that the clerk's mind was wandering when he wrote, and that he was thinking of "William" when he should have written "John," because John's family seem to have been delicate and have chiefly died young, and his daughter "Jane" would have been just about a year old at the time. No other notice of "William" or of "Jane" appears in the register.

The phonetic varieties of the spelling of the name may have been noticed, but it is as well I copied all such. Among the Bishop of London's marriage1 licenses I find on "May 28, 1631, John Shackspeare of St. Clement's Danes, Bittmaker, Bachelor, 26, had a license to marry Margaret Edwards of St. Bride's Spinster, 28, at same Parish Church."2 The age of John Shackspear coincides with the age of John Shaxbee, which is the only resembling entry near the

1 Bishop of |London's Licenses, Harl. Soc. Publ.
2 Registers of the Church of St. Bride's.

[p 149]

date, and the trade and the parish are the same. He was duly married in St. Bride's,1 and soon afterwards christenings began in St. Clement's Danes. "12th April 1632, John Shackspeare son of John Shackspeare Junior, and Margaret, ux." "4th May 1633, Mary Shackespeare, daughter of John Shackespeare and Margaret, ux." "17th Aug. 1634, Mary Shackspeare, daughter of John Shackespeare and Margaret, ux." "3rd March 1635-6 John Shakespear son of John and Margaret his wife." The reason for the repeated names lies in the burials: "John Shackspeare son of John 17th May, 1632."  Mary Shakespeare daughter of John 16th Julie 1633." "Mary Shakespeare, infant, 1st May 1635." The more important entry of the burial of their grandfather is clear - "John Shackespeare, the King's Bitmaker, 27th Jan. 1633."2 The name of trade or profession was but rarely mentioned in this parish, and in this case it it fixes the State Paper entries. A large sum (£1,612 11s.) due to her husband by the Crown was paid to a widow Mary after the death of her husband, John Shackespeare,3 His Majesty's bit-maker, 1638, for wares delivered to the royal stables, and she had already been paid £80. "Warrant to pay to the Earl of Denbeigh Master of the Wardrobe £1612, 11 0, to be paid to Mary Shackspeare widow & executrix of John Shackespeare, his Majesty's Bitmaker deceased, in regard of her present necessities, in full of a debt of £1692, 11 for sundry parcels of wares by him delivered

1 Registers of the Church of St. Bride's.
2 Among the expenses of the Royal Household are entered: 1621 - "To John Shakespeare for one gilt bit for the sadle aforesayd £3 13s. 6d. To John Shakespeare for fourteen bittes, guilt silvered and chased, at £5 10s. a piece. For one payre of bosses, richly enamelled, 52s. 6d., £73 12s. 6d. For 7 bittes for the sadles aforesayd at 52s. 6d. each, £18 7s. 6d." - "Early Illustrations of Shakespeare," published by the Shakespeare Society.
3 State Papers, Dom. Ser., Car. I., ccclxxiv. 20, Docquet.

[p 150]

for his majesty's service in the stables, as by a certificate appeareth, whereof there has been already paid unto her £80. Subscribed by order of the Lord Treasurer procured Dec. 18th, 1637, and paid Jan. 21, 1637-8."

For some reason her daughter Ellen was made her heiress. Among the State Papers at Dublin Castle relating to settlements and explanations after the Restoration there is a reference to this lady, and there was some dispute about what she was entitled to receive. "It appears by an order of the Revenue side of the Exchequer1 that Ellen, daughter and heiress of Mary Shakespeare, of ye Strand, widow, was married to John Milburne." In Mary Shakespeare's will, December 24, 1553, she left to her daughter, Ellen Milburne, £60; money to her grandchildren Milburne; £50 to her grandson, John Shakespeare, son of her son John; 10s. to her sister, Anne Brewer; 5s. to her daughter-in-law, Margaret Shakespeare; 2s. 6d. to Sarah Richardson, her brother's daughter; and the same to Mary Shakespeare, wife of Thomas Allon (proved March 2, 1654).2

The Mary Shakespeare of St. Martin's parish does not seem to have died there. She may have been the Mary Shakespeare, wife of Thomas Allon, of the above will, or the Mary Shakespeare who was buried in the Church of St. Thomas Apostle,3 November 14, 1644. There was a john Shakespeare, who might have been one of those three now mentioned, or who might have been a fourth of the name, not very far off, mentioned as one of the defaulters by the Collectors of the Loan in the Hundred of Edmonton, and part of the Hundred of Ossulton, County Middlesex, in 1627.4

1 State Papers, Irish, Dublin Castle, Vol. M., p. 338. Notes and Queries, First Series, vi. 289, 495.
2 Somerset House, 268, Aylett.
3 The Registers of St. Thomas Apostle, London.
4 State Papers, Dom. Ser., Car. I., lxxvi. 41.

[p 151]

There were Shakespeares further west and further east than the Strand. Adrian Shakespeare, of St. James's, within the liberty of Westminster, left £550 on trust with his brothers-in-law, William Gregory and William Farron, for his daughter Elizabeth and an unborn child; his father, Thomas Shakespeare, and all his brothers and sisters to have a guinea apiece, residue to his wife Christian, November 26, 1714.1 Perhaps he descended from the William of 1539.

At St. George's, Hanover Square, William Fellows, widower, and Margaret Shakespear, spinster, were married May 28, 1730;2 at St. George's, Hanover Square, William Guy and Rebekah Shakespeare, of St. Mary-le-Bone, March 29, 1758;3 at St. George's Chapel, Hyde Park Corner, William Shakespeare and Mary Waight, of St. Giles, Cripplegate, July 29, 1751;4 James Barnet, of St. James's, Westminster, and Elizabeth Shakespear, February 9 1760.5 A George Shakespeare, of Westminster, Arm., matriculated at Wadham College, June 10, 1785, aged twenty-seven.6

Manasses Shakespeare, of St. Andrew's, Holborn, widower, and Mary Goodwin, spinster, of same, married at St. James's, Duke's Place, April 27, 1710.7

Benjamin Shakespear, of the parish of St. Christopher, painter, made his will 1707, and bequeathed to his father, Benjamin Shakespear, of Tamworth, in Warwickshire, his wearing apparel, and left a legacy to his mother Joyce, his wife Judith being sole executrix8 (proved December 4, 1714).

In the records of the Leather Sellers' Company is

1 Somerset House, 249, Aston.
2 Lic. Fac. Office, Harl. Publ.
3 Reg. of St. George's, Hanover Square.
4 Marriage Licenses, Bishop of London, Harl. Publ.
5 Bishop of London's Licenses, Harl. Publ.
6 Foster's "Alumni Oxonienses."
7 Bishop of London's Mar. Lic., Harl. Publ.
8 Somerset House, 248, Aston.

[p 152]

preserved the apprenticeship of George, son of Thomas Shakespeare, of Arley, county Warwick,1 October 12, 1693. George, son of William Shakespeare, also of Arley, was apprenticed 1732. Thomas Shakespeare, son of George, citizen and leather-seller of London, was apprenticed to William Jephson, vintner.2

An important branch of the family settled in the east. John Shackspeer, of Rope Walk, Upper Shadwell, appears in 1654. His father has still to be found, but his posterity believe he descended from the poet's grandfather. I had hoped to satisfy them through the St. Clement's Danes registers. But his age at his marriage precludes this, for it gives the year of his birth as 1619. The only john that I know to be born in that year was John, son of Thomas Shakespeare, gent., baptized July 18, 1619, in St. Gregory by St. Paul's. I had taken him to be the son of Thomas, the Staple Inn student and lawyer of Leicester, but I cannot prove it. On June 14, 1654, John married Martha Seeley,3 and had four sons and four daughters, of whom survived Martha, Samuel, Benjamin, Mary, John and Jonathan. A trade token of his still exists.4 Ropemaker Shakespeare was summoned, with others, to appear before the Admiralty regarding a breach of contract for ropes, January 26, 1656-57.5 John Shakespear, son of John od Shadwell, ropemaker, was

1 Notes and Queries, Third Series, vii. 175.
2 "Book of Apprentices," 1666-1736, f. 756.
3 His son stated that he was seventy-seven at the time of his death, in 1689, but his marriage certificate makes him younger. "Publications and Marriages, 1654: John Shakespear, of Ratcliffe Highway, ropemaker, aged thirty-five, and Martha Seeley, of Wapping Wall, mayde, nineteen years. Married before John Waterton, Esquire, on ye 14th June. Richard Mathews, Robert Connolly, witnesses" (French, 547). He might have been a son of John, son of Thomas of Snitterfield, b. 1582.
4 Notes and Queries, Second Series, x. 188, 402; Third Series, vii. 498.
5 State Papers, Dom. Ser., 1656-57, Commonwealth, cliii., Nos. 55, 56.

[p 153]

apprenticed to John Grange, of Upper Shadwell, chafer, 1663-64.1 Jonathan, the youngest son, born February 6, 1670, succeeded his father, who died 1689. He married,2 April 26, 1698, Elizabeth Shallet, of Clapham, aged nineteen, and had thirteen children. Samuel Wilton was apprenticed to Jonathan Shakespeare, citizen and broiderer of London, April 7, 1725. He died 1735. The business of ropemaking was carried on by the eldest son, Arthur, born 1699, who died 1749, leaving the property and business to his youngest brother John, on condition he brought up his heir to ropemaking. This John, twelfth child of Jonathan, born 1718, married, 1745, Elizabeth, daughter of Colin Currie, and Anne, daughter of the Honourable John Campbell; and had eleven children. He became Ropemaker to the Board of Ordnance in succession to his brother Arthur, Mat 12, 1749; Trustee of Middlesex Turnpike Roads 1751; Ranger of Waltham Forest 1761; Deputy-Lieutenant for Middlesex 1763; alderman of the ward of Aldgate 1767, sheriff 1768. He was originally of the Broiderers' Company, as was his father, but was translated from that guild to the Ironmongers', of which he became master 1769.3 He died 1775. "The alderman used the same coat of arms as the poet, there being but the one known." It is engraved in Noorthouck's "History of London," ed. 1773.

The Shakespear tomb in Stepney Churchyard records his death, and that of Bennet Shakespear, son of Jonathan, 1756, and Jonathan, son of Jonathan, 1768, brothers of the alderman; also Mrs. Elizabeth Shakespeare, his widow, February 15, 1807, aged eighty, at Bramdean, co. Hants; Arthur Shakespear, eldest son of

1 "Misc. Gen. et Herald.," Second Series, v., 371, and Merchant Tailors' "Book of Apprentices."
2 Bishop of London's Marriage Licenses, Harl. Publ.
3 Herbert's "Twelve Livery Companies."

[p 154]

the alderman, M.P. for Richmond, in Yorkshire, 1818, aged seventy; his wife Jane, 1805, aged fifty-five; Matthew John Shakespeare, son of Arthur, April 2, 1844; and several children who died young. The sons of the Alderman John Shakespeare and Elizabeth his wife were I. Arthur; II. John; III. David; IV. Samuel; V. Colin.

I. Arthur, the M.P. for Richmond, married Jane, daughter of Sir Matthew Ridley, and had two sons, Matthew John, and Arthur William. His wife died in Pall Mall in February, 1805,1 and he died June 12, 1818, in Albemarle Street,2 aged seventy. His son, Matthew John Shakespeare, willed away the Shadwell property to his cousins, the children of Mary Oliver, 1844. The rope-factory was destroyed by fire in the autumn of 1860, but a street in the neighbourhood is still called Shakespeare's Walk.

II. John. The second son of Alderman John was born May 6, 1749. He married, in 1782, Mary, daughter and heir of the Rev. William Davenport, of Bredon, co. Worcester, and of Lacock Abbey, co. Wilts, by his wife, Martha Talbot, of the old family famed by Shakespeare the poet.

The sons of John Shakespear and Mary Davenport, his first wife, were: (I) John Talbot; (2) William Oliver; (3) Henry Davenport; (4) Arthur.

1. John Talbot Shakespear entered the East India Company's service, and had four sons by Emily, eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray: (1a) John Dowdeswell Shakespear, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Bengal Artillery, who married Margaret, only daughter of Joseph Hodgson, F.R.S. He died without issue, April 6, 1867, aged sixty.3 (2a) William Makepeace Shakespear, (3a) George Trant Shakespear, who both died

1 Gentleman' Magazine, 1805. 2 Ibid., 1818.
3 French, 551, and Times, April, 1867.

[p 155]

unmarried. (4a) Sir Richmond Campbell Shakespear, 1812-61, "youngest son of John Talbot Shakespear, of the Bengal Civil Service. He came to England with his cousin, William Makepeace Thackeray, for his education. He served with distinction in India, was knighted in 1841, the only occasion on which he returned to England. His cousin, Thackeray, in the 'Roundabout Papers' (Letts's Diary), paid a tribute to his chivalry and liberality. He married Marian Sophia Thompson in 1844, and died at Indore, October 28, 1861, leaving a family of three sons and six daughters."1 A memorial-stone is raised in memory of him in the cloister walls of Charterhouse Chapel.2 Thackeray drew the portrait of Colonel Newcome from his elder brother, Colonel John Dowdeswell Shakespeare. His eldest son, Richmond Shakespear, Captain H.M. 36th Regiment N.I., died in India, August 12, 1865. His daughter, Selina, married, in 1868, Lieutenant Ninian Lowis, Bengal Staff Corps.

Mr. John Talbo Shakespear had also four daughters - Emily, Augusta, Charlotte, Marianne.

2. The second son of John Shakespear and Mary Davenport, William Oliver Shakespear, was Judge of the Provincial Court of Appeal in the Madras Presidency. He married Charlotte Maxton, and had five sons and two daughters. (1b) William, who died young; (2b) Henry, a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, who was shipwrecked in a frigate in the Indian Seas, 1833; (3b) Charles Maxton Shakespear, Lieutenant-Colonel in the Madras Army; (4b) Arthur Robert, who died in 1844; (5b) George Frederick Shakespear, Lieutenant-Colonel Madras Staff Corps, who was married, and had a son born in 1865.3

3. The third son, Henry Davenport Shakespear,

1 "Dict. Nat. Biog."
2 Register of Charterhouse Chapel.
3 French, p. 556.

[p 156]

Missing from site author's copy

[p 157]

Missing from site author's copy

[p 158]

The alderman's eldest daughter Sarah married Joseph Sage; his second daughter, Anne, John Blagrove, of Cardiff Hall, Jamaica; his third, Martha, the Rev. John William Lloyd, of Aston Hall, co. Salop; his fourth, Mary, Laver Oliver, Esq., to whose children the rope-factory descended.

Whatever may have been the fortunes of the other branches, it is very clear the the chief modern Shakespeares have descended from the Shadwell stock. John Shakespear, the second son of the Alderman, left a memorandum declaring his belief that the family was derived from the poet's grandfather. There has as yet, however, been found no proof of any such connection, though it is perfectly possible that it existed. If Richard, of Snitterfield, was the father of John, Henry, and Thomas, there were two possible lines of descent. Henry may have had children christened at other places than Snitterfield, whose descent no one has traced. Thomas had a son John, born 1582-82, clearly too old to have been the first John of Shadwell. He may have had a son of the proper age; but, as I have stated above, I have found no John of the right age, except John, son of Thomas.

A Hannah1 Shakespeare, born 1777, is mentioned in the pedigree of Esterby and Sootheran.

Henry Shakespear, of London, was a broker Loriner, 1775, connected with Hertford (see p. 137).

On June 29, 1794, was baptized Joshua,2 son of Thomas and Ann Shakespeare.

A warm eulogy of the charity and virtues of William Shakespeare, Esq., of Hart Street, Bloomsbury, who died in January, 1799, aged seventy-three, is given in the Gentleman's Magazine3 of that date; and in May of the same year the death is noticed, in Paddington, of

1 "Misc. Gen. et Herald.," New Series, i., p. 143.
2 Register of St. Bartholomew the Less.
3 Gentleman's Magazine, vol. lxix., p. 83.

[p 159]

George Shakespeare, Esq., son of the late George Shakespeare, Esq., of Walton-upon-Thames, and Pimlico, Middlesex.1

M. L. Jeny, in L'Intermédiaire, March 25, 1889, states that "he had read in L'Abeille du Cher of Friday, November 18, 1836, that a poor old man of seventy-seven, named George Shakespeare, was found dying with cold and hunger in the middle of the frightful night of Wednesday preceding, in Clarence Street, London, and was taken to the Hospital, and died there. He was one of the poet's descendants."2

So late as November, 1880, there was a Mrs. Anne Shakespeare who died at Brighton, aged 102.3

There are several American branches of Shakespeares, some of them literary, and two of the name are settled in Vancouver's Island.4

Among the list of authors5 we find the names of Alexander Shakespear, on the "North-West Provinces of India," 1848; Edward Shakespear, "A Book of Divinity," 1740; and Sophia Shakespear, 1753, a biography; Henry Shakespear, "Province of Bengal," 1842, and "Wild Sports of India," 1860; H. W. Shakespear's "Refutation of Mr. Tryon," 1847; John Shakespear's Hindustani books; Emily Shakespeare's "Tennyson Birthday Book," 1877; and Mrs. O. Shakespear, a novel, in 1895. Edward O. Shakespeare, of Washington, U.S.A., has a medical work on "Inflammation."

1 Manning and Bray's "Surrey," vol. ii., under Walton-upon-Thames, mentions the tomb of Matthew Shakespear and of George, aged fifteen, August 8, 1775; John Shakespear, of Weybridge, January 3, 1775, aged sixty-seven; William, January 23, 1783, aged seventy-seven; also of George Shakespear of Oxford Street, London, late of this parish, architect, who died March 29, 1797, in the seventy-fourth year of his age.
2 Notes and Queries, Seventh Series, viii. 89.
3 Ibid., Sixth Series, ii. 53.
4 Ibid., Third Series, ix. 346, 398.
5 British Museum Catalogues.

[p 160]

Mr. Russell French, from whose pages I have gleaned the bulk of the facts concerning these modern Shakespeares, expatiates on the glories of the later Shakespeare marriages. By the Currie alliance he traces back descent to the royal Scottish families of the Bruces and the Stewarts; by the Talbot alliance he traces back their pedigree to Edward I.; by the Davenport alliance he again connects them with the Ardens, through Sir Thomas Leighton and the eighth Lord Zouch, who married Joan, daughter of Sir John Denham, by his wife Joan, daughter and heir of Sir Richard Archer, who married Joan, the second daughter and coheir of Giles de Arden, grandson of Sir Robert de Arden, the descendant of Turchil; but these rather tend to glorify the modern branches than the poet's name.

It were to be desired that there were more concerted study of registers and other records concerning the name. Much more might thus be found, and much of the energy now dissipated in futile searches might be utilized in connecting the scattered links, because the study of genealogy is the ancient form of the very modern inquiries into heredity which interest so many followers of Mr. Francis Galton. It is after all worth knowing who were the ancestors of William Shakespeare, what heroic, chivalric, poetic, philosophic strains went to form the nature of the perfect poet; and it is of mildly sentimental interest to us that we should know whether any of his line is left on the earth. Of sentimental interest, I say, for rarely, if ever, does genius repeat itself, nor do different environing circumstances weld and mould genius in the same way. Its nature is very easy to kill, or dwarf, or distort, but it is our excuse for being concerned with those who bear the honoured name.

In the unsatisfactory inquiries relating to Shakespeare's

[p 161]

ancestors I have exhausted all that I can find concerning his father's family; but so much remains to be said concerning his mother's family, that in consideration of the old proverb, "like mother, like son," it has seemed to me worth incorporating into this volume some account of the Ardens.

August 2004