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The Shakespeare Family History Site



Research Notes

At the time of writing very little research (given the scope of the project) has been done. What has been included has to a large extent come from easily available printed sources.

Transcribing of the Warwickshire Parish Registers continues slowly. As this information becomes available much of it corroborates information from other sources and allows the connection of several families found in those sources eg the Rowington families. Hopefully, when copies of the surviving Shakespeare wills can be included this will further aid genealogical reconstruction.

'Family Trees'

The family trees on the site include information from the following sources:

The 'IGI'

The IGI, useful guide though it is, has a number of problems concerning Warwickshire:

A number of notes from the IGI have recently been added to the 'Family Trees' in the 'Pedigrees' section to provide guidance for possible further research.

Geographical Dispersion

The earliest reference to the Shakespeare surname in Warwickshire so far found is in Baddesley Clinton. Those unfamiliar with Warwickshire may not realise that Baddesley Clinton is bordered by the parishes of:

These are the places where many of the early Shakespeare families are to be found.

A little to the north of this area lies the parish of Fillongley, which shares borders with Arley, Little Packington and Great Packington - there are clues that the families in these areas may share close links, and may be the origin of the families who migrated via Corley and Keresley to Coventry (sadly the registers of Coventry were destroyed in the bombing during the second world war and the available printed register was taken from the Bishops Transcripts which begin at a relatively late date).

To the south lies Snitterfield, sharing borders with Hampton Lucy and Stratford. These are the parishes associated with the Poets family. It may not be realised by all that Stratford borders the parish of Clifford Chambers in Gloucestershire - this may be the migratory route of the families to be found in that county.

To the west (and not much greater distance further away from Baddesley Clinton than the other areas mentioned above) we find the Worcestershire and Staffordshire towns of Dudley, Regis, Kingswinford and Himley, home to a large and well researched Shakespeare family.

William Shakespeare

Despite the passing of nearly 400 years since the Poets death clues to the origins of William Shakespeare and his family still seem to be coming to light. The assertion by Peter Lee in 'The Poets Lost Family' that he may have older, unrecorded, siblings seems reasonable - if we were not dealing with one of history's major, and supposedly (many researchers seem content to repeat what has been written before - it already seems as if his uncles left previously ignored descendants), well documented figures then many genealogists, presented with these facts, might be prepared to accept that the occurrence of the records regarding the Shakespeares in Stratford  relate to the same family: in spite of the later proliferation of the name this was actually quite a rare surname: little over 150 years (and 4 -5 generations?) had passed since the earliest occurrence of the name and the Poets grandfathers appearance in Snitterfield - if these records related to a town outside Warwickshire the idea might gain more general acceptance. However, genealogical assumptions, while logical, are often difficult if not impossible to prove.

Major Discovery

While checking the IGI for Canada, an entry was found which led to the discovery of the family of Thomas Shakespeare 'of Duddeston.' Further research quickly found him in the 1881 census living in Birmingham. His birthplace was revealed as Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire. Checking the IGI for further details of this family a baptism in 1612 at Breedon on the Hill for Mary, daughter of Peter Shakespeare was found. This Peter seems to be the one born at Wroxhall in 1593 - he is probably the ancestor of all of the Leicestershire families. What makes this more interesting  is the fact that John Shakespear, who appears in the Dictionary of National Biography, left a large part of his personal fortune to aid the setting up of what is now the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford - as his biography says - in the belief that he may have been in some way related to the Poet. As the Poets entry in the Dictionary of National Biography suggests his grandfather may have originated in Wroxall this suggests a possible relationship of which John Shakespear could not have been aware, but would no doubt have been pleased to learn.