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The Shakespeare Family History Site



The 'Stepney' Shakespeares

taken from 'Shakespeareana Genealogica', Parish Registers, Census, the IGI, and information provided by David Wingate

Chart supplemented with information from the IGI and the Clerkenwell parish registers. It seems from documentary evidence surviving among the descendants of this family that John Shakespeare who married Martha Seeley was thought to have been born in 1612 and not 1619. This, of course would refute the earlier generations on the above chart - however it is now thought that the connection with Mathew Shakespeare is correct, as one of the grandchildren of John Shakespeare & Martha Seeley was also called Mathew, and the name Mathew also occurs in later generations of this family. The book which records this evidence seems to have been written in the mid 19th century, almost contemporary with George Russell French and may have been the source of much of his information on this family.

The family has a long tradition of descent from the same family as the Poet, and were using the same Coat of Arms at least as far back as the late 1600's. This descent is quite possible, as Gilbert, the Poets brother, was resident in London, and tradition both in Stratford and among the Stepney family is that Gilbert lived to advanced old age - which precludes him from being the Gilbert Shakespeare 'adolescens' (surely referring to a much younger individual) buried at Stratford: this burial possibly refers to a son of Gilbert.

A curious connection with Warwickshire is that the first wife of John Shakespeare (1619-1689) was a widow named Margaret Judd (the register entry and IGI spells this 'Jude'), nee Craven. Her first husband, John Judd, was the son of Valentine Judd, a London Goldsmith born in Little Packington. The Shakespeare family of Little Packington, and the surrounding area (eg Fillongley), like the Stepney family claimed descent from a brother of the Poet and used the same Coat of Arms.

The family lived and died for many generations in Stepney, where many records relating to them occur at the Parish Church of St Dunstans. Here, at 'Rope Walk' they carried out their ropemaking business. A number of apprentice records document the family both as masters and apprentices.

A long record of military service seems to commence with Arthur Shakespear:

Arthur Shakespear, 3rd Dragoons, fourth son of John Shakespear of Brookwood and Mary Davenport.  Arthur was present at Waterloo with the 10th Hussars as a captain and was promoted brigade-major during the battle.
Arthur Shakespear was born at Twyford Lodge, 13 July 1789. Educated Harrow 1797. He was a good friend of the Duke of Richmond and possibly through him obtained a Cornetcy in the 2nd Dragoon Guards in March 1808, joining the regiment at Chichester. Moved to the 3rd Dragoons in 1809 and appointed A.D.C to the Duke of Richmond (Col. Lennox). Fought in the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns 1809-1815. Later in the 18th Hussars. Arthur married 18 Sep 1818 Harriet Sophia, daughter of Thomas Skip-Dyot-Bucknall., Esq. Harriet died 29 Sep 1877 aged 88 years.
Issue of Arthur and Hariett:
1/ George Bucknall Shakespear, b 6 June 1819, d. 13 Nov 1895.  M. 26 Aug 1845, Henrietta Louisa Panet, d. of Bernard Antoine Panet of Quebec, Canada.
2/ William Powlett Shakespear, b. 19 Jun 1820. Died of wounds at the siege Samunghur, 30 Sep 1884. Ensign 15th Bombay Infantry 1939. Lieut, 2nd Bombay Inf 1841.
3/ John Talbot Shakespear.  b. 18 Aug 1821. M. Emma Waterfield 9th Mar 1854, daughter of Major W. H. Waterfield of the Bombay Army.
4/ Caroline Georgina Shakespear. b. 1823, d. 1824.
5/ John Davenport Shakespear. b. 29 Jan 1825, m. Louisa Caroline Sayer (she died 29 Jun 1897). He died 3 May 1893.
6/ Arabella Georgina Shakespear. b. 29 Jan 1825, d. 17 Oct 1896.
7/ Wyndham Arthur Shakespear. b. 26 Apr 1836. Took Holy Orders. D. Mar 1898.
8/ Robert Henry Shakespear. b. 8 Aug 1837. M. 12 Aug 158 Octavia Fenwick. Died in Australia 1st May 1888. He married again after the death of Octavia.

Sir Richmond Campbell Shakespear, a grandson of John Shakesepear and Mary Davenport, is commemorated on an inscription on the Cloister wall of the Charterhouse Chapel of St James, Clerkenwell.

He also appears in the Dictionary of National Biography.

He was a grandson of William Makepeace Thackeray (born 1749), through his mother Emily Amelia Thackeray. However, the connection with the Thackerays does not end there - Emily Amelia's brother, Rev. Francis Thackeray (1793-1842) married Mary Anne Shakespear, a sister of Amelia's husband. This means that Sir Richmond Campbell Shakespear was first cousin on both sides of the family to Francis and Mary Anne (nee Shakespear) Thackeray's son Colonel Sir Edward Talbot Thackeray V.C., K.C.B.

Two of Sir Richmond Campbell Shakespear's descendants were Richmond Campbell Shakespear Waller, a cricketer, and John Campbell Shakespear Miles.

Other members of this family, who died during their service in India include Henry Alexander Shakespear, William Ross Shakespear and William Talbot Shakespear.

Captain William Henry Shakespear was born in India, and is buried in Kuwait, where he was killed in action in January 1915. A book about him 'Captain William Henry Shakespear', A Portrait by H V F Winstone, was written in1976.

A 'Dynamic Family Tree' of this family is also available.