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The Shakespeare Family History Site

The Shakespeares of


Details from the IGI suggest that the story of the Shakespeares in Northamptonshire begins with a William, who married Elizabeth Elkerton in the town of Whitfield, 23 April 1782. William and Elizabeth had three children prior to Elizabeth's death in September 1791.

The Marriage Register Entry for William Shakespeare & Elizabeth Elkerton

William then married Sara Hunt, 11 Dec 1792, also in Whitfield:

The Marriage Register Entry for William Shakespeare & Sarah Hunt

The IGI records two children of this marriage:

William and Sarah had at least ten, and more likely eleven children - the parish register records a baptism of a son William to William and 'Elizabeth' Shakespeare in 1796. No age is given, but if this is William and Elizabeth's son then his baptism would have taken place five years after his mothers death. It is more likely that this is a clerical error (if you will pardon the pun) - perhaps the vicar was writing from memory, or a simple 'slip of the pen' resulted in him substituting Elizabeth for Sarah.

A slightly earlier marriage on the IGI, 11 Apr 1748, Badby, Sarah Shakespeare & William Garret, may or may not be related to William. Other marriages at Badby are discussed elsewhere. Two other, much earlier marriages, are obviously 'strays' and have no connection:

The IGI records the following marriages:

The Marriage Register Entry for James Allen & Ann Shakespeare

Other marriages on the IGI are as follows:

The 1881 Census gives further clues:


Dwelling: 20 Broughton Ter
Census Place: Neithrop, Oxford, England
Source: FHL Film 1341368 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 1530 Folio 5 Page 4
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
John MORGAN M 32 M Easton, Somerset, England
Rel: Head
Occ: Milk Seller
Margaret MORGAN M 40 F Plumton, Northampton, England
Rel: Wife
Jenney E. MORGAN 6 F Banbury, Oxford, England
Rel: Daur
Occ: Scholar
Mary E. MORGAN 3 F Banbury, Oxford, England
Rel: Daur
Occ: Scholar
Edmund SHAKESPEARE W 72 M Whitfield, Northampton, England
Rel: Father In Law
Occ: Groom (N D)

This Edmund, born 1808 in Whitfield, is yet another of William's children, and left descendants -  according to the IGI:

From the IGI:

Other children of Edmund & Anna:

The only other entry on the 1881 census with a Northamptonshire connection is another Edmund (son of John Yates Shakespeare), born around 1831:


Dwelling: Main Street
Census Place: Broadway, Worcester, England
Source: FHL Film 1341701 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 2927 Folio 7 Page 5
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Edmund SHAKESPEARE M 50 M Northampton, Northampton, England
Rel: Head
Occ: Shoemaker
Ellen SHAKESPEARE M 39 F Broadway, Worcester, England
Rel: Wife
Occ: Shoemaker Wife
Ellen M. SHAKESPEARE 10 F Broadway, Worcester, England
Rel: Daughter
Occ: Scholar
Annie E. SHAKESPEARE 9 F Broadway, Worcester, England
Rel: Daughter
Occ: Scholar
Mary J. SHAKESPEARE 7 F Broadway, Worcester, England
Rel: Daughter
Occ: Scholar
Edmund SHAKESPEARE 5 M Fairford, Gloucester, England
Rel: Son
Occ: Scholar
Catherine F. SHAKESPEARE 2 F Redditch, Worcester, England
Rel: Daughter

Additionally, two further Shakespeares, Joseph (born 1801) and Susannah (born 1803) are both revealed by the 1851 Census to have been born in Whitfield, but by then living in Tingewick, in Buckinghamshire, and are children of William and Sarah.

The extent of the current knowledge of this family is as below:


Clues to Williams origins come from the fact that a John Shakespeare, aged - was buried in Whitfield 17th January 1794, aged 78 years - meaning a birth date of around 1716. Williams burial, 29th April 1841, gives his age as 75 years - meaning a birth date of around 1766. However, the vital clue is the name of one of the witnesses at William's marriage to Elizabeth Elkerton, namely Richard Hornby. This led to the discovery of the following marriage:

7 Nov 1777, Cropredy, Oxon., Richard Hornsby, Psh of Great Bourton, and Mary Shakespeare, Psh of Little Bourton, by banns. Witn: Francis Maycock, William Reynolds.

There are no Hornbys in the Whitfield Parish Registers at this time. A search of the Cropredy Parish Registers - Little and Great Bourton did not have their own church at this time, hence they had to go to Cropredy - reveals no children of this marriage either. What it does reveal is a number of Shakespeares, including the first child of William Shakespeare and Elizabeth Elkerton - thus the connection is made. William's baptism is also there, as is that of his father, John in 1723. There is a discrepancy in John's burial entry at Whitfield, where the age given would make him about 8 years older. All of the other facts fit, so it would seem the burial entry is in error - after all, John was no longer alive to contest this!



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Revised May 2004, from information supplied by M Wootton