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The Shakespeare Family History Site

The Shakespeares of


The earliest record of a Shakespeare in Polesworth is Joseph Shakespeare who married Judith Smith 13 November 1774. Their descendants are dealt with seperately.

Bev Shakespeare, of New Zealand, has provided details from the Polesworth Parish Registers:

Baptisms 1779 - 1837
Marriages 1754 - 1837
Burials 1770 - 1837

Marriage 1774  13th Nov. Joseph Shackspeare  Judey Smith otp


1779  26th Sept  John  s/o Joseph & Judith    
1782  6th  Jan     Mary d/o Judith / Widow.    

Burial 1781  6th Sept   Shackspear. Joseph. lab.    

Marriage 1793  9th Dec  Edward Shakespeare  Dorothy Holmes otp  

1795  30th Sept  Mary    
1797  24th Dec  Hannah    
1800  17th Aug  Ann    
1802  15th Aug  Dorothy    
1805  24th Feb  Edward Born 13th Feb.   

Marriage 1805  13th May  John Shakespeare. otp  Sarah Clayton Sibson


1807  27th Dec  Sarah  Born 14th Oct   
1810  11th Jun  William Born 21st May   
1813  15th Aug  John Clayton Born 24th July   
1817  2nd Nov  Joseph Born 5th Aug   
1820  21st May  Eli Born 23rd March   
1823  11th Sept  Enoch Born 5th April   

Marriage 1830  17th May  James Mawby. Sheepy M  Sarah Shakespeare         


1793  30th May   Hannah    d/o Edward Shakespeare &  Hannah 


1814  6th Feb  Henry   s/o William Shakespeare & Elizabeth   Born 25th Aug 1813
1815  13th Aug  Thomas Born 5th Aug   Died 2nd April 1816
1817  11th May  John    
1819   5th Dec  Thomas  Born 3rd Dec   
1824  21st mar  Sarah    
1826  4th Sept  William    
1829  22nd mar   Harriet          


1805  20th Mar  John   s/o William Shakespeare Ann  


1793  24th May  Hannah Shakespear    
1796  21st Feb  Ann Shakespear    
1802  10th July  Emma Shakespear    
1804  29th July  Dorothy Shakespear 1 Year   
1805  27th Mar  John Shakespear Infant   
1814  28th July  Juda Shakespear 72 years   
1822  11th July  Harriet    Died 13th April 1823
1825  3rd Feb   Eli 4 years   
1837 14th Feb   William 26 Years   

Sorting out the relationships of these Shakespeare families is proving problematical, which is surprising given the small size of the village!

An Edward Shakespeare is first recorded in 1793. At first glance it might appear that there were two different individuals of this name - one married to Hannah and one married to Dorothy - however inspection of the parish registers reveals a Hannah Shakespeare buried 24 May 1793, six days prior to the baptism of Hannah daughter of Edward and Hannah. The seems to be the mother, who quite likely died in childbirth. It seems that Edward remarried just over six months later to Dorothy Holmes. This is followed by baptisms of five of their children over the next twelve years.

Edwards age at death in 1843 (from his death certificate) would place his birth around 1759. This would make him of about the right age to be a son of the Joseph mentioned above, from a possible earlier marriage - assuming Joseph to be of the same age, or older than Judith Smith who he married in 1774. It is also just conceivable that Edward might be a much younger sibling. Either of these hypotheses would fit the appearance of these two individuals in the small village of Polesworth.

Edward Shakespeare seems to be the one who married Hannah Heeling in 1788 in Walton Upon Trent, Derbyshire, and the baptism of their son William is recorded there the following year. This is consistent with the age of William whose children (with his wife Sarah) were recorded as being baptised at Polesworth between 1814 and 1826.

  However, there are three entries on the IGI for children of an Edward and 'Hanner' Shakespeare at Kingsbury, Warks:
  • William, bapt 30 Nov 1788 (this baptism very late in 1788 would be consistent with William of Polesworth age at death)
  • Joseph, bapt 19 June 1791
  • Ann, bapt 20 May 1793 (mothers name give as 'Hannah'

One anomaly with William is that the 1851 census gives his birthplace as Walsall (no County given). Is this the census enumerator recording what he thought he heard as Walsall (which is nearby in Staffordshire) and with which he was probably familiar, as opposed to Walton (in Derbyshire) which he may not have heard of?

Current research on Edward Shakespeare is as follows (assuming that William born 1789 is in fact the son of Edward Shakespeare and Hannah Heeling):

A separate section details the Burials and Monumental Inscriptions at Polesworth.