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The Fillongley Shakespeares

Little research has been done so far on this family - much of the information below comes from a descendant, Chris Brand of British Columbia, whose ancestor Jane Shakespeare, born in Arley, Warwickshire, was the daughter of Solomon Grosvenor Shakespeare born 1805 in Fillongley. The significance of Solomons name will be seen below.

Chris's information gives the following 'family tree':

Solomon Grosvenor Shakespeare appears in the 1851 Census:

Head: SHAKESPEAR, Solomon Grosvenour                    

Name      Relationship          Mar         Age        Sex          Occupation           Birthplace

Solomon Grosvenour  SHAKESPEAR             Head       M            45            M            Annuitant                Fillongley-War

Mary  SHAKESPEAR         Wife       -               50            F              ---            Corley-War

                Address:                Parish House Wood End, Meriden

                Census Place:       Fillongley Meriden, Warwickshire

                PRO Reference:    HO/107/2063         Folio:      446          Page:      14            FHL Film:                0087322

Jane appears, after her marriage, in the 1881 census (there seems to be a discrepancy with her age):

Household:

 
 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
 William OVERTON   Head   M   Male   40   Walsall, Stafford, England   Saddlers Ironmonger    
 Jane OVERTON   Wife   M   Female   45   Arley ?, Warwick, England       
 Grovenor OVERTON   Son   U   Male   9   Great Barr, Stafford, England   Scholar    
 Florence OVERTON   Dau   U   Female   8   Great Barr, Stafford, England   Scholar    
 Jessie OVERTON   Dau   U   Female   5   Walsall, Stafford, England   Scholar    
 Mable OVERTON   Dau   U   Female   3   Walsall, Stafford, England       
 Hobbins HOBBINS   Serv   U   Female   19   Great Barr, Stafford, England   Gen Serv    

Source Information:
 

  Dwelling   94 King St
  Census Place Walsall Foreign, Stafford, England
  Family History Library Film   1341677
  Public Records Office Reference   RG11
  Piece / Folio   2827 / 118
  Page Number   25

 

During a conversation with his Grandfather (Max William Grosvenor Overton), Chris made the following notes from original documents in his Grandfathers possession (which have, sadly, since disappeared):

  1. Settlement by Soloman Grosvenor and Thomas Shakespear on his intended marriage to Anne Dugdale widow and a daughter of Soloman Grosvenor. Dated 23/9/1737
  2. Inventory by Anne Dugdale, widow of William Dugdale, of the latters goods. Dated 18/6/1733
  3. Indenture between Adrian Shakespeare and Thomas Shakespeare. Dated 4/4/1694
  4. Indenture from Isabella Dugdale to Anne Dugdale. Dated 10/9/1735
  5. Account of John Dugdale for his (minor) brother William Dugdale. Dated 1714 to 1723
  6. Letter from Judith Dugdale to her son John Dugdale. Dated 8/4/1733
  7. Account of estate of William Dugdale. Dated 5/4/1734
  8. Account by Anne Dugdale of payments. Dated January 1735
  9. William Grosvenor Shakespeare’s Will dated 20/6/1902, proved 5/11/1904
  10. Draft marriage settlement between Soloman Grosvenor and his wife Anne, and Thomas Shakespeare on his marriage to Anne Dugdale, widow of William Dugdale and a daughter of Soloman Grosvenor and Anne.

 

Chris adds the following notes:
Note 1: The IGI has the marriage of Anne Grosvenor to William Dugdale 23 Jan 1732, Fillongley, Warwick, England.
Note 2: There is a monument in Fillongley church, erected by Thomas Shakespear. The genealogy of that seems to agree with the titles of the papers detailed above.

 

The Fillongley Monument

Near this place in the Middle Be Lieth the
Body of GEORGE SHAKESPEAR Gent who
Departed this Life the 23d day of January
1699 Aged 45.
And also the Body of MARY SHAKESPEAR
the Wife of GEORGE SHAKESPEAR who~
Departed this Life the 26th day of Feb.1732,
Aged 73. She was Eldest Daughter of PHILIP
ORTON of Church Bicknell Gent. who had
Issue two Sons, and one Daughter, GEORGE,
THOMAS, and ELIZABETH.
Here also lieth ye Body of GEORGE SHAKES
PEAR who Departed this Life the 28th Day of
March 1734, Aged 50.
And also the Body of JANE SHAKESPEAR,
the Wife of THOMAS SHAKESPEAR, who
Departed this Life June 7th 1736 Aged 53. She
was the Daughter of THOMAS WRIGHT
of Neather Whitaker, Gent.
And also THOMAS SHAKESPEAR Gent. Son of the
above Named GEORGE SHAKESPEAR Gent.
who departed this Life May ye 7th, 1763, Aged 73
by whom this Monument was erected in a pious regard
to the Memory of his Father Mother Brother & first Wife
And also Francis his Son, who Died in its Infancy
whom he had by his Second Wife.
She was Daughter to SOLOMON GROSVENOR Esqr
The Shakespear monument in Fillongley church

The monument gives the following 'Family Tree':

The connection between the names on this monumental inscription and the documents originally in the possession of Chris's Grandfather is obvious, as is the significance of the name Solomon Grosvenor Shakespeare, and it is highly probable that the Thomas Shakespeare, who married Elizabeth Smith at Fillongley in 1794, is a grandson of the Thomas on the Monument: indeed, there is a baptism on the IGI: 21 April 1769, Thomas son of Thomas and Mary Shakespeare.

The age on the monument does not quite agree, as it would give George a birthdate around 1655, but he is most probably the George baptised 1658 at Little Packington, son of Thomas and Grace Shakespeare.

There is another Shakespeare tomb in Fillongley Church: on the floor of the nave of Fillongley church is a flat stone, inscribed – “To the memory of Thomas Shakespear of Fillongley, in the County of Warwick, gentleman, who departed this life May ye 7th, 1763, in the 73rd year of his age.

 

‘Afflictions sore long time I bore,

Physicians were in vain,

Till death gave ease and God did please

To ease me of my pain.’

 

‘Dear Christians for Jesus’ sake forbear

To disturb the dust that slumbers here’ “

 

(Note the similar last two lines to those on William Shakespeare’s own epitaph in Stratford.) A summary of this Thomas's will is available.

 

However, the inscription on the above stone was copied by John Shakespear (descendant of the Keresley family) in the 1980's and the full inscription contains further details (some words are missing due to the stone being worn):

 

Thomas Shakespear of Fillongley died 1763 aged 73. He was twice married: his first wife was daughter of Thomas Wright of Nether Whitacre second wife daughter of Soloman Grosvenor descended ........... Bushbury de Stallard by whom he had numerous offspring but all died except one son and one daughter.
An honest man, a good husband and a tender father.
Afflictions so long bore ............
Dear Christian to ..............
To disturb the dust that slumbers here.

There is one more stone on the floor of the aisle of the church, also transcribed by John Shakespear in the 1980's (again some words were illegible due to wear):

Beneath and near this stone lie the remains of Thomas Shakespear esq and Elizabeth and six of their children, 3 of which died infants.
Thomas Shakespear died August 1830 aged 61 years. Elizabeth his wife died December 1853 aged 81 years.
George their second son ..................................
Thomas Smith Shakespear died 1852 and Mary the eldest surviving daughter September 23rd 1856 aged 68 years.
Elizabeth Shakespear another daughter married Wm ....ker
and died ......... Commerce, Scott County, Misso
November 3rd 1844 in her 38th year.

[This daughter Elizabeth is obviously the Elizabeth Smith Shakespear who married William Docker 6 July 1831 at Fillongley]

 

The parishes of Fillongley and Little Packington are adjacent, and the Shakespeare families in both used the then relatively uncommon christian name George, as did the family at Arley, where later members of the Fillongley family are known to have lived - this may indicate a possible connection between these families. Note also the information from the indenture dated 1694 between Thomas Shakespeare and Adrian Shakespeare: there is a baptism recorded 31 March 1671 at Arley of Adrian son of 'Thomae and Mariae Shakespeere.' This may be the same person.

William Shakespeare of Arley (son of Thomas & 'Mariae'), who died in 1729, is referred to as 'kinsman' in the will of Thomas Shakespeare (died 1763) the son of George Shakespeare of Fillongley. Hence George (1654-1699) may be a brother of Thomas Shakespeare of Arley who died in 1719.

There is also the earlier record of a will dated 26 April 1610 which mentions Adrian Shakespeare, son of Thomas Shakespeare of Little Packington. The date of this will, however, seems to be in error, and may be an estimation of this Thomas's date of birth - no will is listed in the indexes for this date at Lichfield or elsewhere: the will referred to is more likely to be one of two listed for the 1680's for Thomas Shakespeare, of Little Packington. Another reference to Adrian Shakespeare, said to be of Stratford, is a claim for him to be a member of the same family as the Poet. Curiously, both the families at Fillongley and Little Packington seem to have used the same Coat of Arms as the Poet's family.

This is the current status of research on this line - the Fillongley Parish Registers have not yet been examined, and given the family's status there are probably wills and records of land ownership yet to be found. Since writing the above further information has been received from John Shakespear, a descendant of the Keresley family, who has investigated the Fillongley Shakespeares, including a number of wills held at Lichfield Record Office, for a possible link with his own. This confirms the connection between the family on the monument in Fillongley church and Solomon Grosvenor Shakespeare:

 

Notes

From the IGI:

  • Marriage at 'Bickenhill', 13 May 1684, of George Shakespeare and Mary Orton

  • Baptism at 'Bickenhill', 2 March 1684/5, of George, son of the above couple

See Also:

Note: Chris Brand has also provided transcripts of later legal documents concerning the Shakespeare family and their descendants the Overtons.

Revised September 2004

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