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Thomas Shakespear

of Keresley


This family is one of the few that have consistently signed their own name without the final (e) - for over 250 years - and still do to the present day.

Current research begins with Thomas, born around 1717 (from age on Marriage License), who married in nearby Corley, but settled in Keresley, where he was a farmer. His place of birth is not known at present. His father was almost certainly named Thomas - the same Thomas whose two daughters baptisms are recorded at Corley in 1716 and 1720. In manorial records there is a Thomas Shakespear (elder) referred to in addition to another Thomas Shakespear (no description). The elder cannot sign his name on these records and an apprenticeship document. A Thomas Shakespear (senior) of Keresley is buried in 1763, as is the wife of Thomas Shakespear (senior) of Keresley - unfortunately her name is not given. There is another Thomas who can sign documents and is living after Thomas senior died. This all points to there being a father and son living in Keresley. There were no Shakespears living in Keresley in the Protestaion Oath Rolls for Coventry so it is not known where Thomas Senior came from.


Thomas was an important member of the hamlet of Kerseley.In 1740/41/54/71 he was a juror for the manorial court and was a constables juror for the Coventry quarter sessions. In 1754 he was also an affearer for the manor court. From 1752 to 1772 he was a collector and assessor of taxes. In 1741 he was an overseer of the poor for the Parish.

He was a tenant farmer of the Lifford Estate farming what is probably now "Manor House Farm" and collected rent for Lord Lifford. The manorial court was held in his house.

Either his father or he was amerced (fined) for a yard on the waste and paid rent for the yard until 1759.

He did inherit a small amount of land from his Father-in-law through his wife. He eventually sold the land to Lord Lifford. After the death of his second wife in 1783 he emigrated to Dublin and his son Simon took over the tenancy of Manor farm.

In 1784 and 1785 Simon paid 2-12s-4d Land Tax to the City Of Coventry. In his will he left each of his sons and daughters 30 to be paid when they reached 21 years. His wife and eldest son John were left the farm and instructed to bring up his children, to "cloath and educate them."

Simon's youngest son Thomas was baptised publically on 23 June 1802 in Corley. He had also been baptised privately - presumably the private baptism took place straight after birth. Thomas built a workshop adjoining his cottage. Thomas was constable of Corley Parish 1857 to 1862 (his great grand daughter Annie Edwards had his truncheon (which was stolen). In 1860 and 1861 he was an overseer of the poor. Thomas occupied 13 acres of land in Corley. His wife and daughter were both left 5 when Samuel Moggs, a neighbour died. Thomas left his Freehold in Corley Moor (1 rood 13 perches), land near the old mill (1 acre, 1rood ,35perches) and the house devised to him by Joseph Webster, to his wife. He left his carpentor's tools and stock to his son George Simon.

In 1851 this Thomas's daughter Elizabeth was housemaid to Charles & Caroline Bray and Mary A. Evans was a visitor. Mary Evans was the novelist GEORGE ELIOT whose life was considerably influenced by the Brays.

From Keresley many of Thomas (born 1717) Shakespear's descendants migrated to Coventry and beyond. It is interesting that one of his children was named Christopher (1740-63), a name that occurs in the Rowington and Lapworth families and may indicate a connection between these families (Shakespeareana Genealogica, page 536).

Various documents relating to this family have been provided by John Shakespear, a descendant - including;

Census Details:

1841/ 1851/ 1861/ 1871/ 1881/ 1891/ 1901

View all census records relating to this family


Parish Registers:

Coventry, St Michael

Baptisms/ Marriages/ Burials


It seems that Charles Shakespeare, born 1759, lived in Bulkington, and left descendants.