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The Shakespeare Family History Site

Why Did The Poet Go To London?

A number of theories have been put forward by biographers over the centuries since his death. A number of these put forward suppositions as to how he became involved with a number of travelling theatre companies.

However, what seems to have been missed by biographers is the fact that there was already a Shakespeare family in London when he arrived there. Even French in 'Shakespeareana Genealogica' seems to have missed this.

Mathew Shakespeare, the progenitor of the 'Stepney Shakespeares' married in London in 1569, and had a family there prior to William's arrival in the city. Assuming Mathew to be in his early twenties when he married (he could, of course, have been much older, or even younger) this would mean he was around the same age as the Poets father - or at least the right age to be his brother. At any rate the time of his birth would have been at around the start of parish registers in England, if not before, and quite probably before the existence of any surviving registers.

Is this the reason that William went to London? - that is, he already had relatives there? Was Mathew a close relative??

It is well known, of course, that one of William's siblings (Edmund) also made the move to London.

The 'Stepney' family have a tradition of descent from the same family as the Poet, and used the same Coat of Arms. However, as a number of them came to great prominence during the Victorian era, and in some instances before, these arms may have been 'adopted' at this time, when such use was not as frowned upon as it would have been in earlier times. It would be interesting to find evidence of their use of the Arms at an earlier period.