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Shakespeare's Family Tree

ShakespeareHow much do you know about William Shakespeare? Most people would recognize the name and realize that he wrote plays. You may have read one of his plays as part of the coursework for your high school English class. Not everyone knows much about Shakespeare’s family tree.

William Shakespeare was born around April 23, 1564. The exact date is unknown. However, it is known that babies at the time were baptized within a few days after their birth. There is a record of his baptism, which was done on April 26, 1564. From that, people have extrapolated that he must have been born shortly before that date.

Every year, when it gets close to Shakespeare’s birthday, you will see dozens of blogs about him (and his work) pop up on the internet. Clearly, people are still fascinated by Shakespeare hundreds of years after his death.

William Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. His father was John Shakespeare, who was an alderman and a successful glover. William’s mother was Mary Arden, who was the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. Mary and John were first cousins. (This wasn’t considered to be controversial at the time). William was the third of eight children.

Of those eight siblings, there is only one that we have information about. William had a younger sister named Joan who was baptized on April 15, 1569. She was named after their parents’ first daughter, who had died before Joan was born.

When William was 18 years old, he got married to Anne Hathaway. She was about 26 years old at the time. The wedding took place in November of 1582. It is believed that he was the one who pursued her, not the other way around. His family had fallen into financial ruin, which would have reduced William’s prospects for marriage. Anne was most likely living with her parents and helping to take care of her siblings.

In 1853, their first child, Susanna, was baptized. In 1855, Anne gave birth to a set of twins. Hamnet and Judith were both baptized on February 2, 1855. Hamnet died at the age of 11, in 1596. He may have died from the Bubonic plague.

There is speculation that William’s deceased son was the inspiration for the name of the main character in Hamlet. It has been said that the twins were named after Hamnet and Judith Sadler, a couple who were friends with William and Anne.

William’s sister Joan married William Hart, who was a hatter. They had four children together. William was born in 1600. Mary was born in 1603, Thomas was born in 1605, and Michael was born in 1608. Joan’s children are William Shakespeare’s nieces and nephews.

Susanna married John Hall in 1607. He was a physician. The couple had a daughter in 1608, whom they named Elizabeth. She was William’s granddaughter. Tradition states that William Shakespeare died 52 years after he was born, on April 23, 1616. He died where he was born and raised, in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Image by tonynetone on Flickr.

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