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   Chapter 11 COUSINS AND CONNECTIONS

Shakespeare's Family By C. C. Stopes Characters: 7741

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


It is certain that Shakespeare had many cousins on the Arden side. A notice of the Stringers, the Lamberts, the Edkins, and the Webbes has been already given. The Hart family, as has also been noticed, provided a large number of relatives not of the name.

On the Shakespeare side the poet may have had cousins, though we are not able to prove their descent from records at present in hand. More than one family claim to have descended from cousins, and presumably from Shakespeare's grandfather Richard. But we must not forget there were other Richards at his time. The Richard of Wroxall, Mr. Yeatman insists, must be the same as the Richard of Snitterfield, though it seems hardly possible, seeing we find the one officially associated with the Priory of Wroxall 26 Henry VIII., 1535,[220] and the other presented for non-suit of court at Snitterfield 20 and 22 Henry VIII.; for infringing the rights of pasture there, October 1, 1535; and receiving a legacy from a friend that suggested continued residence: "Unto Richard Shakespere of Snytfield my foure oxen which are now in his keeping" (will of Thomas Atwode, alias Tailor, of Stratford-on-Avon, 1543). Three successive Richards lived in Rowington. One, "Richard Shakysspere, of Rowington, Weyver," died in 1560, and mentioned his sons William and Richard in his will drawn up the year before, on June 15, and proved on June 30 (goods prised by John Shakspere and Richard Sanders). Another Richard of the same place made a will in 1591 and died in 1592, whose children were John, Roger, Thomas, William, and Dorothy Jenkes; his wife's name was Joan. There was also a grandson, Thomas, son of John.[221] Another Richard died in 1614,[222] whose eldest son was William. But each of these Richards, from his family and connections, can be proved to be a different man from the Richard of Snitterfield. We are reasonably sure that our John was the son of the latter, if he administered his goods after his death in 1560-61[223]; and if so, we are sure that Henry also was his son, as Henry was the brother of John. This is mentioned in the Declaration of 1587,[224] when Nicholas Lane proceeded against John as surety for his impecunious brother Henry. Henry was also summoned with John to appear as witness in the Mayowe and Webbe case, 23 Elizabeth. He had a wife called Margaret, whose death immediately follows his own in the Register of Snitterfield;[225] but we are not sure that he had any children. "Henry Sakspere was buryed the 29th day of Dec., 1596." "Margaret Sakspere, widow, being tymes the wyff of Henry Sakspere, was bured ix Feb., 1596." It is quite probable that when Robert Webbe married and settled in Snitterfield, or Edward Cornwall came into power there, that Henry moved thence.[226] Just about the time we find in the Registers of Hampton-on-Avon or Bishop Hampton, "Lettyce, daughter of Henry Shakespeare of Ingon,[227] bapt. June 4th, 1583." "Jeames, son of Henry Shakespeare, bapt. Oct. 15th, 1585." Yet he appears as one of "the pledges" at the baptism of Henry Townsend, of Snitterfield, September 4, 1586. "Jeames Shakespeare, of Ingon, buried Oct. 25th, 1589,"[228] is also mentioned by Malone. This is the correct reading of the "Joannes" mentioned by Halliwell-Phillipps as being buried in the same place so near the same date as September 25, 1589.

A William Shakespeare appears once in Snitterfield as prising the goods of John Pardu in 1569; but we do not know his age and residence, and there is no clue to any relationship with him.

A William prised the goods of Robert Shakespeare of Wroxall, 1565, and the goods of John Shaxper of Rowington, 1574.

An Anthony occurs among the billmen of Snitterfield in the muster book of 1569. John Shakespeare of Rowington, who held land at Wroxall 22 Henry VIII., had a son Antonio, rather an unusual name. Tradition says the p

oet had an uncle or grand-uncle, Antonio. But we must beware of using tradition as a staff to lean upon. No Anthony appears in any family papers. An Antony Shaxspeare married Joane Whitrefe at Budbrook (in which parish is Hampton Corley), November 14, 1573; and in the Register we find: "Henrie Shackspere sonne of Shackspere and Joane his wife, baptized 24th March, 1575." "Elizabeth, daughter to Antony Shaksper of Hamton, baptized Feb. 10th, 1583," in the Stratford Registers; and "Henry, son of Antonio Shakespeare, buried June 18th, 1583," in Clifford Chambers. This wandering makes his life rather confusing to us.

Thomas Shakespeare might have been an uncle. Thomas was presented as a regrator or forestaller of barley and wheat at Snitterfield Court, held April, 1575. A Thomas, probably the same, appears in Stratford Records between 23 and 28 Elizabeth. He was sued for the price of malted barley in 23 Elizabeth. He had a son named John, baptized at Snitterfield March 10, 1581-2. Of this child we know nothing further, but I make a suggestion in a later chapter that may interest readers.

There was a Johanna Shakespeare,[229] whose burial record in Snitterfield, in 1595, makes no allusion to any male relative. She might have been an aunt, a great-aunt, or even a grandmother of the poet, and the widow of Richard. Similar entries of wives and widows have been found in the neighbourhood. Joan was an important name in John Shakespeare's eyes, and he gave the name to two of his daughters.

Richard had probably a daughter who became Mrs. Green. A "Thomas Green, alias Shakespeare," was buried in Stratford-on-Avon, March 6, 1590. He was probably the father of Thomas Green, solicitor, in whose "Diary and Correspondence" we find allusions to his cousin Shakespeare: "My cosen Shakspeare has commyng yesterday to towne; I went to see him how he did."[230] Jovis, Nov. 17.

It was he who conducted the Addenbrooke prosecution (1608), at which time, we know not for what reason, he appears to have been living in Shakespeare's home, New Place, in Stratford-on-Avon.

There might have been an indefinite number of cousins by marriage among the Hathaways. I only mention this now in relation to one strange example of the desire of association somehow with Shakespeare. In the catalogue of the Shakespeare Library of Warwick Castle is the title of a book written by a Hathaway clergyman of Tewkesbury, said to be "a descendant of Anne Hathaway," ignoring the fact that Anne Hathaway was Mrs. Shakespeare. Yet he might after all have been a cousin twice removed.

FOOTNOTES:

[220] See "Valor Ecclesiasticus," Warwickshire, at Dissolution, Henry VIII.

[221] Worcester wills.

[222] Ibid.

[223] Admin. Bond at Worcester.

[224] "Henricus Shaksper, frater dicti Johannis," February 1, 29 Elizabeth, 1587.

[225] Snitterfield Registers.

[226] Henry had a fight with Edward Cornwall, and drew blood, October 12, 1574. See Halliwell-Phillipps, "Outlines," vol. ii., p. 209.

[227] Ingon is in the parish of Hampton-on-Avon.

[228] Malone's "Life," vol. ii., p. 23, ed. 1821.

[229] "Johana Shaxspere mortua est et sepulta January quinto, anno 1595." No record has been found of the death of Richard's wife, if this be not she.

[230] Green's "Diary," Nov. 17, 1614, Stratford-on-Avon Records. See also Ingleby's "Shakespeare and the Enclosure of Welcombe." Thomas Green was a Councillor of Middle Temple and a solicitor. (See Quyney's Town Accounts, January and February, 1600-1.) He was appointed Steward of the Court of Record, Stratford-on-Avon, on September 7, 1603. There was no Town Clerk then, and the Steward did the duties until the Charter granted to the town by James I., July 8, 1610, created the office of Town Clerk. He held part of the remainder of the tithes, the half of which were held by Shakespeare.

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