The Brothers and Sisters of William Shakespeare

Picture of house in Henley Street

The Biography of William Shakespeare

  • When were his brothers and sisters born?
  • What were the names of Shakespeare's siblings?
  • How many died during childhood?
  • How did his brothers and sisters live their lives?
  • Was Shakespeare close to his brothers and sisters?
  • Interesting information about the family, life and times of William Shakespeare

How many Brothers and Sisters did William Shakespeare have?


  • The actual dates of birth of the Shakespeare children cannot be substantiated as at this time in England births were not formally registered and Birth Certificates were not produced
  • Birth dates can, however, be guessed as due to the high mortality rate of infants it was the custom of Elizabethan parents to have their children baptised three days after their birth
  • Joan was the first child of John and Mary was baptised 1558 September 15 (she only survived two months)
  • Margaret was baptised 1562 December 2 - she died one year later
  • William was baptised 1564 April 26 (died 1616 aged 52 )
  • Gilbert was baptised 1566 October 13 (died 1612 aged 46)
  • Another daughter, also called Joan, was born in 1569 (died 1646 aged 77)
  • Anne was baptised 1571 September 28 (1579 died aged 8)
  • Richard was baptised 1574 March 11 (died 1613 aged 39)
  • Edmund was baptised 1580 May 3 (died 1607 aged 27)

JOAN SHAKESPEARE - b.1558 d.1558

  • Joan was the first born of John and Mary Shakespeare who had eight children between 1558 - 1580
  • Joan died at the age of just two months old - the cause of death was believed to be the Bubonic Plague


  • Margaret only lived for one year
  • The cause of death has not been documented but was believed to be due to the Bubonic Plague


  • William was the first born son of John and Mary Shakespeare and thankfully survived childhhood unlike the two sisters before him


  • Two years after William's birth the Shakespeare’s' fourth child, Gilbert, was born
  • It is possible that he was named after Gilbert Bradley, a Burgess of Stratford who was also a glover as was John Shakespeare and lived in Henley Street
  • It is likely that Gilbert attended school with William
  • Gilbert took the trade of a haberdasher and followed his brother William to live in London
  • Gilbert often returned to Stratford and he appeared in Stratford court in connection with a lawsuit
  • Gilbert never married and remained a bachelor until his death in Stratford, on February 3, 1612 at the age of 46

JOAN SHAKESPEARE (1569 - 1646)

  • Joan was the fifth of John and Mary Shakespeare and named after her deceased sister which was a common practise during the Elizabethan era
  • It was not the usual custom for girls in this era to attend school so Joan would have stayed at home and helped her mother with the household chores
  • Joan met and married a hatter called William Hart
  • She had four children but only William and Michael survived
  • Joan's son William Hart (1600-1639) followed in his Uncle William's footsteps and became an actor - he never married but he is believed to have fathered an illegitimate son called Charles Hart who became a leading actor during the Restoration period
  • William gave permission for Joan to live in the Western of the two houses on Henley Street where she stayed until her death at the remarkable age of 77 years old!
ANNE SHAKESPEARE (1571 - 1579)
  • Anne was the born in 1571 when William was seven years old
  • She died when she was just eight years old - the cause is uncertain but it is probable that Anne died of the Bubonic Plague
  • Anne was provided with an expensive funeral even though the family were going through a financial crisis
  • Anne Shakespeare was buried on April 4, 1579


  • Richard was baptised on March 11th 1574
  • When Richard was born the Shakespeare family fortunes were in decline and it is probable that Richard did not receive an education or read or write
  • There is little known about Richard. There are no records of a marriage but it is believed that he lived out his life in Stratford-upon-Avon helping with the family business
  • Richard Shakespeare was buried on February 4, 1613 - he lived to the age of 39

EDMUND SHAKESPEARE - b.1581 (1581 - 1607)

  • At the time of his birth the Shakespeare fortunes had recovered
  • Edmund was sixteen years younger than William
  • He followed William to London and worked as an actor
  • Edmund died in 1607 at the age of 27 and once again it is believed that the cause was the Bubonic Plague
  • Edmund was buried in St. Saviour's Church, in Southwark, in London on December 31 1607. William paid for his expensive funeral which was attended by many of the Globe actors

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