The Parents of William Shakespeare

Picture of house in Henley Street

The Biography of William Shakespeare

  • The marriage John Shakespeare and Elizabeth Arden
  • Did their families approve?
  • The Wedding?
  • Their home in Stratford-upon-Avon?
  • Interesting information about the family, life and times of William Shakespeare

The Parents of William Shakespeare


  • John Shakespeare, a Yeoman, and Mary Arden, an heiress, were the parents of William Shakespeare
  • Mary Arden lived between 1540 - 1608
  • John Shakespeare lived between 1531 - 1601
  • John's father, Richard Shakespeare, was a tenant farmer of Robert Arden of Wilmecote
  • Mary Arden was the youngest and favourite of the eight daughters of Robert Arden who was a member of the noble Catholic family of the Ardens of Park Hall whose family forebears had been given land by William the Conqueror
  • John's father, Richard was a tenant farmer of Mary's father Robert Arden of Wilmecote
  • Mary Arden married beneath her class at the age of 17 and brought with her a dowry
  • Mary and John married in 1557 a year after the death of Mary Arden's father and it is likely that he would not have approved of the marriage
  • Both Mary and John were Catholics and were married when the staunch Catholic Queen Mary ( Bloody Mary) was the ruling monarch of England - At least both of the families would have approved of their religion


There are no specific details about the marriage of Shakespeare' parents but there are details available about traditional weddings of the era. The following information provides the 'flavour' of a typical wedding

  • Many people married in June because they took their yearly bath in May as the weather became warmer!
  • Wedding invitations were not issued
  • The bride did not wear white, this was a later tradition, but she would have had a new gown
  • The groom would have worn his best clothes
  • Fresh flowers were central to the celebrations, Flowers would adorn the bride's gown and she would carry a bouquet
  • The wedding would have been a festive event and guests would meet at the house and the procession would be accompanied by musicians
  • The Catholic church ceremony was a solemn one. Everyone would stand - there were no seats or pews in churches at this time
  • After the wedding ceremony the families of the couple would sometimes enjoy a wedding feast


  • William's father moved to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1551 to set up business trading in animals, wool, malt and corn
  • He bought a house in Henley Street, Stratford , which was conveniently near the market
  • The house in Henley Street is pictured above
  • Houses had thatched roofs consisting of thick straw, piled high, with no wood rafters
  • Tudor houses were generally timber-framed - the oak timbers were occasionally tarred black to render them weatherproof
  • Passages were not part of the design and one room opened directly into the next ( hence the drapes on the four-poster beds)
  • This meant that privacy was practically unknown in a Tudor house
  • Straw mattresses were being replaced with feather mattresses
  • There were few chairs instead stools or chests were used
  • Most houses had a garden growing vegetables, herbs and flowers
  • Mealtimes were at breakfast around 7 o'clock, 12 noon and 6 o'clock
  • Food was generally cooked over open fires and often consisted of vegetable stews in a copper pot
  • Baking, especially bread, was done in brick ovens set into the side of the fireplace
  • Food was eaten off wooden plates called trenchers ( wealthy households had pewter )
  • Hygiene was extremely poor and drinking water unclean. It was therefore customary for people to drink ale ( wealthy households would also drink wine )
  • The floors were dirt covered with rushes ( wealthy households had slate floors )
  • There are separate sections about Mary Arden and John Shakespeare
  • Learn more about the lives of the parents of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Index

Privacy Statement

Cookie Policy

2015 Siteseen Ltd