Together John and Mary Shakespeare had eight children. The first child born to John and Mary was a girl and they had named her Joan. However, she died within months of being born due to plague. The second child born to William’s parents was again a girl, who they named Margaret. Like her older sister even Margaret did not live for a long time. William was the first male child but third child born to his parents in 1564.
In 1566, Gilbert the fourth child was born. Gilbert is believed to have contracted plague but he successfully recovered from the same. Gilbert went to school with William. But they were removed from school and asked to assist their father. Gilbert also went to London to pursue a career. Gilbert along with his father and brother was granted coat-of-arms.
William Shakespeare Parents
Gilbert in 1609 appeared in court in Stratford. He was a bachelor throughout his life and in 1612 Gilbert died at Stratford. The next sibling of William was Joan who was born in 1569. She was named after her deceased sister. Joan Shakespeare was illiterate like her parents. She married William Hart who was a hatter. Together Joan and William had four children, two of whom died young. They named their sons William and Michael.
How many brothers and sisters did Shakespeare have?
William Shakespeare’s parents had lost two infant daughters when he was born. The elder sister Joan died an infant, within a few weeks of her birth and Margaret died a year after.
The younger siblings were Gilbert Shakespeare, Joan, Anne, Richard and Edmund. William Shakespeare thus had five siblings born after him.
Was William Shakespeare the oldest child?
Shakespeare is generally considered the oldest child among the Shakespeare siblings because, although he had two sisters before him, they were already dead before he was born. Both the girls died at very young ages and therefore, William was the one to grow up and take the responsibilities of the family.
William Hart like his uncle became an actor and worked for The King’s Men Company. William Hart died in 1616, a week before the death of William Shakespeare. Joan Hart died in 1646. Anne Shakespeare was born in 1571. Anne Shakespeare died in 1579 at a young age of 8 years probably due to plague. In 1574, Richard was born to John and Mary Shakespeare.
Very little is known about Gilbert Shakespeare’s life. He worked in London as a haberdasher i.e. he sold supplies of needlework such as needles, threads, ribbons etc. Gilbert lived in the St. Brides parish.
He moved back to Stratford later and served as William Shakespeare’s agent in his absence, in receiving the deeds of a property in Old Stratford that William had bought.
There is very little information about Richard Shakespeare. It is believed that he was not very educated and that he never got married. It is assumed that he never left Stratford to pursue a career. He died in 1613, one year after the death of his older brother Gilbert. The last of the Shakespeare siblings were Edmund and he was born in 1580.
Edmund followed the footsteps of William and went to London to pursue a career in acting. He also acted in many of William Shakespeare’s plays. Edmund died an untimely death in 1607 when he was only 27 years old. It is believed that he died of the plague. Edmund was buried in St. Saviour’s Church in Southwark.
Edmund was the youngest Shakespeare sibling. He followed the footsteps of his elder brother William and joined the London stages – he became an actor. However, he probably could not become successful or even secure a steady income.
Edmund died in 1607 and William Shakespeare is believed to have paid the expenses for his burial.