Mary Shakespeare

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Mary Arden was the mother of William Shakespeare. She was the youngest of eight daughters and lived in a farmhouse that was built in 1514. Mary’s father, Robert Arden, was a member of the Guild of the Holy Cross, an important communal Stratford institution. Upon his death, Robert left Mary a significant amount of land in Wilmcote together with a sum of £6 13s 4d (equivalent to £30,000 in current value).


A year after her father’s death, Mary married John Shakespeare and moved to Henley Street. Mary’s date of birth is unknown; she was likely to have been born between the years 1536-8. This means that she was between 19-21 when she got married and left her father’s home. There was no mention of their engagement before Robert’s death so he was likely her choice.  He was an upcoming businessman with a house in Stratford at that time.


Documents in the collection feature her seal, a tiny horse, and what is possibly a signature


Mary may have lived with William and his family at New Place when John died, later in her life.  However, she may have stayed with her daughter, Joan Hart, in Henley Street.


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