John Shakespeare
(1531-1601)

Died aged c. 70

John Shakespeare (c. 1531 – 7 September 1601) was the father of William Shakespeare. He was the son of Richard Shakespeare of Snitterfield, a farmer. He moved to Stratford-upon-Avon and married Mary Arden, with whom he had eight children, five of whom survived into adulthood. A well-to-do glover and whittawer (leather worker) by trade, Shakespeare was a dealer in hides and wool, and was elected to several municipal offices, serving as an alderman and culminating in a term as bailiff, the chief magistrate of the town council, before he fell on hard times for reasons unknown to historians. His fortunes later revived after the success of his son, and he was granted a coat of arms five years before his death, probably at the instigation and expense of his playwright son.

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Family tree

Commemorated on 2 plaques

Elliott Brown on Flickr
Elliott Brown on Flickr

Shakespeare's father John Shakespeare is reputed by some historians to have owned Brook House at the time of Shakespeare's birth. The foundations of the house which stood on this site are still buried in the gardens of the Arden Hotel

The Arden Hotel, Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom where they owned a house

King Edward VI School Shakespeare's School This Guildhall was built in 1420 and is the place where William Shakespeare was educated and first witnessed professional theatre. It served as the centre of civic life in Stratford for over 400 years and was the building in which Shakespeare's father, John, served as the town's bailiff. The Schoolroom on the upper floor is still in use today. As a state school we receive no government funding to support the upkeep of the Guildhall. The last major restoration of the building took place in 1891, and is now in urgent need of repair and conservation. We have made an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund but we need to raise in excess of £200,000 ourselves. We will then be able to open it to the public on a daily basis when lessons are not being taught.

King Edward VI School - Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom where they served as the town's bailiff