John Shakespeare

Died aged c. 70

John Shakespeare (c. 1531 – 7 September 1601) was an English businessman in Stratford-upon-Avon and the father of William Shakespeare. He was a glover and whittawer (leather worker) by trade. Shakespeare was elected to several municipal offices, serving as an alderman and culminating in a term as bailiff, the chief magistrate of the town council, and mayor of Stratford in 1568, before he fell on hard times for reasons unknown. His fortunes later revived and he was granted a coat of arms five years before his death, probably at the instigation and expense of his son, the actor and playwright. He married Mary Arden, with whom he had eight children, five of whom survived into adulthood.

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Family tree

Commemorated on 3 plaques

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

The Guildhall and Grammar School The Guildhall was built in 1417-20 as the headquarters of the Guild of the Holy Cross. In 1553 following the suppression of the Guild, the building was granted to the newly-formed Stratford Corporation by Edward VI. It served as the council's meeting place for the next 300 years, including the year 1568-9 when William Shakespeare's father, John, served as Balliff. The Guild's school, re-founded as The Kyng's Newe Scole in 1553, occupied part of the upper floor from the 1560s and it was here that William Shakespeare was eduated. In the late 1500s travelling players performed regularly in the Guildhall providing Shakespeare with his first experience of professional theatre. The Guildhall continues to be used for teaching by King Edward VI School.

The Guildhall and Grammar School - Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom where they served as Bailiff (1568-1569)