marriage, Shakespeare's

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On 27 November 1582, a special licence was issued by the Bishop of Worcester for the marriage of ‘Willelmum Shaxpere et Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton.’ On the following day Fulk Sandells and John Richardson, friends of the bride's family, entered into a bond of L40 exempting the Bishop and his officers from liability if the marriage of ‘William Shagspere … and Anne Hathwey of Stratford’, which was to take place ‘with once asking of the bannes of matrimony’, should prove invalid.

This procedure was normal. Banns were forbidden between the beginning of Advent and the end of Epiphany, in 1582–3 between 2 December and 13 January. Shakespeare's could have been read on 30 November, and he could have married at any time after that. Anne's pregnancy explains why he would not have wished to wait till the banns could have been asked three times.

The licence presents a problem in naming ‘Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton.’ We know from other evidence that Shakespeare's bride was Anne Hathaway. Errors in names are not uncommon in the registers; and Anne Hathaway may have been living at Temple Grafton, which is three-and-a-half miles west of Shottery. It is not known where the marriage took place; there is a late-recorded tradition that it was at Luddington, a small village near Stratford-upon-Avon.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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