Joan Shakespeare

(b. 1558)

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a Sister of William, baptized 15 September 1558; died young.

b Another sister, also Joan, baptized 15 April 1569; married a hatter, William Hart; had four children; lived in the Birthplace in Henley Street, and by her brother William's will received ‘£20 and all my wearing apparel … and … the house with the appurtenances in Stratford wherein she dwelleth for her natural life under the yearly rent of 12d.’ Her husband was buried one week before William Shakespeare.

Joan continued to live as a widow in Henley Street, and was buried on 4 November 1646. Their daughter, Mary, lived only from 1603 to 1607. Shakespeare left £5 to each of their three sons, William (1600–39), who died unmarried; Thomas (1605, died before 1670), who married, and succeeded his mother in the Birthplace; and Michael (1608–18).

The Birthplace belonged to Susanna Hall, whose daughter Elizabeth left it and the adjoining Henley Street house to Thomas's two sons, Thomas (b. 1634) and George (1636–1702). George's descendants occupied the Birthplace till 1806, when it was sold to Thomas Court. Descendants of the Harts are the closest surviving relatives of Shakespeare.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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