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Parish Register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
September 15,
1558

DR243/1: Baptismal register, folio 1 recto

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DR243/1: Baptismal register, folio 1 recto
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has graciously contributed images under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Visitors may download, link to and cite the images for personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the images, commercial or third party use, is strictly prohibited. Visitors must contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to request additional use, at: images.scla@shakespeare.org.uk

Document-specific information
Creator: Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Title: Parish Register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Date: 1558-1776
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: DR243/1: Baptismal register, fol. 1r

 

Item Creator
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Item Title
Parish Register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Item Date
1558-1776, entry for September 15, 1558
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
DR243/1: Baptismal register, fol. 1r

DR243/1: Baptismal register, folio 1 recto, entry detail

View Image Assets
DR243/1: Baptismal register, folio 1 recto, entry detail
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Terms of use
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has graciously contributed images under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Visitors may download, link to and cite the images for personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the images, commercial or third party use, is strictly prohibited. Visitors must contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to request additional use, at: images.scla@shakespeare.org.uk

Document-specific information
Creator: Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Title: Parish Register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Date: 1558-1776
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: DR243/1: Baptismal register, fol. 1r

 

Item Creator
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Item Title
Parish Register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Item Date
1558-1776, entry for September 15, 1558
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
DR243/1: Baptismal register, fol. 1r

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Terms of use
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has graciously contributed images under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Visitors may download, link to and cite the images for personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the images, commercial or third party use, is strictly prohibited. Visitors must contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to request additional use, at: images.scla@shakespeare.org.uk

Document-specific information
Creator: Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Title: Parish Register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Date: 1558-1776
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: DR243/1: Baptismal register, fol. 1r

 

Joan, John and Mary Shakespeare’s first child, was baptized on September 15, 1558, according to the Holy Trinity Church parish register. Next to the entry, an “X” added by a later hand highlights its significance. Stratford’s parish registers do not survive earlier than March 1558, but, given that Mary Shakespeare was single when her father, Robert Arden, made his will two years earlier in November 1556, there is no real doubt that Joan was her first child. Therefore, unless Mary was already pregnant at the time of her marriage to John Shakespeare, or Joan was born prematurely, we can date John and Mary’s marriage to mid-to-late 1557. 

This is the only known reference to Joan. She presumably died soon afterwards, possibly during the severe influenza and typhus epidemics of the late 1550s, which some historians believe reduced the country’s population by up to 20%. However, a record of her burial has not been traced. Stratford’s burial register does show a very high mortality rate from September 1558 to March 1559, but this is followed by a mere trickle of burials for the rest of the year and for much of 1560. This cannot represent a sudden and dramatic reduction in Stratford deaths, but more likely reflects a breakdown in recordkeeping as the result of the severe epidemic, one victim of which was probably John Shakespeare’s daughter.

The register shown here is a 1600 copy of the one in use in 1558. If the recordkeeping was muddled or incomplete because of high mortality in the 1550s, this would have been readily apparent from the state of the original register. Its copying in 1600, however, makes it more difficult to detect the collapse in burial registration.    

Written by Robert Bearman

Last updated January 18, 2016