The Marriage of William Shakespeare
and Anne Hathaway
THE COURTSHIP! A SCANDAL!
lived in a small village called Shottery and
Stratford-upon-Avon would have been the nearest town, only 1
mile away, with shops and a market
She was the
daughter of Richard Hathaway, one of eight children, who
lived in a farmhouse called Hewland Farm in Shottery
Anne would not
have attended any school and was therefore illiterate. She
would have seen marriage as an important event - when she
met William Shakespeare she was 25/26 years old and probably
was viewed as being 'left on the shelf' - but she did have a
dowry! A dowry consisted of money, goods, and/or property
that an Elizabethan woman might bring to a marriage
have been only 17/18 years old when he courted Anne - she
was 8 years older!
pregnant prior to their marriage! A Scandal! Gossip! The
Shakespeare and Hathaway families must have been furious!
Hasty arrangements must have been arranged for the marriage
MARRIAGE ARRANGEMENTS -
PERMISSION FROM THE BISHOP!
The age of
consent for marriage was 21 (and boys would generally not
marry until they had reached this age) As William was only
18 he would have needed his father's permission to marry!
There were no
Registry Office marriages or marriages conducted by a
Justice of the Peace. Everyone was married in Church
and Anne needed to get married as quickly as possible! Their
intention to marry had to be announced in the church 3 times
on three consecutive Sundays or Holy days - this is called
Crying the Banns. Reading the Banns allowed time for any
objections to be raised or pre-contracts to be discovered
A marriage would
not be legal if the Banns were not read! This would mean a
delay to the wedding! But there was an alternative, faster
way than reading the Banns! Permission from a Bishop!
statement confirming that there were no pre-contracts and
the marriage would be lawful was presented to the Bishop of
The Bishop of
Worcester then issued a Marriage Bond, confirming that the
marriage would be lawful
Bond was presented at the local church. This meant that only
one reading of the Banns was required!
THE MARRIAGE - THE LEGAL BIT!
THE MYSTERY! THE CONFUSION!
There are two
documents regarding the marriage - but the names conflict!
There are 2
different entries mentioned in the Episcopal Register
at Worcester on November 27th 1582 and November 28th 1582
The entry on
27th November refers to the marriage of "Wm Shaxpere et
Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton"
The entry on
28th November refers to the marriage of "William Shagspeare
and Anne Hathwey"
Ann Whateley or
Anne Hathwey? Was there a mystery? Was William involved with
two different women? Or was this simply an Admin error?
spellings were used at the time - there were at least 16
different spellings of Shakespeare including Shakspere,
Shakespere, Shakkespere, Shaxpere, Shakstaff, Sakspere,
Shagspere, Shakeshafte and even Chacsper! Shakespeare always
signed himself as "Shakspere"
THE WEDDING! ELIZABETHAN
Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married at Temple
Grafton, a small village five miles (8 km) from
There are no
details of their actual wedding but we do know a little
about the marriage and wedding customs of people, similar in
social standing to William Shakespeare, during the
invitations were sent - people were told about the marriage
and just turned up!
The bride did
not wear white - she would wear her best gown. Nobility wore
expensive Velvet, Satins and Corduroy common folk wore gowns
made of Flax, Cotton and wool. The necks and cuffs of gowns
were decorated with silk or linen ruffs. A shift, or
chemise, would be worn beneath the gown
The bride would
carry flowers and might also wear flowers in her hair
The bride's hair
would have been worn loose (once married it had to be hidden
beneath a bonnet!)
There would be
bridesmaids who would wear similar clothes
wore his best clothes consisting of a doublet, breeches,
hose, neck ruff and a cod piece
occasionally given to the Bride and Groom
wedding processions when the couple would be accompanied to
Church by the guests - music would be played
ceremony was a sombre affair - there were no seats in
churches - everyone stood!
wedding feasts! Lots of food and lots of wine!
AFTER THE MARRIAGE!
After their marriage Anne
left her home at Hewland Farm to live with William Shakespeare
They moved into the house in
Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon owned by William's father
They shared the living
quarters with Shakespeare's parents and his brothers and sisters
William Shakespeare would
have received Anne's dowry from her father, Richard Hathaway
The Marriage of
William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway