It is apparent that Anne Hathaway
became pregnant prior to marriage which would have no doubt caused
a scandal for both of the families. Not an auspicious start for
a marriage or a perfect choice of a wife for the son of an ambitious
family. William Shakespeare's father John, in particular, would
not have been pleased at the detrimental effect that the gossip
would have had on his own social standing in Stratford. A hasty
affair would have been arranged.
ARRANGEMENTSFOR THE WEDDING
From the will of her late father it seems that Anne Hathaway
brought a dowry to the marriage. A dowry was an amount of money,
goods, and property that the bride would bring to the marriage.
It was also referred to as her marriage portion. The arrangements
for the wedding of Anne Hathaway and William Shakespeare would have
been with the local church. Weddings were always a religious ceremony,
conducted by a minister. There were no Registry Office marriages
or marriages conducted by a Justice of the Peace. The first stage
was Crying the Banns, announcing a couples intention to marry. The
same procedure still applies to Church marriages in England today.
The intention to marry must be announced in the church three times
on three consecutive Sundays or holy days. This allows time for
any objections to be raised or pre-contracts to be discovered. Any
marriage not published before hand was considered clandestine and
illegal. An alternative, faster, route to legalising a ceremony
required a marriage bond which acted as security and proof to a
bishop that the issue of a marriage licence was lawful with a sworn
statement that there were no pre-contracts. The existence of such
a marriage bond would require only one reading of the Banns, thus
speeding the marriage process.
THE LEGAL DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE MARRIAGE
The recordings in the Episcopal register at Worcester on November
27th 1582 and November 27th 1582
show that William Shakespeare wanted to marry a girl named Anne.
The confusion begins. Both days have different entries.
November 27th 1582 the issue of a marriage license to one Wm Shakespeare
stating the following:
Anno Domini 1582...Novembris...27 die eiusdem
mensis. Item eodem die supradicto
emanavit Licentia inter Wm Shaxpere et Annam Whateley de Temple
On 28 November, 1582, two husbandmen of Stratford,
named Sandells and Richardson, became sureties for £40 in the consistory
court of Worcester to free the bishop from liability in case of
lawful impediment, by pre-contract or consanguinity, to the marriage
of “William Shagspeare and Anne Hathwey” which might proceed hereupon
with only one publication of banns. The episcopal register records
the marriage bond granted to one Wm Shakespeare stating that the
condition of this obligation is such that if hereafter there shall
not appear any lawful let, or impediment by reason, of any precontract,
consanguinity, affinity or by any other lawful means whatsoever,
that William Shagspere and Anne Hathwey may lawfully solemnize matrimony
The documents apparently refer to two different
women; Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton and Anne Hathwey of Stratford.
The interpretation of these documents have led to all sorts of speculation.
Was Shakespeare involved with two women, both called by the same
first name? Did he intend to marry Miss Whateley but as soon
as the license was issued did Anne Hathaway intervene saying that
she was pregnant? Did he really love Miss Whateley but was
forced to marry Miss Hathwey due to her pregnancy? Or was the name
simply entered incorrectly on the first document? Or was she in
fact a widow and therefore known by either Whateley or Hathwey (
Hathaway ) by local people?
There is no way that this mystery can be solved.
We know that the documents exist. We also know that as William Shakespeare
was under the age of consent that his father would have had to agree
to the marriage. We know that the marriage bond via the Bishop,
John Whitgift, would have enabled Anne and William to marry more
quickly than the conventional route via the Reading of the Banns
over a three week period. And we of course know that William Shakespeare
married Anne Hathaway and took her as his wife.
THE MARRIAGE OF MISS HATHAWAYAND WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were granted a marriage
licence by the Bishop of Worcester. They were married at Temple
Grafton, a village approximately five miles (8 km) from Stratford.
After their marriage , as was the custom, Anne Hathaway Shakespeare
would have left her home at Hewland Farm to live with William Shake-speare
in his father, John Shakespeare's house on Henley Street in Stratford.
Six months after the wedding and marriage, in May 1583, Anne and
William became the parents of Susanna, the reason for Will and Anne
Hathaway having to marry with such haste. The baptism of Susanna
was conducted on May 26, in Stratford Parish Church. Will and his
wife Anne Hathaway started their married life in Stratford and full
details of the great bard and his wife are detailed in the following