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Shakespeare's illegitimate son

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Biography - Was Sir William Davenant his illegitimate son?

Shakespeare had three legitimate children by Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, a son and two daughters. Hamnet Shakespeare, his son, died when he was eleven years old. Susanna Shakespeare married Dr. John Hall and had a daughter called Elizabeth. But although Elizabeth was twice married she had no children.

Judith Shake-speare married a disreputable man called Richard Quiney and they had three children, Shakespeare Quiney, Richard Quiney and Thomas Quiney. None of Judith's children survived to have children of their own. Click the following link for full details of the children and grandchildren of William Shakespeare.

So we have the situation where there were no direct descendants of the Bard. It is not surprising therefore, that perhaps partly due to wishful thinking, rumours started to circulate that Will Shakespear had fathered an illegitimate son William Davenant. This page is therefore dedicated to the possible illegitimate son of the Bard, Sir William Davenant. 

Will Shakespear lived and worked in London leaving his wife, Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, to raise his family in Stratford. William naturally paid frequent visits to his home. His journey took him through Oxford. Shakespeare apparently often stayed at the Crown Tavern (or Town Inn) in Oxford. The proprietor of the Crown Tavern was a wealthy vintner called John Davenant. He was an influential man who, at one time, held the office of Mayor of Oxford. His wife's name was Jane Shepherd Davenant and she gave birth to a son who was named Will Davenant. The son was born in late February 1606. It is understood that Will Shake-speare stood as his Godfather when he was baptised on the 3rd of March 1606.

Sir Will Davenant was a Playwright, Theater Manager and a Poet. He was extremely successful and a staunch supported of Charles II, who bestowed upon Will the title and the rank of a Knight. Queen Henrietta Maria was Sir William Davenant's patron. He wrote and produced many plays and his poetry was such that he followed in the footsteps of Ben Jonson and was appointed Poet Laureate in 1638. The rumour relating to his parentage appears to have flared from a comment made about Davenant by Samuel Butler. Butler is said to have made the comment, "It seemed to him ( Davenant ) that he writ with the very same spirit that Shakespeare (did), and seemed content enough, to be called his son." It would appear that Davenant did not initially allay these rumours! Davenant died in his house at Lincoln's Inn Fields on the 7th April 1668 and was buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey two days later. On the marble stone above his grave is inscribed "O rare Sir Will. Davenant," in imitation of Ben Jonson's epitaph. His coffin did not, however, carry the prestigious laurel wreath.

Children and Grandchildren Biography Judith, Hamnet, Susanna - Shakespeare, Richard and Thomas
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