Shakespeare’s family was not large by standards of the time. Shakespeare’s sister, Joan, was his only sibling to survive him. She was five years younger than him and much loved by him. He died a rich man and he left her well provided for in his will with both property and money. He also made sure that her sons would be comfortable.
There was a third sister, also unknown to Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s sister, Margaret, was born in 1562. she lived for one year, probably dying of the Black Death.
The fourth of Shakespeare’s sisters was Anne, who was born in 1571 when the Bard was seven years old. What a sorrow it must have been for the teenaged William when she died from the Black Death aged eight. We know that in spite of the family’s sever financial problems at that time she was given a very expensive funeral.
Families at that time were large. It was important to have as many children as possible because the child mortality rate was high. The Shakespeare boys all survived. Richard died in 1613, aged 38, and Gilbert in 1612, aged 46, and William in 1616 aged 52.
Joan lived on to see her brother become even more famous than he had been in his lifetime.
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