When looking at Shakespeare’s family there is some historical documentation of at least two of William Shakespeare’s grandparents.
Shakespeare’s paternal grandfather was Richard Shakespeare. Richard Shakespeare was a tenant farmer in Snitterfield, a village about four miles from Stratford. He was constantly in trouble for grazing too many cattle on Common Land then not attending court. In spite of the danger he professed strong Catholic beliefs and we know that because he insisted on them in his last will and testament. The aristocrat who owned the land he farmed was Robert Arden. Richard Shakespeare had two sons; Richard and John. John Shakespeare went on to become Shakespeare’s father.
Shakespeare’s maternal grandfather was Robert Arden. The Ardens were part of a noble Catholic family, the Ardens of Park Hall, whose ancestors had been given land by William the Conqueror. Robert Arden’s wife was Agnes Hill. They had eight daughters and Mary Arden – who went on to become Shakespeare’s mother – was the youngest. Mary was sixteen when her father died and he left her some money and some land in Wilmecote.
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