Shakspeare History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Shakspeare thought to be of Norman heritage. It is a name for a person who was a confrontational or argumentative person. The name was originally derived from the Old English schakken, meaning to brandish, and speer, meaning spear.

Early Origins of the Shakspeare family

The surname Shakspeare was first found in Cumberland where some of the earliest records of the name include "John Shakespeare, who in 1279 was living at 'Freyndon,' perhaps Frittenden, Kent." [1] and "Henry Shakespere who was a holder of a ploughland in the parish of Kirkland in the year 1350." [2]

The author continues on that as the name was a "Border" name (one on the Scottish/English borders), it no doubt had "its rise in those feuds." And later on, he notes that the previous "earliest" record was of "Thomas Shakespeare, who was officially connected with the port of Youghal, in Ireland, in 1375. " The surname is clearly not Irish as confirmed by MacLysaght and O'Hart, which begs the question how did such an early entry of the name get there?

The famed dramatist and poet William Shakespeare's (1564-1616), ancestry "cannot be traced with certainty beyond his grandfather. The poet's father when applying for a grant of arms in 1596, claimed that his grandfather and the poet's great-grandfather received for services rendered in war a grant of land in Warwickshire from Henry VII." [1]

However, we do know that "Adam Shakespeare, a tenant by military service of land at Baddesley Clinton in 1389, was great-grandfather of one Richard Shakespeare, who held land at Wroxhall in Warwickshire in 1525." [1]

Early History of the Shakspeare family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shakspeare research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1564, 1616, 1774, 1858 and 1805 are included under the topic Early Shakspeare History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Shakspeare Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Shakespeare, Shakspeare and others.

Early Notables of the Shakspeare family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is often called England's national poet, and the "Bard of...
Another 38 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shakspeare Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Shakspeare family to Ireland

Some of the Shakspeare family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 39 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Shakspeare migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Shakspeare or a variant listed above were:

Shakspeare Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Shakspeare, who settled in Virginia in 1766
  • William Shakspeare, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1774
Shakspeare Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Shakspeare, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Shakspeare (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Ansoetegui Shakspeare (1837-1896), American politician, Mayor of New Orleans from 1880 to 1882 and from 1888 to 1892

The Shakspeare Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Non sanz droict
Motto Translation: Not without right.

  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook
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