Tuesday, October 14, 2014


King Henry VIII separated the Church of England from the Catholic Church in 1533 and decreed marriage between first cousins legal, leading to perhaps the most complex family tree ever! 

Technically, William Shakespeare has no direct descendants.   However his mother is our 13th great grand aunt, sister to our 13th great grandmother.  Thus his maternal grandparents (Robert & Mary Webb Arden) are our 14th great grandparents.  On his father's side his, John Alexander Webb is his Great Grandfather and also our 15th Great Grandfather.   Richard Webb came to America in about 1629.  He is Beatrice Scofield Syska's 9th Great Grandfather and William Shakespeare's 2nd Cousin.


The Arden Family takes its name from the Forest of Arden in Warwickshire and can trace it's male lineage back to the Anglo Saxon time period prior to the 11th century Norman Invasion.

Ralph De Arden (1373-1421)  m.  Sibell DeBelgrave -  18th GRGR
Robert De Arden (1413-1451) m. Elizabeth Clodshale - 17th GRGR
Walter De Arden (1441-1502) m. Eleanor Hampden   -  16th GRGR
Thomas Arden (1469-1546)  m. unknown - 15th GRGR
Robert Arden (1506-1556) m. Mary Webb  and  Grace Arden (1514-  ) m. Henry Webb  - both are my 14th GRGR
Mary Arden (1537 -  )  m. John Shakespeare   (Mary is my 13th great grand aunt)
Margaret Arden (1538-1608) m.   Alexander Webb.  - 13th GRGR

Castle Bromwich Hall
John Arden (  -1526), apparently inherited the Arden family's primary estate at Park Hall, Castle Bromwich.   John Arden had fallen in love with Alice Bracebridge (a distant cousin), but his father,  Sir Walter  disapproved.  John was kidnapped & taken to bracebridge Hall.  Arbitrators appointed by King Edward IV, at the request of Sir Walter, permitted the marriage but ordered Richard Bracebridge to give Sir Walter his best horse for trespassing during the Kidnapping.  In 1502 John Arden inherited Park Hall in Castle Bromwich, while his younger brother, Thomas (1469-1546) settled at Wilmcote near Stratford upon Avon.



Sir John Alexander Webb (1484-1516)  - 15th GRGR
Henry Alexander Webb (1510-1544) m. Grace Arden and Mary Webb (1512-1550) m. Robert Arden   -  14th GRGR
Sir Alexander Webb Sr. (1534-1573) m. Margaret Arden  - 13th GRGR
Sir Alexander Webb Jr. (1559-1629) m. Mary Wilson  - 12th GRGR
Richard Webb (1594-1676) m. Grace Wilson  - 11th GRGR

Sir John Alexander Webb (1484-1516) - 15th GRGR,  an officer in King Henry VIII's army, had four children by an unknown wife,  including Mary, Abigail, Sir Henry Alexander Webb and Margaret.  Our family is related to Mary and Henry.
  • Mary Webb (1512-1550)  married Robert Arden (1506-1556) and had 2 daughters.
    • Mary Arden Shakespeare (1537-) who married John Shakespeare and gave birth to William . - see below
    • Margaret Arden Webb (1538-1608 ) who married Sir Alexander Webb Sr. and whose descendants emigrated to America  - see below
Mary Arden Home
  • Abigail Webb Shakespeare (1515-  ) married  her first cousin, Richard Shakespeare in 1532 and had 2 sons- John and Henry.
    • John Shakespeare also married his first cousin Mary Arden (1537 -  ), daughter of Robert Arden & Mary Webb (Abigail's sister), in 1557.  They had eight children including William Shakespeare. 
  • Sir Henry Alexander Webb (1510-1544):    Presumably named after King Henry, he was an usher in the Privy Council of Queen Regent Catherine Parr (King Henry's 6th wife), who granted him lands and privileges for his service. Henry married Grace Arden (1514- )  (daughter of Thomas Arden) and had three children:  Alexander, Agnes and Robert.  
    • Sir Alexander Webb Sr. (1534-1573) also married his first cousin, Margaret Arden (1538-1608)  who was the daughter of Robert Arden.
      • Sir Alexander Webb Jr. (1559-1629) married Mary Wilson (1561-1629) emigrated to America abt 1629  with their family including Richard Webb (1594-1676) (my 11th gr gr)


  1. Just discovered a connection to these Webbs through a Sarah Webb married to Rev. Samuel Arnold. She would have been a great granddaughter of Alexander and Mary (Wilson) Webb. Amazing stuff.

    1. Yes, we are also related through Alexander & Mary Webb as I imagine a many Americans are. It is a fascinating family tree. Good luck with your search.

  2. Haha. This has to be the most difficult genealogy knot to explain. These four people, who are either Grandma-aunts or Grandpa-uncles. I don't even know what that makes William. My once-removed,double,double...double-cousin? Being that we share the same Aunty Grandma. Anywho, it is nice to see posts from some family o/. I'm a grandkin of Christopher Webb. Richard Webb's little brother.

    1. Nathan, it is indeed a complex family tree. Richard Webb (brother of Christopher) is my 11th great grandfather which makes William shakespeare my first cousin 14x removed, if that helps.