Descendant of Shakespeare's sister finally gets official recognition aged 98

A great-grandmother who is a descendant of William Shakespeare's family is feeling all's well that ends well after her name was formally added to the bard's archives.

Sheila Tuckey’s name was recently added to archives confirming that she is a relative of William Shakespeare
Sheila Tuckey’s name was recently added to archives confirming that she is a relative of William Shakespeare

Sheila Tuckey, 98, explains that she has known almost all her life that she was a descendant of the famous writer's sister Joan and her husband William Hart, who married in 1599. Sheila's mother Florence Millington, nee Florence Haines, came from the line.

Following in her mother's footsteps Sheila paid a visit to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archives in Stratford-Upon Avon to be officially photographed for the records.

The charity fundraiser, of Upper Longdon near Rugeley, explains: "I feel really proud to be related to such a famous family. I studied Romeo and Juliet at school. I've known for 70 years that we were related to William Shakespeare.

"My great-granddad Frederick Haines had said that we were relatives and he told my grandad George Christopher Haines. It was a story that passed down by word of mouth through the generations.

"Then after the Second World War my uncle Christopher Haines decided to research the family tree and the story turned out to be true.

"I did take my mother for her details to be put in the archives many years ago, but I didn't think of adding myself.

"During the coronavirus lockdown I decided that there were three things that I really wanted to do, and these were finding out more about my great-grandad Frederick who was a Freeman of Gloucester; organising a Christmas fair for my church, which I did last year and raised over £600; and I wanted to go to Stratford to run my name through the archives to see what came up.

Sheila Tuckey is making preparations to host a charity event

"I had to sign to have my photo taken to be placed on record so that descendants of the family in the future can see what I looked like.

"I went along with my grandsons Richard and Christopher and Christopher's wife Laura, and they looked after me as it was a bit overwhelming. We got a great reception in Stratford. We spent all morning looking through the archives.

"The staff were saying that it was lovely to meet members of the family. We didn't have to pay and they gave us tickets to visit Anne Hathaway's Cottage. We're all very proud of our heritage."

She was also shown Hart family baptism, marriage and burial records dating from Shakespeare's time held by the trust.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust collections manager Amy Hurst said: "Sheila's family come to see us periodically. She's an extraordinary person.

"It was a great privilege to be part of introducing the Shakespeare family ties to a new generation of Shakespeare’s family descendants.

The mother-of-seven was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and spent most of her life in Chase Terrace, Burntwood, where she raised her family. Her first husband Arthur Mapp died in 1995 after 52 years of marriage. She married second husband Edward Tuckey in 2008 and he died in 2012.

The family tree of William Shakespeare's sister Joan Hart

Sheila has six surviving children: Sheila, 67; Kathryn, 63; Christopher, 75; David, 74; Richard, 78; and Robert, 65.

There will be no love's labour's lost when she hosts a charity pre-Christmas fair with the help of the family on November 19 at the 1st Chase Terrace Scout Group headquarters, in Ironstone Road, Chase Terrace near Burntwood from 11am to 2pm.

Entertainment will be provided by her grandson Jonathon Caulton, a session musician, and attractions include a hog roast, handicrafts, gift stalls and guessing games.

Proceeds will be donated to the Marie Curie cancer charity which cared for her late grandson Simon Mapp, who died last year.

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