See How William Shakespeare's Parents were First Cousins!

Cousins for Parents? William Shakespeare's genealogy gives us a perfect example of "Common Ancestors." Common Ancestors are individuals who show up multiple times in your genealogy because they are connected to you in more than one genealogical line. In other words, their descendants married each other! (We all have them in our genealogies.) In times past, it was not an "uncommon" occurrence to marry a cousin.

William Shakespeare's "Common Ancestors" are closer to him than most of our common ancestors would be. His grandmothers, Mary Webb and Abigail Webb, are sisters. That makes his parents first cousins. His "Common Ancestors" are his great-grand parents, they appear in his fathers line and his mothers line.

See it for yourself-it's fun!
  1. Click here to open Genealogy Browser for William Shakespeare.
  2. Select the "Common Ancestor Connections" icon in the tool bar.
  3. Notice the blue lines appear in the Starfield? (pedigree on the right of half of the screen).
  4. Unselect the "Common Ancestor Connections" icon.
  5. Select the "Trace Ancestry" icon and hold your mouse over one of William Shakespeare's great-grandparents. The great-grandparent's name boxes turn blue to indicate a "Common Ancestor."
  6. Notice the two lines that appear "tracing" each of William Shakespeare's paths to his Common Ancestors.
  7. You might also notice the pedigree statistics bar that lists the number of common ancestors.
  8. While you're there try a couple of other features out, especially the "Zoom" feature!

Check out the two blue lines in the pedigree. They run from William Shakespeare to his great-grandparents. And both sets of great-grandparents are the same, or common!

(Also note that toolbar Trace icon is on.)