Shakespeare’s Baptism Record

You probably have much better eyes than me. But looking at a copy of Shakespeare’s actual baptism record, even I can see that the famous poet and playwright was not christened “William” by his parents! I underlined it in red ink above so you can see for yourself. His given name at baptism was actually “Guilielmus” so the Latin reads, “Guilielmus filius (son) of Johannes Shakespeare.

At this point, Shakespeare scholars will yell, “Woo-hoo!” or “We gotcha!” Because they will tell me that Guilielmus” is Latin for William.

But not so fast. Was that the parents’ true intention? Because “Guilielmus” is ALSO an Irish name pronounced like “Gilly” that is still in use today. Certainly David Bowie sang about Gilly in the song Ziggy Stardust.

Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly,
And The Spiders from Mars.
He played it left hand, but made it too far,
Became the special man,
Then we were Ziggy’s band.

Also, if John (or Johannes Shakespeare) had intended to name his son “William” the Latin word for William was clearly written as William in the baptismal record for people above Shakespeare and below Shakespeare. Therefore, he wanted the boy to be named “Guilielmus” or Gilly, not Willy.

In the late 1700’s, a man named William Shakespeare changed his name to William Hughes. Why? Because he was tired of being teased. “Willie” = penis. As does “Shakes-speare”. So I do not buy the “Guilielmus” means William explanation.