On 11 August 1596, William Shakespeare buried his only son, Hamnet.
|Would Hamnet have looked like his father William Shakespeare, as drawn here at the age of 12?|
from Harper's Young People, 1880
Not long after Hamnet died, Shakespeare applied for a coat of arms at the College of Arms in London. They still have his handwritten application.
The Latin motto that Shakespeare chose for his coat of arms was "Non Sanz Droit." It roughly translates as "not without right." For a man whose family was not considered noble and of the gentle class, and therefore whose rights were limited, it was an important message.
Shakespeare was declaring that he and his family, who now had the gentle status, had as much rights as anyone else in England. Shakespeare was declaring that he had arrived, and the Shakespeare name would live on.
|Coat of Arms Application|
|The hand-drawn image for the coat of arms|
|English actor Charles Macklin as Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice at Covent Garden, London, 1767-68, by Johann Zoffany|
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