John Whitgift was the bishop of Worcester from 1577 to 1583, when he was "translated" to the see of Canterbury. Worcester was 21 miles west of Stratford, and the consistory court there the place where a marriage license, issued to a local parish priest, might be obtained. Whitgift's register for the date November 27, 1582 indicates the issuance of a license for marriage between William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. At the time, Shakespeare would have been 18 years old. I reproduce the register entry below in facsimile, from Joseph William Gray, Shakespeare's Marriage, Chapman & Hall, 1905; followed by the context and literal translation from Cartae Shakespeareanae. Note that this is the entry from the Bishop's register, not the license itself, which has not survived.
The next day, November 28, 1582, a marriage bond was entered into by Fulke Sandells and John Rychardson, farmers of Shottery, Anne Hathaway's village. The purpose of the bond was to indemnify the church in case some later lawful impediment is found to the marriage since the banns were only going to be pronounced once, rather than the stipulated three times. The gentlemen in question were friends of the Hathaway family from Shottery, and stood surety for £40. In fact, Sandells seems to have been acting as agent for the Hathaway family, performing the duties of father since Richard Hathaway was recently deceased. Sandells had supervised his will, i.e., acted as trustee, and Rychardson had witnessed it. Richard Hathaway had been married twice. Anne was the firstborn of four children (1556) by his first wife. His first wife's name is unknown, but lived in Temple Grafton. His second wife was named Joan who died about 1600. Richard Hathaway died in September, 1581.
The bond clearly describes intended marriage between William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway of Stratford. I reproduce it in transcript below, from the Cartae Shakespeareanae, the beginning paragraph in...
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