© Christopher Earls Brennen



There are two origins for the name "Badger", namely a habitational name from a place in Shropshire called Badger and an occupational name for a maker of bags or for a peddler who carried his wares about with him in a bag. It is unlikely that the surname has anything to do with the animal which was not known by this name until the 16th century. In England and Wales, the Badger name is commonest in two areas, Warwickshire/Staffordshire/Worcestershire and in Yorkshire (according to the 1891 census); in Scotland there were concentrations in Lanarkshire and in East Lothian.

Badger Coat of Arms in England

Badger is an uncommon name in Ireland. In 1901 there were only 89 Badgers, mostly Presbyterians living in County Derry or neighbouring County Tyrone, though there were also a small number of Catholic Badgers in County Galway. It seems likely that the Presbyterian Badgers were descended from a single individual who immigrated during the Plantation of Ulster. It is even possible that Robert Badger of Chapter 2 (or his father) was that individual.


Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon in the time of Shakespeare

A particular Badger about whom something is known was George Badger, the neighbor and colleague of John Shakespeare, father of the bard William Shakespeare.

The records show that the Shakespeare family had firm Catholic roots and that John had many connections with other Catholic families in Stratford-on-Avon. John was a glovemaker and lived in Henley Street. His closest neighbour was George Badger, a woollen draper, who was deprived of his office as alderman and even sent to prison for his Catholicism. As early as 1578 when a levy was made in Stratford partly to enforce anti-Catholic measures, John Shakespeare refused to pay, as did George Badger together with Thomas Reynolds and Thomas Nash, also Catholics and both fathers of two of Williamís school friends.

William Walford Jr., another prominent and wealthy Stratford woolen draper, possibly served his apprenticeship with George Badger, whose eldest daughter, Anne, he married in 1595, when she was sixteen. After the fire of 1595 he built a house on the east side of High Street, one of those in Stratford which have been restored to something like its original appearance. In November 1598 his wife and child died.

In 1597, John Shakespeare parted with a portion of his Henley Street property for the small sum of £2, the land apparently being of very little value in comparison with the house. The deed of conveyance to George Badger informs us that it was bounded on the north by the Guild Pits. The deed dated Aug.14, 1591, reads that ... whereby George Badger senior of Stratford-upon-Avon in the county of Warwick, draper, for divers good causes and considerations did give deliver and confirm unto John Court of Oldborough in the county of Worcester, yeoman, and William Court of Stratford aforesaid, yeoman, all that messuage or tenement with the appurtenances situate lying and being in Stratford aforesaid in a certain street there called Henley Street between the house of Robert Johnson on the one part and the house of John Shakespeare on the other part, with all houses edifices buildings orchards gardens lands tenements hereditaments proffitts and commodities with the appurtenances to the said messuage or tenement belonging; and also two sellions of land containing by estimation two acres of arrable land lying and being within the field of Stratford aforesaid between the land of Thomas Combe gent. of the one part and the lands of Thomas Raynolds on the other part, To hold to said John Court and William Court and their heirs and assigns for ever to the use of said George Badger senior and Alice his wife for their lives and the life of the survivor of them, remainder to George Badger jun. son of said George Badger sen. and the heirs male of his body, remainder to Edward, Richard, William, and Robert Badger, sons of said George Badger sen. one after another, and their heirs male respeetively, remainder to the right heirs of said George Badger senior for ever.

In another deed dated Jan.26, 1597, John Shakespeare ... in consideration of £2 10 0 by said George Badger senior did bargain sale give deliver and confirm unto said George Badger his heirs and assigns all that toft or parcell of land in Stratford in Henley Street aforesaid, the house of said Shakespeare being on the East part thereof, and the house of said George Badger on the West part thereof, to hold to said George Badger his heirs and assigns.

John Shakespeare probably lived in the house in Henley Street until his death; and Joan Hart, Shakespeare's sister, resided there in 1616 and 1639.

Stratford-upon-Avon in the time of Shakespeare

Last updated 10/20/09.

Christopher E. Brennen