surname recorded from 1248; it means "a spearman." This was a common type of English surname, . Shakelance (1275), Shakeshaft (1332). Shake (v.) in the sense of "to brandish or flourish (a weapon)" is attested from late Old English Heo scæken on heore honden speren swiðe stronge. [Laymon, "Brut," c. 1205] Cf. also shake-buckler "a swaggerer, a bully;" shake-rag "ragged fellow, tatterdemalion." "Never a name in English nomenclature so simple or so certain in origin. It is exactly what it looks -- Shakespear" [Bardsley, "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames," 1901]. Nevertheless, speculation flourishes. The name was variously written in contemporary records, also Shakespear , Shakespere , the last form being the one adopted by the New Shakespere Society of London and the first edition of the OED. Related: Shakespearian (1753); Shakesperean (1796); Shakesperian (1755).
Rowe was the first biographer to record the tradition, repeated by Johnson , that Shakespeare retired to Stratford "some years before his death".   He was still working as an actor in London in 1608; in an answer to the sharers' petition in 1635, Cuthbert Burbage stated that after purchasing the lease of the Blackfriars Theatre in 1608 from Henry Evans , the King's Men "placed men players" there, "which were Heminges , Condell , Shakespeare, etc.".  However, it is perhaps relevant that the bubonic plague raged in London throughout 1609.   The London public playhouses were repeatedly closed during extended outbreaks of the plague (a total of over 60 months closure between May 1603 and February 1610),  which meant there was often no acting work. Retirement from all work was uncommon at that time.  Shakespeare continued to visit London during the years 1611–1614.  In 1612, he was called as a witness in Bellott v. Mountjoy , a court case concerning the marriage settlement of Mountjoy's daughter, Mary.  In March 1613, he bought a gatehouse in the former Blackfriars priory;  and from November 1614, he was in London for several weeks with his son-in-law, John Hall .  After 1610, Shakespeare wrote fewer plays, and none are attributed to him after 1613.  His last three plays were collaborations, probably with John Fletcher ,  who succeeded him as the house playwright of the King's Men. 
The records we do have suggest that during young William's formative years he enjoyed the advantages that would have accrued to him as the son of one of the most influential citizens of a bustling market town in the fertile Midlands. When he was taken to services at Holy Trinity Church, he would have sat with his family in the front pew, in accordance with his father's civic rank. There he would have heard and felt the words and rhythms of the Bible, the sonorous phrases of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer, the exhortations of the Homilies. In all likelihood, after spending a year or two at a "petty school" to learn the rudiments of reading and writing, he would have proceeded, at the age of seven, to "grammar school." Given his father's social position, young William would have been eligible to attend the King's New School, located above the Guild Hall and adjacent to the Guild Chapel (institutions that would both have been quite familiar to a man with the elder Shakespeare's municipal duties), no more than a five-minute walk from the Shakespeare house on Henley Street. Though no records survive to tell us who attended the Stratford grammar school during this period, we do know that it had well-qualified and comparatively well-paid masters; and, through the painstaking research of such scholars as T. W. Baldwin, we now recognize that a curriculum such as the one offered at the King's New School would have equipped its pupils with what by modern standards would be a rather formidable classical education.