There would therefore have been all the more delight at the birth of the first son William within less than a year of Margaret's death, tinged with more than a little anxiety, in view of the fateful words, 'here began plague', in the burial part of the register three months later. Just how close this dread flea-borne disease was to the Shakespeares can be guaged from the fact that their Henley Street neighbour Roger Green lost four of his children and town clerk Richard Symons three. One estimate suggests that the town lost around two hundred, or about fifteen per cent, of its population during this single outbreak. It is a sobering thought how much the world could have lost at this time by one ill-chanced flea-bite.
Quite possibly one of the most revealing passages about Shakespeare as a man comes from one of the roughest of the jottings made by gossip John Aubrey from his interview with William Beeston, son of the Christopher Beeston who had acted with Shakespeare's company. The partly cancelled note reads: 'the more to be admired, he was not a company keeper. [He].. Wouldn't be debauched, and if invited to, writ [i.e. Wrote] he was in pain.' [Ch.24]