Nashe himself seldom mentioned his family, except to say casually in reply to an attack on his social standing that they "sprang from the Nashes of Herefordshire" and could "vaunt larger pedigrees than patrimonies" i.e. were well-bred but poor.
The little genealogical research that's been done seems to bear him out. No-one's yet found "the Nashes of Herefordshire", but no doubt they existed. Certainly Nashe's father was a respectable beneficed clergyman; his mother, Margaret, came from a Suffolk family called the Witchinghams. (She was actually William's second wife. Despite divorce being almost unknown, serial marriage was common as disease and childbirth took their toll of partners.)
William's first wife, also coincidentally called Margaret, gave birth to a baby in February 1562; by April her husband had remarried. It's easy to guess that "childbed fever" saw off Margaret #1 and her husband married Margaret #2 almost at once - not because he was heartless, but because he would urgently need a carer for his newborn baby daughter.
|Nashe had seven brothers and sisters in all but only he, his half-sister Mary and his brother Israel survived to adulthood. Between the ages of two and twelve Nashe saw three baby sisters die; and finally Rebeca, who at 10 had nearly passed out of the childhood danger zone, died when he was a university student of 17.
|Although Nashe went to university as a "sizar" student - one who got cheaper rates by fetching and carrying for others - and was always poor, he's never very defensive about his background. Certainly when his mother died in 1589 she left a will that indicates the Nashes, if not rich, were far from hard up. Just where the Witchinghams of Lowestoft came in the Elizabethan gentility stakes however is more of a moot point. To find out more about that, select here.