4. His Family
Christopher Marlowe was the second of nine children born to John and Katherine Marlowe between 1562 and 1576. At the age of 4, his elder sister Mary died leaving Christopher as the eldest surviving child. Within two months of Mary's death, a brother whose name is not recorded died just days after being baptised. Another brother, Thomas, who was born two years later in 1570, survived just two weeks. The Marlowes' only other son was their last recorded child, baptised in April 1576. There is no record of this second Thomas' death, either in infancy or later in life, but he was not mentioned in his mother's will of 1605.
Marlowe's early years in their house on the corner of St. George's Lane would thus have found him surrounded solely by his sisters. Both Margaret (18 months his junior) and Anne (7 years younger) would go on to enjoy very long lives (living to 76 and 81 respectively), whilst his youngest sister Dorothy at least outlived her first husband, who died when she was 52. Interestingly, Anne's wedding to John Cranford took place on 10 June 1593, just 11 days after her brother's alleged murder in Deptford. Christopher's other sister Jane (5½ years younger) was married at the age of just 12, and even more shockingly to modern sensibilities, appears to have died in child-birth the following year.
All of Marlowe's siblings were born by the time he departed for Cambridge University in December 1580. He was twelve when his only surviving brother was born, and it seems unlikely that the two boys can have been that close, for the second Thomas would have been just 4 when his older brother took up residence at Corpus Christi College.