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Settlement of Shakespeare's estate
October 2,
1652

DR232/2, photocopy

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DR232/2, photocopy
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has graciously contributed images under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 4.0 International license.  Visitors may download, link to and cite the images for personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the images, commercial or third party use, is strictly prohibited. Visitors must contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to request additional use, at: images.scla@shakespeare.org.uk

Document-specific information
Title:  Settlement of Shakespeare's estate
Date: October 2, 1652
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: previously filed under DR232/2

Item Title
Settlement of Shakespeare's estate
Item Date
October 2, 1652
Repository
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call Number
DR232/2

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Reproduced by permission of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Terms of use
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has graciously contributed images under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 4.0 International license.  Visitors may download, link to and cite the images for personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the images, commercial or third party use, is strictly prohibited. Visitors must contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to request additional use, at: images.scla@shakespeare.org.uk

Document-specific information
Title:  Settlement of Shakespeare's estate
Date: October 2, 1652
Repository: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Call number and opening: previously filed under DR232/2

Following the death of her first husband, Thomas Nash in 1647, Elizabeth Hall Nash, Shakespeare’s granddaughter, married John Barnard of Abington, near Northampton, on June 5, 1649. A month later, her mother Susanna also died. Doubts on the future of the Shakespeare family estates had already arisen under the terms of her first husband’s will, which had led to the drawing up of a new settlement to protect her interests, followed by a legal action which had still not been resolved. Elizabeth therefore felt it advisable to draw up a new settlement to take her new circumstances into account.

By a fine of 1650, her second husband, John Barnard, was appointed one of the trustees of the 1647 settlement and then, on October 2, 1652, a new settlement was drawn up, shown here. This ensured that the family estates (now limited to New Place, and four and a half yardlands in Old Stratford, Bishopton and Welcombe, described as “heretofore The inheritance of William Shakespeare, gentleman, grandfather of the said Elizabeth wife of the said John Barnard,” should be held by trustees, Henry Smith and William Fetherston, to the use of John Barnard and his wife Elizabeth for their lives. After their deaths the estates were to revert to any children Elizabeth might bear (though she was already forty-four) or in default “to the use of such person or persons … as the said Elizabeth by any writeing either purporteing her last will or otherwise ... shall lymitt and appoint.” This was a significant variation in the terms of the entail under Shakespeare’s will, which had limited the descent of his property by primogeniture to the descendants of his children, or in ultimate default, to his “right heirs.” If Elizabeth’s died without issue, Shakespeare’s “right heirs” could have been taken to be the descendants of his sister Joan Hart. On the other hand, the fact that the old family homestead in Henley Street, now partly occupied by the Hart family, was excluded from the settled estates suggests that Elizabeth already had it in mind to leave it to them – as by her will she eventually did. The settlement was further buttressed by a deed poll under Elizabeth Barnard’s hand of April 16, 1653.

The settlement survives in two copies and both were originally filed with the title deeds relating to the family estates. The copy signed by the trustees is still preserved amongst title deeds relating to the estate but the other copy signed by “John Barnard” and “Eliza. Barnard” was acquired by J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps, who published it in 1883 as A Facsimile of an Indenture Executed by Sir John and Lady Barnard in October, 1652. It later came into the possession of the Earls of Warwick and was deposited at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1970 (and catalogued as DR 232/2). In 1997 it was withdrawn for sale at Sotheby’s and its current location is unknown but shown here is a photographic copy made when the document was on display at Warwick Castle.  

Written by Robert Bearman

Last updated July 11, 2016