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Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616.
March 25,
1616

PROB 1/4 (1)

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The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

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Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
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Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (1), signature detail

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PROB 1/4 (1), signature detail
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (1 verso)

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PROB 1/4 (1 verso)
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Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (2)

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William Shakespeare's last will and testament, leaf 2
PROB 1/4 (2)
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Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (2), signature detail

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PROB 1/4 (2), signature detail
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (2 verso)

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PROB 1/4 (2 verso)
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Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (3)

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PROB 1/4 (3)
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Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (3), signature detail

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William Shakespeare's last will and testament, leaf 3 signature detail
PROB 1/4 (3), signature detail
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Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (3), witnesses detail

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PROB 1/4 (3), witnesses detail
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Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (3), second best bed detail

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PROB 1/4 (3), second best bed detail
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4 (3 verso)

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PROB 1/4 (3 verso)
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

PROB 1/4, verso

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PROB 1/4, verso
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 
Item Creator
Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Item Title
Will of William Shakespeare 25 March 1616. Proved 22 June 1616.
Item Date
March 25, 1616
Repository
The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call Number
PROB 1/4

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

Images reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England.

Terms of use
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.  Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225   Fax: 020 8392 5266.

Document-specific information
Creator: Francis Collins, esq. et al.; William Shakespeare; the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Title: Shakespeare's last will and testament: made 25 March 1616, proved 22 June 1616
Date: March 25, 1616
Repository: The National Archives, Kew, UK
Call number and opening: PROB 1/4
View online bibliographic record

 

William Shakespeare’s last will and testament provides one of the richest surviving documents for understanding his familial and professional networks. The will names many of the important people in his life, including family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, as well as describing specific pieces of personal property. The handwriting does not match that of Shakespeare’s lawyer, Francis Collins, suggesting that the will was drawn up by a clerk. The document is written on three sheets of paper, with William Shakespeare’s signature appended to each sheet, as prescribed in contemporary manuals.

Most individuals in early modern England did not begin writing a will until death was imminent. Many scholars believe that when Shakespeare sent for Francis Collins (who had also drawn up the deeds of bargain and sale for the Blackfriars gatehouse) to draft his will, he was almost certainly ill, although he did not die for another several months. The signatures are written in shaky strokes of the pen, suggestive of someone who had trouble holding a writing implement due to illness.

Scholars have suggested that the will was drafted in January, then revised and partially redrafted on March 25 to reflect the change in the marital status of his daughter Judith. She married Thomas Quiney just over a month earlier, on February 10. At the top of the first leaf January is crossed out and replaced with March. On the same leaf, a reference to Shakespeare's son-in-law is altered to his daughter, Judith. On the second leaf a section making provisions for Judith "vntill her marriage" is deleted. Thus it is thought that the first leaf was entirely rewritten and then revised, and that the second and third leaves were merely revised.

The preamble of the will and the itemization of bequests are very formulaic. Shakespeare left the bulk of his property to his two daughters: Susanna Hall, his first child, and Judith Quiney. He left money and clothes to his sister Joan Hart and her three sons (the name of the third son, Thomas, is left blank), and plate to his grand-daughter Elizabeth Hall, whom he refers to as his niece. The will also makes bequests of his various properties: New Place; the house on Henley Street in which he was born; the tithes purchased in 1605; the Combe property; the cottage near New Place; and the Blackfriars gatehouse in London. His monetary bequests add up to roughly £350. The only specific objects he bequeaths are a large silver gilt bowl to his daughter Judith; a sword to Thomas Combe, the nephew of his friend John; his clothing to his sister Joan; and his second best bed to his wife. Shakespeare left a gift of £10 to the poor of Stratford, as well as bequests to his overseer, Thomas Russell, and his lawyer, Francis Collins. He left 26 shillings and 8 pence each to his theatrical fellows Richard Burbage, John Heminges, and Henry Condell, as well as to Hamnet Sadler, William Reynolds, and Anthony and John Nash, to buy mourning rings.

Scholars have tended to focus on five main issues in the will. It has often been noted that Shakespeare's only mention of his wife Anne Hathaway reads as an afterthought: an interlineal insertion on the last leaf, where he bequeaths her the "second best bed with the furniture" (valance, hangings, linen, etc.) While this has been read as a slight to Anne, the language was not entirely unusual. As Lena Cowen Orlin demonstrates in forthcoming work, "best," "second-best," and "worst" were all common descriptors in contemporary wills, used to identify objects rather than to signify sentiment. The second best bed bequest should not be seen as a window into William and Anne’s marriage, but as a way to distinguish one bed from another so that his wife received the right bed. (On the other hand, it is noteworthy if not downright odd that Shakespeare’s wife is mentioned nowhere else in his will than in this interlineation.)

Shakespeare’s bequest of all of his clothing to his sister Joan has been noted as unusual, given that they were men's clothing. The clothing was probably given to her to sell, or intended for her husband, William Hart. As matters passed, however, William Hart died a week before Shakespeare.

The wording of his revised bequest to Judith is thought to have protected her as a prospective widow to account for her new marital status. However, Shakespeare also provides his new son-in-law with an incentive--if Quiney accumulated property, Shakespeare would match it. Shakespeare may have been wary of Quiney, who, on the day following the will's date, was fined five shillings by the ecclesiastical court in Stratford-upon-Avon for fornication.

Another interlinear insertion, Shakespeare’s bequest to Richard Burbage, John Heminges, and Henry Condell, three of the King’s Men, confirms his association with members of his playing company to the last days of his life. The fact that he calls them “my ffellowes” may suggest that he still considered himself a King’s Man.

Shakespeare’s three signatures are all slightly different from one another. Further, the signature on the first leaf is almost entirely worn away. However, if we assume that Shakespeare was ill at the time of signing, and that he was being asked to sign his name at the very bottom of two sheets of paper and halfway down another sheet – not to mention that, if bedridden, he would be writing at an awkward angle from an awkward position – the fact that the signatures are shaky and variously formed is not remarkable. His other three surviving signatures show similar slight inconsistencies, suggesting that (like some other literate men) Shakespeare was given to variation rather than mechanical repetition when signing his name.

The will is attested at the end by Shakespeare’s lawyer, Francis Collins, as well as four friends: Julius Shawe, John Robinson, Hamnet Sadler, and Robert Whattcote. The executors were his daughter, Susanna Hall, and her husband, John Hall. The overseers were Francis Collins and Thomas Russell (the stepfather of Leonard Digges).

The original will shown here, the entry of probate, and the registered copy survive. The probate clause in Latin at the end of the third leaf indicates that John Hall, Shakespeare's son-in-law and co-executor, made an oath to administer the estate on behalf of himself and his wife Susanna, on June 22. Other associated documents, such as an inventory of his goods, do not survive and were presumably lost with other Prerogative Court inventories for this date in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Another copy of the will survives at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The pin-hole marks at the top of each leaf of the will are where the three sheets were formerly attached by pins, a narrow strip of parchment, or string. 

The will has undergone a series of conservation treatments. According to a 1913 report of the Royal Commision on Public Records, by the 1850s the document had suffered handling damage and was repaired with transparent paper, possibly pelure d’oignon. Then each leaf was set between two sheets of glass in separate locked oaken frames, which were stored in a locked oaken box in the strong room at Somerset House. At the time of the 1913 report, visitors were permitted to view Shakespeare's will and Lord Nelson's will in the strong room for "the usual charge of one shilling." At some point after 1913, the will was repaired again and lined with silk. From 1996-99, the silk lining and old repairs were removed, and small tears on the edges were fixed. All three leaves were lined with Greenwich repair paper and wheat starch adhesive. They were encapsulated and sewn into a fully bound, reverse calf, parchment binding. The binding was stored in a green buckram slipcase with gold tooling. In 1999, the document, binding, and slipcase were stored in a grey folding boxboard box. In 2015-16, it has undergone further conservation: the lining has been removed and multi-spectral imaging has taken place. 

The original copy of the will was first noted by George Vertue in 1737 (Schoenbaum, p. 242, which cites British Library, MS Portland Loan 29/246, p. 19) and first printed in the third edition of Lewis Theobald's Works of Shakespeare (1752). It was kept in the Prerogative Office, first at Doctors' Commons, and then, when the building was torn down in 1861, at the new Prerogative Office at Somerset House, until being transferred in 1962 to the Public Records Office on Chancery Lane. Since 2003 it has been maintained by the successor to the Public Records Office, The National Archives in Kew.
 

Modernized/Translated transcription

March 25, in the 14th year of the reign of James now king of England and the 49th year of Scotland, 1616

William Shakespeare

In the name of god, Amen. I, William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon in the county of Warwick, gent., in perfect health and memory, God be praised, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say, first I commend my soul into the hands of God my creator, hoping and assuredly believing through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour to be made partaker of life everlasting, and my body to the earth whereof it is made.

Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds of lawful English money to be paid unto her in manner and form following, that is to say, one hundred pounds in discharge of her marriage portion within one year after my decease, with consideration after the rate of two shillings in the pound, for so long time as the same shall be unpaid unto her after my decease, and the fifty pounds residue thereof upon her surrendering of, or giving of, such sufficient security as the overseers of this my will shall like of to surrender or grant all her estate and right that shall descend or come unto her after my decease or that she now hath of in or to one Copyhold tenement with the appertenances lying and being in Stratford upon Avon aforesaid in the said county of Warwick, being parcel or holden of the manor of Rowington unto my daughter Susanna Hall and and her heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds more if she or any issue of her body living at the end of three years next ensuing the day of the date of this my will, during which time my executors to pay her consideration from my decease according to the rate aforesaid.

And if she die within the said term without issue of her body then my will is and I do give and bequeath one hundred pounds thereof to my niece Elizabeth Hall, and fifty pounds to be set forth by my executors during the life of my sister Joan Hart and the use and profit thereof coming shall be paid to my said sister Joan, and after her decease the said 50 pounds shall remain amongst the children of my said sister equally to be divided amongst them.

But if my said daughter Judith be living at the end of the said three years, or any issue of her body, then my will is, and so I devise and bequeath the said hundred and fifty pounds to be set out by my executors and overseers for the best benefit of her and her issue, and the stock not to be paid unto her so long as she shall be married and covert baron but my will is that she shall have the consideration yearly paid unto her during her life and after her decease the said stock and consideration to be paid to her children if she have any and if not to her executors or assigns, she living the said term after my decease, provided that if such husband as she shall at the end of the said three years be married unto or attain after, do sufficiently assure unto her and the issue of her body, lands answerable to the portion by this my will given unto her, and to be adjudged so by my executors and overseers then my will is that the said £150 shall be paid to such husband as shall make such assurance to his own use.

Item I give and bequeath unto my said sister Joan 20 pounds and all my wearing apparel to be paid and delivered within one year after my decease. And I do will and devise unto her the house with the appurtenances in Stratford wherein she dwelleth for her natural life under the yearly rent of 12 pence.

Item I give and bequeath unto her three sons William Hart [name omitted] Hart and Michael Hart five pounds a piece to be paid within one year after my decease unto her.

Item I give and bequeath unto the said Elizabeth Hall all my plate (except my broad silver and gilt bowl) that I now have at the date of this my will.

Item I give and bequeath unto the poor of Stratford aforesaid ten pounds; to Mr Thomas Combe, my sword; to Thomas Russell, Esquire, five pounds; and to Francis Collins of the borough of Warwick in the county of Warwick, gent., thirteen pounds, six shillings, and eight pence, to be paid within one year after my decease.

Item I give and bequeath to Hamlett Sadler 26s 8d to buy him a ring; to William Reynolds, gent., 26s 8d to buy him a ring; to my godson William Walker 20s in gold; to Anthony Nash, gent., 26s 8d; to Mr. John Nash, 26s 8d; and to my fellows John Heminge, Richard Burbage, and Henry Condell 26s 8d a piece to buy them rings.

Item I give, will, bequeath, and devise unto my daughter Susanna Hall, for better enabling of her to perform this my will and towards the performance thereof:

All that capital messuage or tenement with the appurtenances in Stratford aforesaid called the New Place, wherein I now dwell, and two messuages or tenements with the appurtenances situate, lying and being in Henley Street within the borough of Stratford aforesaid.

And all my barns, stables, orchards, gardens, lands, tenements, and herediments whatsoever, situate, lying, and being, or to be had, received, perceived, or taken within the towns and hamlets, villages, fields, and grounds of Stratford upon Avon, Old Stratford, Bushopton, and Welcombe, or in any of them in the said county of Warwick.

And also all that messuage or tenement with the appurtenances wherein one John Robinson dwelleth, situate, lying and being in the Blackfriars in London near the Wardrobe, and all other my lands, tenements and hereditaments whatsoever.

To have and to hold all & singular the said premises with their appurtenances unto the said Susanna Hall for and during the term of her natural life and after her decease to the first son of her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the said first son lawfully issuing and for default of such issue to the second son of her body lawfully issuing and to the heirs males of the body of the said second son lawfully issuing and for default of such heirs to the third son of the body of the said Susanna lawfully issuing and of the heirs males of the body of the said third son lawfully issuing. And for default of such issue the same so to be and remain to the forth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons of her body lawfully issuing, one after another, and to the heirs males of the bodies of the said forth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons lawfully issuing in such manner as it is before limited to be and remain to the first, second and third sons of her body and to their heirs males. And for default of such issue the said premises to be and remain to my said Niece Hall and the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing for def[ault of]...[damaged]...such iss[u]e to my daughter Judith & the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing. And for default of such issue to the right heirs of me the said William Shakespeare forever.

Item I give unto my wife my second best bed with the furniture.

Item I give and bequeath to my said daughter Judith my broad silver gilt bowl.

All the rest of my goods, chattel, leases, plate, jewels, and household stuff whatsoever, after my debts and legacies paid and my funerall expenses discharged, I give, devise, and bequeath to my son in law John Hall, gent., and my daughter Susanna, his wife, whom I ordain and make executors of this my last will and testament.

And I do entreat and appoint the said Thomas Russell, Esquire, and Francis Collins, gent., to be overseers hereof. And do revoke all former wills and publish this to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand the day and year first above written.

By me William Shakspeare (signed)

Witness to the publishing hereof

Francis Collins

Julius Shawe

John Robinson

Hamnet Sadler

Robert Whattcott

Probatum coram Magistro Willielmo Byrde

legum doctore Commissario etc. xxijd die

mensis Junij Anno domini 1616 Juramento

Johannis Hall unius executorum etc. Cui etc.

de bene etc. Jurati Reservata potestate

etc. Sussanne Hall alteri executorum etc. cum

venerit etc petitur

To learn more, read Alan H. Nelson's essays on wills and the use of "Fellow" as a title in Shakespeare's England.

 

Co-written by Folger Shakespeare Library staff and Alan H. Nelson

Sources

The National Archives, conservation database

Lena Cowen Orlin, personal communication

Samuel Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: a Documentary Life. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975).

Royal Commission of Public Records. Appendices to the Report of the Royal Commission on Public Records Appointed to Inquire Into and Report on the State of the Public Records and Local Records of a Public Nature of England and Wales. Volume II. Part II. p137) November 1913 (for conservation treatment in the 1850s and c. 1913) (provide link to Hathi Trust volume instead?)