March 1616, Shakespeare executed his will, a lengthy document (now in Somerset House) on
three sheets of parchment, each of which he signed. As it gives a clear picture of his
family relationship, it is worth reprinting in full:
In the name of God, Amen.
I William Shakespeare, of Stratford upon Avon in the county of Warr., 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 tife everlasting, and my body to the earth whereof it is
Item, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Judith one hundred and fifty
pounds of lawful English money, to be paid unto her in the 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
copy-hold tenement, with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford upon Avon
aforesaid in the said county of Warr., being parcel or holden of the manor of Rowington,
unto my daughter Susanna Hall 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 be 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 the 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 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 over-seers for the best benefit of her and her issue, and the
stock not to 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 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 of 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 assurance, to his own use.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my said sister Joan £20 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 12d.
Item, I give and bequeath unto her three sons, William Hart, - Hart and
Michael Hart, five pounds apiece, to be paid within one year after my decease.
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 will.
Item, I give and bequeath unto the poor of Stratford aforesaid ten
pounds; to Mr Thomas Combe my sword; to Thomas Russel, esquire, five pounds; and to
Francis Collins, of the borough of Warr., in the county of Warr., gent., thirteen pounds,
six shillings, and eight pence, to be paid within one year after my decease.
Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet Sadler xxvis. viiid. to buy him a
ring; to William Reynolds, gent., xxvis. viiid. to buy him a ring; to my godson William
Walker xxs. in gold; to Anthony Nash, gent., xxvis. viiid. ; and the Mr John Nash xxvis,
viiid.; and to my fellows John Heminge, Richard Burbage, and Henry Condell, xxvis. viiid.
apiece 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 tenements 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 le borough of Stratford
aforesaid; and all my barns, stables, orchards, gardens, lands, tenements, and
hereditaments whatsoever, situate, lying and being or to be had, received, perceived, or
taken, within the towns, hamlets, villages, fields, and grounds of Stratford upon Avon,
Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe, or in any of them in the said county of Warr. 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 my other lands, tenements and hereditaments whatsoever, to have and to hold all and
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 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 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 fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons of her body issuing
one after another and the heirs males of the bodies of the said fourth, 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; and for default of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and
the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing ; and for default of such issue, to the right
heirs of me the said William Shakespeare for ever.
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, chattels, leases, plate, jewels, and household stuff whatsoever, after my debts
and legacies paid, and my funeral 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 appoirlt the caid 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 thereof I have hereunto put my hand, the day and year
first above written.
By me William Shakespeare.
On 23 April 1616, according to the inscription on the memorial in Stratford church,
Shakespeare died, and on 25 April the burial of William Shakespeare Gentleman, is recorded
in the Stratford Parish register.