One of the two signatures on Shakespeare's will.

Much to his biographers' dismay, Shakespeare's will is a standard legal document rather than a poetic farewell. The will was drafted in January 1616 (probably), written on three sheets of paper with several revisions, and signed on March 25.

Provisions of the will

Shakespeare left the bulk of his estate to his eldest daughter, Susanna, including his real estate holdings in Stratford and London. The will was amended in respect to his younger daughter Judith's* inheritance, possibly because of her recent marriage. He left her £300 and a silver gilt bowl.

On 10 February 1616, Judith married Thomas Quiney. The marriage got off to a bad start--the couple married during Lent without the required special licence, and both were subsequently excommunicated. In March, Quiney was fined five shillings for fornication and confessed to fathering the illegitimate child of another woman.

We can only imagine how Shakespeare must have felt about his new son-in-law, but we do know that he changed his will soon after the wedding in order to secure Judith's inheritance in her own name.

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Shakespeare also provided for his granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall, as well as his sister Joan and her sons. He donated 10 pounds to the poor of Stratford, a generous sum in those days.

To his fellows, John Heminge, Richard Burbage and Henry Condell, he left 28 shillings and 6 pence to buy memorial rings.

Footnotes

  1. Judith

    On 10 February 1616, Judith married Thomas Quiney. The marriage got off to a bad start--the couple married during Lent without the required special licence, and both were subsequently excommunicated. In March, Quiney was fined five shillings for fornication and confessed to fathering the illegitimate child of another woman.

    We can only imagine how Shakespeare must have felt about his new son-in-law, but we do know that he changed his will soon after the wedding in order to secure Judith's inheritance in her own name.