Internet Shakespeare Editions


The text of Shakespeare's will

The original document is preserved in the Principal Probate Registry at Somerset House. This transcription follows E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare, a Study of Facts and Problems, vol. 2. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930). 170-4.

During the winter of 1616, Shakespeare summoned his lawyer Francis Collins, who a decade earlier had drawn up the indentures for the Stratford tithes transaction, to execute his last will and testament. Apparently this event took place in January, for when Collins was called upon to revise the document some weeks later, he (or his clerk) inadvertently wrote January instead of March, copying the word from the earlier draft. Revisions were necessitated by the marriage of [his daughter] Judith.... The lawyer came on 25 March. A new first page was required, and numerous substitutions and additions in the second and third pages, although it is impossible to say how many changes were made in March and how many currente calamo, in January. Collins never got round to having a fair copy of the will made, probably because of haste occasioned by the seriousness of the testator's condition, though this attorney had a way of allowing much-corrected draft wills to stand
(Schoenbaum A Documentary Life 242-6).

Words which were lined-out in the original but which are
still legible are indicated by [brackets]. Words which were added
interlinearly are indicated by italic text. The word "Item" is given
in bold text to aid reading and is not so written in the

Vicesimo Quinto die [Januarij] Martij Anno Regni Domini nostri Jacobi nunc Regis Anglie &c decimo quarto & Scotie xlix Annoque domini 1616.

T Willelmj Shackspeare

In the name of god Amen I William Shackspeare, of Stratford vpon Avon in the
countie of Warr gent in perfect health & memorie God be praysed
doe make & Ordayne this my last will & testament in manner & forme
followeing That ys to saye ffirst, I Comend my Soule into the handes of
god my Creator, hoping & assuredlie beleeving through thonelie merittes
of Jesus Christe my Saviour to be made partaker of lyfe everlastinge and
my bodye to the earth whereof yt ys made. Item I Gyve and bequeath
vnto my [sonne and] daughter Judyth One Hundred and ffyftie poundes of
lawfull English money to be paied vnto her in manner & forme
foloweng, That ys to saye, One Hundred Poundes in discharge of her
marriage porcion
within one yeare after my deceas, with consideracion
after the Rate of twoe shillings in the pound for soe long tyme as the same
shalbe vnpaied vnto her after my deceas, & the ffyftie poundes Residwe
thereof vpon her Surrendring of, or gyving of such sufficient
securitie as the overseers of this my will shall like of to Surrender or
graunte, All her estate & Right that shall discend or come vnto her after
my deceas or that shee nowe hath of in or to one Copiehold
tenemente with thappurtenaunces lyeing and being in Stratford vpon Avon
aforesaied in the saied countie of Warr, being parcell or holden of the
mannour of Rowington, vnto my daughter Susanna Hall & her heires for
ever. Item I Gyve and bequeath vnto my saied daughter Judith One
Hundred and ffyftie Poundes more if shee or Anie issue of her bodie by
Lyvinge att thend of three Yeares next ensueing the daie of the date of
this my will, during which tyme my executours to paie her consideracion
from my deceas according to the Rate aforesaied. And if she dye within the
saied tearme without issue of her bodye then my will is & I doe gyve
& bequeath One Hundred Poundes thereof to my Neece Elizabeth Hall &
the ffiftie Poundes to be sett fourth by my executours during the lief of my
sister Johane Harte & the vse & proffitt thereof Cominge shalbe payed
to my saied Sister Jone, & after her deceas the saied shall
Remaine Amongst the children of my saied Sister Equallie to be divided
Amongst them. But if my saied daughter Judith be lyving att thend of the
saied three Yeares or anie yssue of her bodye then my will ys & soe I
devise & bequeath the saied Hundred & ffyftie poundes to be sett out
by my executours & overseers for the best benefitt of her & her
issue & the stock not to be paied vnto her soe long as she
shalbe marryed & covert Baron [by my executours and overseers] but my
will ys that she shall have the consideracion yearelie paied vnto her
during her lief and, after her deceas, the saied stock and consideracion
to bee paied to her children if she have Anie & if not to her
executours or assignes she lyving the saied terme after my deceas.
Provided that yf suche husbond as she shall att thend of the saied three
Years be marryed vnto, or attanie after doe sufficientlie Assure vnto her
& thissue of her bodie landes awnswereable to the porcion by this my will
gyven vnto her & to be adiudged soe by my executours & overseers then
my will ys that the said shalbe paied to such husbond as shall
make such assurance to his owne vse. Item I gyve & bequeath vnto
my saied sister Jone and all my wearing Apparrell to be paied &
deliuered within one yeare after my deceas, And I doe will & devise vnto
her the house with thappurtenaunces in Stratford, wherein she
dwelleth for her naturall lief vnder the yearlie Rent of xij.d.
Item I gyve and bequeath vnto her three sonnes,
Welliam Harte, ---- Hart & Michaell Harte, ffyve poundes a peece to be
payed within one Yeare after my deceas. [to be sett out for her within one
Yeare after my deceas by my executours with thadvise and direccions of my
overseers for her best profitt vntill her Mariage and then the same with
the increase thereof to be paied vnto her.] Item I gyve &
bequeath vnto [her] the saied Elizabeth Hall all my plate,
except my brod silver and gilt bole, that I now have att the date of
this my will. Item I gyve and bequeath vnto the Poore of Stratford
aforesaied tenn poundes, to Mr. Thomas Combe my Sword; to Thomas Russell
Esquier ffyve poundes, & to ffrauncis Collins of the Borough of Warr in
the countie of Warr gent thirteene poundes Sixe shillinges &
Eight pence to be paied within one Yeare after my deceas. Item I
gyve & bequeath to [Mr. Richard Tyler thelder] Hamlett Sadler
xxvj.8. viij.d. to buy him A Ringe; to William Raynoldes gent., xxvj.8.
viij.d. to buy him a ringe;
to my gogson William Walker xx8. in gold,
to Anthonye Nashe gent xxvj.8. viij.d. [in gold,] & to my ffellowes
John Hemynge Richard Brubage & Henry Cundell, xxvj.8. viij.d. a peece
to buy them Ringes,
Item I Gyve Will Bequeath & Devise,
vnto my daughter Susanna Hall, for better enabling of her to performe
this my will & towardes the performans thereof
All that capitall
Messuage or tenemente with thappurtenaunces in Stratford aforesaid
Called the newe place wherein I nowe dwell & twoe messuages or tenementes
with thappurtenaunces scituat lyeing & being in Henley streete within
the borough of Stratford aforesaied, And all my barnes stables orchardes
gardens landes tenementes & hereditamentes whatsoever scituat
lyeing & being or to be had Receyved perceyved or taken within the
townes Hamletes villages ffieldes & groundes of Stratford upon Avon
Oldstratford Bushopton and Welcombe or in anie of them in the saied
countie of Warr, And alsoe All that Messuage or tenemente with
thappurtenaunces wherein one John Robinson dwelleth scituat lyeing and
being in the balckfriers in London nere the Wardrobe, & all other my
landes tenementes and hereditamentes whatsoever; To Have and to hold All
& singuler the saied premisses with their Appurtenaunces vnto the
saied Susanna Hall for & during the terme of her naturall lief, &
after her Deceas to the first Sonne of her bodie lawfullie yssueing &
to the heires males of the bodie of the saied first sonne lawfullie
yssueinge, & for defalt of such issue to the second Sonne of her bodie
lawfullie issueing and so to the heires Males of the bodie of the saied
Second Sonne lawfullie yssueinge, & for defalt of such heires to the
third sonne of the bodie of the saied Susanna Lawfullie yssueing and of
the heires Males of the bodie of the saied third sonne lawfullie yssueing,
And for defalt of such issue the same soe to be and remaine to the ffourth
[sonne] ffyfth sixte & seaventh sonnes of her bodie lawfullie
issueing one after Another & to the heires
Willm Shakespere

[Page break on original manuscript]

Males of the bodies of the
bodies of the saied fourth fifth Sixte & Seaventh sonnes lawfullie
yssueing, in such manner as yt ys before Lymitted to be & Remaine to the
first second and third Sonns of her bodie & to their heires Males;
And for defalt of such issue the said premisses to be & Remaine to my
sayed Neece Hall & the heires males of her bodie Lawfullie yssueinge,
and for defalt of such issue to my daughter Judith and the heires Males
of her bodie lawfullie yssueinge, and for defalt of such issue to the
Right heires of me the saied William Shackspare for ever. Item
I gyve vnto my wief my second best bed with the furniture,
I gyve & bequeath to my saied daughter Judith my broad silver gilt bole.
All the Rest of my goodes chattels leases plate jewels & household
stuffe whatsoever, after my dettes and Legasies paied and my funerall
expences dischardged, I give devise and bequeath to my Sonne in Lawe,
John Hall gent & my daughter Susanna his wief whom I ordaine & make
executours of this my Last will and testament. And I doe intreat &
Appoint the saied Thomas Russell Esquier & ffrauncis Collins gent
to be overseers hereof. And doe Revoke All former wills & publishe this
to be my last will and testament. In witnesse whereof I have hereunto put my
[seale] hand, the daie & Yeare first above Written. witnes to the publyshing by me William Shakeseare
hereof. Fra: Collyns
Julyus Shawe
John Robinson
Hamnet Sadler
Rovert Whattcott