The Last Will & Testament of William Shakespeare
Preparation of the Last Will and Testament
On 25th March 1616, just a weeks before his death on 25th April 1616, Shakespeare made his last Will and Testament. There is no evidence to explain the cause of his death but it was clear, by his act of making a Will, that William Shakespeare was aware that he probably did not have very long to live. He must have arranged to see his attorney and made the following Last Will and Testament.
The Last Will and Testament of William Shakespeare
To his Daughter, Judith in his will
- He left £100 to his daughter Judith for a marriage portion and another £50 if she renounce any claim in the Chapel Lane cottage near New Place previously purchased by Shakespeare.
- He left another £150 to Judith if she lived another three years, but forbade her husband any claim to it unless he settled on her lands worth the £150.
- If Judith failed to live another three years, the £150 was to have gone to Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth Hall.
- He also left Judith a silver bowl
To his Sister, Joan in his will
- He left £30 to his sister Joan Hart
- He permitted her to stay on for a nominal rent in the Western of the two houses on Henley Street, which Shakespeare himself inherited from his father in 1601.
To his nephews in his will
- He left each of Joan's three sons £5.
To his granddaughter, Elizabeth in his will
- He left all his silver plate, except the silver bowl left to Judith, to his granddaughter Elizabeth.
To the Poor of Stratford in his will
- He left £10 to the poor of Stratford
To his Friends in his will
- He left his sword and various small bequests to local friends.
- His lifelong friend Hamnet Sadler was specifically mentioned to enable him to buy a memorial ring
- His friends, "my fellows John Hemynges Richard Burbage & Henry Cundell," were named leaving them 26s..8d to also "buy them Ringes."
To his Wife, Anne in his will
- The only mention that Shakespeare specifically makes of his wife was to leave her his "second best bed."
- It is, however, understood that it would have been her right, through English Common Law, to one-third of his estate as well as residence for life at New Place
To his Daughter, Susanna and Son-in-Law Dr, John Hall in his will
- "All the Rest of my Goods, Chattels, Leases, Plate, Jewels & Household stuff whatsoever after my debts and Legacies paid & my funeral expenses discarded" Williamís son-in-law, Dr. John Hall, oversaw his final days and treatment.