William Shakespeare's 1616 will

1. Introduction

Photostats of the original can be downloaded free of charge from the National Archives. I could not decipher it, however much magnified, so I have relied on the Shakespeare Resource Center’s transcript.

To make it easier to read and understand I have separated the text into paragraphs and sub-paragraphs, indented the sub-paragraphs, modernised some of the spelling and punctuation, and added a few notes in [this format].

2. The text

Vicesimo Quinto die Martii Anno Regni Domini nostri Jacobi nucn Regis Angliae etc decimo quarto & Scotie xlixo Annoque Domini 1616

[As far as I can tell with the help of the internet, this means:
The twenty-fifth day of March 1616, in the fourteenth year of the reign of our Lord and King James of England and Scotland.
But “nucn” and “xlixo” (perhaps miscopyings, the second something to do with 49?), and the correct position of “etc”, all defeat me.]

Testamentum
Willemi Shackspeare

In the name of God, Amen.

I William Shackspeare, of Stratford upon Avon in the county of Warwick, gent. [gentleman], 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 thonelie [the unique] 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 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 [interest] after the rate of two shillings in the pound [10%] 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, such sufficient security as the overseers of this my will shall desire, to surrender or grant all her estate and right that shall descend or come unto her after my decease, or that she now has, of, in, or to, one copyhold tenement with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford upon Avon aforesaid in the said county of Warwick, being parcel or held from the manor of Rowington, unto my daughter Susanna Hall and her heirs for ever.  
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 are to pay her consideration from my decease according to the rate aforesaid; and
[* The 4-page entry on "issue" (in the sense of "offspring") in the 4th (1973) edition of Stroud's Judicial Dictionary cites more than 100 cases spanning several centuries and begins:
This is a word of flexible meaning —
(a) Its legal meaning is "DESCENDANTS" in infinitum …

(b) Its popular meaning is "CHILDREN" …; and (like "heirs" …) it may be used in different clauses of the same instrument in different senses….]
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 Johane Harte, and the use and profit thereof coming shall be paid to my said sister Jone, and after her decease the said l.li. [£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 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 [under the protection of a husband]; but *
[* This paragraph and the following three protect his daughter and her children from the rule that a married woman’s property belonged not to her but to her husband, to do with as he liked. The rule remained in force until abolished by the Married Women's Property Act 1882.]
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 at any [time] after, do sufficienty assure unto [secure for?] 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 cl.li. [£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 Jone xx.li. [£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 xii.d [one shilling]

Item: I give and bequeath unto her three sons, William Harte, ---- Hart, and Michael Harte, 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 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, gentleman, thirteen pounds, six shillings, and eight pence [that is, precisely 2/3rd of £20],
   to be paid within one year after my decease.

   Item: I give and bequeath:
to Hamlett Sadler 26s 8d [£1.33] to buy him a ring;

to William Raynoldes gent., 26s 8d to buy him a ring;

to my godson William Walker 28 shillings in gold;

to Anthony Nashe gent. 26s 8d;

and to my fellows John Hemynges, Richard Brubage, and Henry Cundell, 26s 8d 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 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 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, 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 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 male 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 male of the body of the said second son lawfully issuing; and

for defalt of such heirs, to the third son of the body of the said Susanna lawfully issuing, and of the heirs male 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 lawfully issuing, one after another, and to the heirs male 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 male; and
for default of such issue, the said premises to be and remain to my said niece Hall, and the heirs male of her body lawfully issuing; and

for default of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and the heirs male of her body lawfully issuing; and

for default of such issue, to the heirs of me the said William Shackspeare 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 appoint the said Thomas Russell esquire and Frauncis Collins gent. to be overseers ** hereof, and do revoke all former wills, and publish this to be my last will and testament.
[** Overseers of a will seem to have been something like but not the same as executors but I had not heard of them before and have not been able to find how they differed from executors.]
In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand, the day and year first above written.

Witness to the publishing hereof:

Fra: Collyns 
Julyus Shawe
John Robinson
Hamnet Sadler
Rovert Whattcott



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