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FROM THE ORIGINAL IN THE OFFICE OF THE PREROGATIVE COURT
Vicesimo quinto die Martii, Anno Regni Domini nostri Jacobi nunc Regis Anglia, fc. decimo quarto, et Scotia quadragesimo
Anno Domini 1616.
In the name of God, Amen. I, William Shakspeare, of Stratford upon Avon, in the county of Warwick, 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 Savior, 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 dred and fifty pounds of lawful English money, to be paid unto her in 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 copyhold tenement, with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford upon Avon aforesaid, in the said county of Warwick, 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 thereof coming, shall be paid to my said sister Joan, and after her decease the said fifty pounds 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; 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 be paid to her children, if she have any, and if not, to her executors and 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 sufficiently assure unto 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 hundred and fifty pounds shall be paid to such husband as shall make such assurance, to his own use.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my said sister Joan twenty pounds, and all my wearing apparel, to be paid and delivered within one year
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 twelve pence. Item, I give and bequeath unto her three sons, William Hart,
llart, and Michael IIart, 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 Russel, esq., five pounds; and to Francis Collins, of the borough of Warwick, in the county of Warwick, gent., thirteen pounds six shillings and eight pence; to be paid within one year after my decease.
Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet [Hamnet] Sadler twenty-six shillings eight pence, to buy him a ring; to William Reynolds, gent., twenty-six shillings eight pence, to buy him a ring; to my godson William Walker, twenty shillings in gold ; to Anthony Nash, gent., twenty-six shillings eight pence; and to Mr. John Nash, twenty-six shillings eight pence; and to my fellows, John Hemynge, Richard Burbage, and Henry Cundell, twenty-six shillings eight pence 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 Bishopton, 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 other my 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 said 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 said second son lawfully issuing; and for default of such heirs, to the third son of the body of the said Susanna lawfully issuing, and to 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, lawfully issuing one after another, and to 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 Shakspeare forever
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, esq., 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 whereof I have hereụnto put my hand, the day and year first above written.
By me WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.
Witness to the publishing hereof,
Probatum fuit testamentum suprascriptum apud London, coram Magistro William Byrde, Legum Doctore, fc. vicesimo secundo die mensis Junii, Anno Domini 1616; juramento Johannis Hall unius er. cui, fc. de bene, foc. jurat. reservata potestate, fc. Susanne Hall, alt. er. fc. eam cum venerit, fc. petitur, fc.
To the great Variety of Readers,
From the most able, to him that can but spell : there you are number'd.
We had rather you were weigh’d. Especially, when the fate of all Bookes depends upon your capacities: and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. Well! it is now publique, and you wil stand for your priviledges wee know: to read, and censure. Do so, but buy it first. That doth best commend a Booke, the Stationer saies. Then, how odde soever your braines be, or your wisedomes, make your licence the same, and spare not. Judge your sixe-pen'orth, your shillings worth, your five shillings worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the just rates, and welcome. But, whatever you do, Buy. Censure will not drive a Trade, or make the Jacke go. And though you be a Magistrate of wit, and sit on the Stage at Black-Friers, or the Cockpit, to arraigne Playes dailie, know, these Playes have had their triall alreadie, and stood out all Appeales; and do now come forth quitted rather by a Decree of Court, than any purchas'd Letters of commendation.
It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to have bene wished, that the Author himselfe had lived to have set forth, and overseen his owne writings ; But since it hath