William Shakespeare died on the 23 April 1616. He was a man of considerable means and in possession of substantial property. His ‘last will & testament’ was drawn up by the local lawyer Francis Collins, using legal language typical of the period. The will lays out the bequests Shakespeare intended for his friends and immediate relatives.
This will dates from January 1616 with revisions made on 25 March of the same year. New research conducted by The National Archives suggests certain elements may date from 1613, following Shakespeare’s purchase of the Blackfriars Gatehouse.
Shakespeare signed the will three times, at the bottom of pages one and two and more elaborately on the final page ‘By me William Shakspeare’. In all only six examples of his signature survive.
This transcript of the will reveals how the document evolved over time, drawing attention to additions, omissions and notable beneficiaries.