Wills from way back! Shakespeare & Bacon (Post No.9556)


Post No. 9556

Date uploaded in London – –2 May   2021           

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One million probate records went on line on seventh of January 2014. Many interesting details about the wills left by famous people emerged from those records.

Shakespeare famously and curiously left his second best bed to his wife while Jane Austen allocated £51000(in today’s money) to her much loved dearest sister Cassandra- but only a paltry £3600 to brother Henry.

One million such records are available to download from the website of the National Archives for a fee. They are in ancestry.co.uk

The Probate span five centuries from 1384 to 1858, for those who left amounts greater than £5,which by the nineteenth century was roughly the same as £530 today.

Among the finest benefactors was the explorer Sir Francis drake who left £40,£15000 in today’s money, to the ‘poore people of Plymouth’ when he died in 1596.

George Frederic Handel, the German born composer left £600 to build a monument of himself in Westminster Abbey. That is about £90,000 in today’s money.

William Shakespeare bequeathed £150 to both his daughters, (more than £380000 today) and gave his wife the pleasure of his ‘second best bed’.

William Pitt, The Elder, the acclaimed politician left £3500 to his son William and £1750 to his son James Charles and £1750 to his daughter Lady Harriet £ one million today.

Jane Austen, the author left £700 of her 800 estate to her sister Cassandra. Her brother Henry inherited 50 £(£3600 today) and £50 was given to Madame Bigoen, who acted as a nurse to her family.

Sir Francis Bacon, the philosopher, scientist and author left a lot of money to his staff. He gave servant Robert Halpeny the equivalent of £800,000, provisions of hay, firewood and timber. Fellow worker Stephen Paise was given £700,000 and a bed.


Tags — wills, Shakespeare, Bacon, Jane Austen, Handel