Wills of famous set to go online

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THE wills of more than a million people, including William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Sir Francis Drake, are being published online for the first time.

The most comprehensive collection of its kind, covering 1384 to 1858, details assets, occupation and the standard of living of the dead. William Shakespeare left £150 to both his daughters in 1616, Jane Austen left most of her £800 assets to her sister, while Sir Francis Drake left £40 to the “poor people” of Plymouth.

Miriam Silverman of Ancestry.co.uk, which is publishing the collection, said: “These probate records provide fascinating insight into the final fortunes of some of our nation’s most famous names, right down to who should get their bed.”