Susanna Shakespeare


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John Hall (c. 1575—1635) physician

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Daughter of William; baptized 26 May 1583. Her name occurs in a recusant list of 1606 for failing to receive communion on Easter Sunday, which implies that she was suspected of having Catholic sympathies. She married John Hall on 5 June 1607. Their daughter, Elizabeth, was baptized on 21 February 1608. On 15 July 1615 she sued John Lane for slanderously saying that she ‘had the running of the reins and had been naught with Ralph Smith at [?and] John Palmer.’ For thus accusing her of having venereal disease and of committing adultery, Lane was excommunicated. These events are dramatized in Peter Whelan's play The Herbal Bed, first performed in The Other Place in 1996. She and her husband were the executors of Shakespeare's will, and she inherited New Place and most of his other lands and property. Hall died in 1635. Susanna continued to live at New Place with her daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Thomas Nash. She died on 11 July 1649 and was buried next to her husband in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church. Her gravestone is inscribed: Witty above her sex, but that's not all;Wise to salvation was good Mistress Hall.Something of Shakespeare was in that, but thisWholly of him with whom she's now in bliss.Then, passenger, hast ne'er a tearTo weep with her that wept with all?That wept, yet set herself to chereThem up with comforts cordial.Her love shall live, her mercy spread,When thou hast ne'er a tear to shed.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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