Susanna Hall was the elder daughter of English poet and playwright William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway.
She was baptised on 26 May 1583 at Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. Her baptism is recorded in the parish register as: "May ... 26. Susanna daughter of William Shakspere."
In May 1606 she was prosecuted for failing to attend church to receive the Sacrament at Easter under new anti-Catholic laws introduced after the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Her father's friend Hamnet Sadler was also among the 21 defendants. The charge against her was dismissed.
She married Dr John Hall on 5 June 1607 at Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon Avon. The parish register records: "Junij 5. John Hall, gentlemã & Susanna Shaxpere." He was "a physician of good reputation," with a considerable practice centred in Stratford. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, who was baptised on 21 February 1607/8.
In July 1613 she brought a legal action for slander against John Lane, Jr. who had accused her of adultery with a haberdasher named Rafe Smith. Lane did not show up to the ecclesiastical court to defend the suit and was excommunicated.
When her father died in April 1616, she inherited a life interest in his houses in New Place and Henley Street, Stratford, and Blackfriars, London, and other lands. She and her husband were also appointed executors and residual beneficiaries, entitled to all of the "good[es] Chattels Leases plate jewles & household stuffe whatsoev[er]" that remained after the payment of his debts and about £350 in legacies. The full text of her father's will is here.
Her husband died in November 1635. Susanna survived him by 14 years and died on 11 July 1649, aged 66. Her remains were buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 16 July 1649 and entered in the burial register as "Mrs Sussunah Hall widow." Her inscription reads:
Here lyeth the body of Susanna, wife of John Hall gent. the daughter of William Shakespere gent. She deceased the 11 day of July Anno 1649. aged 66.
Several actresses have portrayed Susanna in several fictional works. In 2016, English actress and writer Helen Monks played Susanna in a British television series titled ‘Upstart Crow.’ In 2017, Phoebe Austen portrayed Susanna in the American TV drama series ‘Will.’ Lydia Wilson, too, played Susanna in the 2018 film ‘All Is True.’
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Categories: Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire | Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire