Where There's A Will …

image AP

The public can now see the final will and testaments of some very famous people, almost instantly on a computer screen with the click of a mouse button. How famous? CBS News Sunday Morning's Charles Osgood gives a peek.




It happened this week, our first online look at Shakespeare's last will and testament.

Britain's National Archives has just posted more than one million wills on its Internet site, including those of roughly one hundred major historical figures.

At center stage is Will Shakespeare's will, in which he bequeaths his "second-best bed" to his wife, and a silver bowl to his daughter, Judith. One document contains three of the six surviving Shakespeare signatures.

Speaking of Elizabethans, there's Sir Francis Drake, the great naval hero who requested a naval funeral, featuring a burial at sea with two favorite ships nearby.

Also on board are Admiral Horatio Nelson and The Duke of Wellington, as well as their enemy Napoleon Bonaparte, who died a British prisoner. In his will, Napoleon asks his son to adopt his personal motto: "Everything for the French People."

And let's not forget all the other writers.

For example, Jane Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice, appears to show a bit of prejudice in her own will, leaving the equivalent of $124,000 in today's money to her "dearest" sister, Casandra Elizabeth, while leaving just under $8,000 to her brother Henry.

On and on the list of wills goes, the final word from a hundred of some of the most famous people who ever lived.

To quote William Shakespeare: "The rest is silence."

  • Rome Neal

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