The Wyll and Testament of Isabella Whitney

The Aucthour
(though loth to leaue the Citie)
vpon her Friendes procurement, is con-
ſtrained to departe: wherfore (ſhe fayneth as ſhe
would die) and maketh her VVYLL and Teſta
ment, as ſoloweth:
VVith large Legacies of ſuch
Goods and riches which ſhe moſte aboundantly
hath left behind her: and therof maketh LON-
don ſole executor to ſe her Legacies performed.
ℂ A comunication which the Auctor had
to London, before ſhe made her VVyll.
THe time is come I muſt departe,
from thee ah famous Citie:
I neuer

FamyliThis text has been supplied. Reason: Smudging dating from the original print process. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (JJ)a and friendly Epistles,
I neuer yet to rue my ſmart,1
did finde that thou hadſt pitie,
Wherefore ſmall cauſe ther is, yt I
ſhould greeue from thee go:
But many Women foolyſhly,
lyke me, and other moe,
Doe ſuch a fyxed fancy ſet,
on thoſe which least deſarue,
That long it is ere wit we get,
away from them to ſwarue,2
But tyme with pittie oft wyl tel
to thoſe that wil her try:
Whether it beſt be more to mell,3
or vtterly defye.
And now hath time me put ĩ mind,
of thy great cruelnes:
That neuer once a help wold finde,
to eaſe me in diſtres.
Thou neuer yet, woldſt credit geue
to boord me for a yeare:
Nor with Apparell me releue
except thou payed weare.
No, no, thou neuer didſt me good,
nor euer wilt I know:

before her departyng.
Yet am I in no angry moode,
but wyll, or ere I goe
In perfect loue and charytie,
my Teſtament here write:
And leaue to thee ſuch Treaſurye,
as I in it recyte.
Now ſtand a ſide and geue me leaue
to write my lateſt Wyll:
And ſee that none you do deceaue,
of that I leaue them tyl.
The maner of her
Wyll, & what ſhe left to London:
and to all thoſe in it: at her departing.
I Whole in body, and in minde,
but very weake in Purſe:
Doo make, and write my Teſtament
for feare it wyll be wurſe.
And fyrſt I wholy doo commend,
my Soule and Body eke:
To God the Father and the Son,
ſo long as I can ſpeake.
And after ſpeach: my Soule to hym,
and Body to the Graue:
Tyll time that all ſhall riſe agayne,
their Judgement for to haue.

The auctors teſtament,
And then I hope they both ſhal méete,
to dwell for aye in ioye:
Whereas I truſt to ſee my Friends
releaſt, from all annoy.
Thus haue you heard touching my ſoule,
and body what I meane:
I truſt you all wyll witnes beare,
I haue a ſtedfaſt brayne.
ℂ And now let mée diſpoſe ſuch things,
as I ſhal leaue behinde:
That thoſe which shall receaue the ſame,
may know my wylling minde.
I firſte of all to London leaue
becauſe I there was bred:
Braue buildyngs rare, of Churches4 ſtore,
and Pauls to the head.
Betweene the ſame: fayre ſtreats5 there bée,
and people goodly ſtore:
Becauſe their keeping craueth coſt,
I yet wil leaue him more.
Firſt for their foode, I Butchers leaue,
that euery day ſhall kyll:
By Thames you ſhal haue Brewers ſtore,
and Bakers at your wyll.
And ſuch as orders doo obſerue,
and eat fiſh thrice a weeke:
I leaue two Streets, full fraught therwith,
they neede not farre to ſeeke.
I full of Wollen leave:

before her departying.
And Linnen ſtore in Friday ſtréete,
if they mée not deceaue.
And thoſe which are of callyng ſuch,
that coſtlier they require:
I Mercers leaue, with ſilke ſo rich,
as any would deſyre.
In Cheape of them, they ſtore ſhal finde
and likewiſe in that ſtreete:
I Goldſmithes leaue, with Iuels ſuch,
as are for Ladies meete.
And Plate to furnysh Cubbards with,
full braue there ſhall you finde:
With Purle of Siluer and of Golde,
to ſatiſfye your minde.
With Hoods, Bungraces, Hats or Caps,
ſuch ſtore are in that ſtreete:
As if on ton ſide you should miſſe
the tother ſerues you forte,
For Nets of euery kynd of ſort,
I leaue within the pawne:
French Ruffes, high Purles, Gorgets and (Sléeues
of any kind of Lawne.
For Purſe or Kniues, for Combe or Glaſſe,
or any néedeful knacke
I by the Stoks haue left a Boy,
wil aſke you what you lack.
I Hoſe doo leaue in Birchin Lane,
of any kynd of ſyſe:
For Women ſtitchte, for men both Trunks
and thoſe of Gaſcoyne giſe.

The auctors teſtament,
Bootes, Shoes or Pantables good ſtore,
Saint Martins hath for you:
In Cornwall, there I leaue you Beds,
and all that longe thereto.
For Women ſhall you Taylors haue,
by Bow, the chiefeſt dwel:
In euery Lane you ſome ſhall finde,
can doo indifferent well.
And for the men, few Stréetes or Lanes,
but Bodymakers bee:
And ſuch as make the ſwéeping Cloakes,
with Gardes beneth the Knée.
Artyllery at Temple Bar,
and Dagges at Tower hyll:
Swords and Bucklers of the beſt,
are nye the Fleete vntyll.
Now when thy Folke are fed and clad
with ſuch as I haue namde:
For daynty mouthes, and ſtomacks weake
ſome Iunckets must be framde.
Wherfore I Poticaries leaue,
with Banquets in their Shop:
Phiſicians alſo for the ſicke,
Diſeaſes for to ſtop,
Some Royſters ſtyll, muſt bide in thée,
and ſuch as cut it out:
That with the guiltleſſe quarel wyl,
to let their blood about.
For them I cunning Surgions leaue,
some Playſters to apply.

before her departying.
That Ruffians may not ſtyll be hangde,
nor quiet perſons dye.
For Salt, Otemeale, Candles, Sope,
or what you els doo want:
In many places, Shops are full,
I left you nothing ſcant.
Yf they that kéepe what I you leaue,
aſke Mony: when they ſell it:
At Mint, there is ſuch ſtore, it is
vnpoſſible to tell it.
At Stiliarde ſtore of Wines there bée,
your dulled mindes to glad:
And handſome men, that muſt not wed
except they leaue their trade.
They oft ſhal ſéeke for proper Gyrles,
and ſome perhaps ſhall fynde:
(That neede compels, or lucre lures
to ſatiſfye their mind.
And neare the ſame, I houſes leaue,
for people to repayre:
To bathe themſelues, ſo to preuent
infection of the ayre.
On Saturdayes I wiſh that thoſe,
which all the wéeke doo drug:
Shall thyther trudge, to trim them vp
on Sondayes to looke ſmug.
Yf any other thing be lackt
in thée, I wyſh them looke:
For there it is: I little brought
but nothyng from thée tooke.

The auctors teſtament,
Now for the people in thee left,
I haue done as I may:
And that the poore, when I am gone,
haue cauſe for me to pray.
I wyll to priſons portions leaue,
what though but very ſmall:
Yet that they may remember me,
occaſion be it ſhall:
And fyrſt the Counter they ſhal haue,
leaſt they ſhould go to wrack:
Some Coggers and ſome honeſt men,
that Sergantes draw a back.
And ſuch as Friends wyl not them bayle,
whoſe coyne is very thin:
For them I leaue a certayne hole,
and little eaſe within.
The Newgate, once a Monthe ſhal haue
a ſeſſions for his ſhare:
Leaſt being heapt, Infection might
procure a further care.
And at thoſe ſeſſions ſome ſhal ſkape,
with burning nere the Thumb:
And afterward to beg their fées
tyll they haue got the ſome.
And ſuch whoſe deedes deſerueth death,
and twelue haue found the ſame:
They ſhall be drawne vp Holborne hill,
to come to further ſhame:
Well, yet to ſuch I leaue a Nag
ſhal ſoone their ſorowes ceaſe:

before her departyng.
For he ſhal either breake their necks
or gallop from the preace.
TheFléete, not in their circuit is,
yet If I geue him nought:
It might procure his curſe, ere I
vnto the ground be brought.
Wherfore I leaue some Papiſt olde
to vnder prop his roofe:
And to the poore within the ſame,
a Bore for their behoofe.
What makes you ſtanders by to ſmile.
and laugh so in your ſléeue:
I thinke it is, becauſe that I
to Ludgate nothing geue.
I am not now in caſe to lye,
here is no place of ieſt:
I dyd reſerue, that for my ſelfe,
yf I my health poſſeſt.
And euer came in credit ſo
a debtor for to bée.
When dayes of paiment did approch,
I thither ment to flee.
To ſhroude my ſelfe amongſt the reſt,
that chuſe to dye in debt:
Rather then any Creditor,
ſhould money from them get.
Yet cauſe I féele my ſelfe ſo weake
that none mée credit dare:
I hére reuoke: and doo it leaue,
some Banckrupts to his ſhare.

The auctors teſtament,
To all the Bookebinders by Paulles
because I lyke their Arte:
They ery weeke ſhal mony haue,
when they from Bookes departe.
Amongſt them all, my Printer muſt,
haue ſom what to his ſhare:
I wyll my Friends theſe Bookes to bye
of him, with other ware
For Maydens poore, I Widdoers ritch,
do leaue, that oft ſhal dote:
And by that meanes ſhal mary them,
to ſet the Girles aflote.
And wealthy Widdowes wil I leaue,
to help yong Gentylmen:
Which when you haue, in any caſe
be courteous to them then:
And ſée their Plate and Iewells eake
may not be mard with ruſt.
Nor let their Bags too long be full,
for feare that they doo burſt.
To ery Gate vnder the walles,
that compas thée about:
I Fruit wiues leaue to entertayne
ſuch as come in and out.
To Smithfeelde I muſt ſomething leaue
my Parents there did dwell:
So careleſſe for to be of it,
none wolde accompt it well.
Wherfore it thrice a wéeke ſhall haue,
of Horſe and neat good ſtore.

The auctors teſtament,
And in his Spitle, blynd and lame,
to dwell for euermore.
And Bedlem muſt not be forgot,
for that was oft my walke:
I people there too many leaue,
that out of tune doo talke.
At Bridewel there ſhal Bedelles be,
and Matrones that ſhal ſtyll
See Chalke wel chopt, and ſpinning plyde;
aud turning of the Mill.
For ſuch as cannot quiet bee,
but ſtriue for Houſe or Land:
At Th’innes of Court, I Lawyers leaue
to take their cauſe in hand.
And alſo leaue I at ech Inne
of Court, or Chauncerye:
Of Gentylmen, a youthfull roote,
full of Actiuytie:
For whom I ſtore of Bookes haue left,
at each Bookebinders ſtall:
And parte of all that London hath
to furniſh them withall.
And when they are with ſtudy cloyd:
to recreate theyr minde:
Of Tennis Courts, of dauncing Scooles,
and fence they ſtore ſhal finde.
And euery Sonday at the leaſt,
I leaue to make them ſport.

The auctors teſtament,
In diuers places Players, that
of wonders ſhall reporte.
Now London haue I (for thy ſake)
within thee, and without:
As coms into my memory,
diſpearſed round about
Such needfull thinges, as they ſhould haue
heere left now vnto thee:
When I am gon, with conſience.
let them diſpearced bee.
And though I nothing named haue,
to bury mee withall:
Conſider that aboue the ground,
annoyance bee I ſhall.
And let me haue a ſhrowding Sheete
to couer mee from ſhame:
And in obliuyon bury mée
and neuer more mee name.
Ringings nor other Ceremonies,
vſe you not for coſt:
Nor at my buriall, make no feaſt,
your mony were but loſt.
Reioyce in God that I am gon,
out of this vale ſo vile.
And that of ech thing, left ſuch ſtore,
as may your wants exile.
I make thee ſole executor, becauſe
I lou’de thée beſt.
And thée I put in truſt, to geue
the goodes vnto the reſt.

before her departyng.
Because thou ſhalt a helper neede,
In this ſo great a chardge,
I wyſh good Fortune, be thy guide, leaſt
thou ſhouldſt run at lardge.
The happy dayes and quiet times,
they both her Seruants bee.
Which well wyll ſerue to fetch and bring,
ſuch things as neede to thee.
¶Wherfore (good London) not refuſe,
for helper her to take:
Thus being weake and wery both
an end heere wyll I make.
To all that aſke what end I made,
and how I went away:
Thou answer maiſt: like thoſe which heere,
no longer tary may.
And vnto all that wyſh mee well,
or rue that I am gon:
Doo me comend, and bid them ceaſe
my abſence for to mone.
And tell them further, if they wolde,
my preſence ſtyll haue had:
They ſhould haue ſought to mend my luck;
which euer was too bad.
So fare thou well a thouſand times,
God ſheelde thee from thy foe:
And ſtyll make thee victorious,
of thoſe that ſeeke thy woe.
And (though I am perſwade) that I
ſhall neuer more thee ſee:

The auctors teſtament.
Yet to the last, I ſhal not ceaſe
to wiſh much good to thee.
This, xx. of October I,
A Thouſand: v. hundred ſeuenty three
as Alminacks deſcry.
Did write this Wyll with mine owne hand
and it to London gaue:
In witnes of the ſtanders by,
whose names yf you wyll haue
Paper, Pen and Standiſh were:
at that ſame preſent by:
With Time, who promiſed to reueale,
ſo faſt as ſhe could hye
The ſame: leaſt of my nearer kyn,
for any thing ſhould vary:
So finally I make an end
no longer can I tary.
¶FINIS.   by  IS.   VV.


  1. rue my smart = ease my pain"> (JJ)
  2. swarue = swerve (i.e., go) (JJ)
  3. mell = literally, to meddle, but meaning to have dealings with. The speaker says that Time will tell those who wait whether it’s better to continue to stay with an undeserving lover or to renounce one’s faith in them. See OED mell v.1, meaning I.a.a and OED defy v.1, meaning 1.a. (JJ)
  4. See our Placeography for a listing of all churches in early modern London. (JJ)
  5. See our Placeography for a listing of all churches in early modern London. (JJ)


  • Stow, John, and William fitz-Stephen. Survey of London: Cordwainer Street Ward. The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 26 Jun. 2020,

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MLA citation

Whitney, Isabella. The Will and Testament of Isabella Whitney. The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 26 Jun. 2020,

Chicago citation

Whitney, Isabella. The Will and Testament of Isabella Whitney. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 26, 2020.

APA citation

Whitney, I. 2020. The Will and Testament of Isabella Whitney. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

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Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Whitney, Isabella
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - The Will and Testament of Isabella Whitney
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
PY  - 2020
DA  - 2020/06/26
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 


RT Web Page
SR Electronic(1)
A1 Whitney, Isabella
A6 Jenstad, Janelle
T1 The Will and Testament of Isabella Whitney
T2 The Map of Early Modern London
WP 2020
FD 2020/06/26
RD 2020/06/26
PP Victoria
PB University of Victoria
LA English
OL English

TEI citation

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