When Sherlock Holmes disappeared from the public eye in 1891, the world assumed he was dead, thanks to his altercation with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls.
But even before he left London, Holmes knew he was taking a risk; in "The Final Problem," he left Watson one final note in which he admitted,
[We're fortunate to have the copies that belonged to William S. Hall, BSI ("The Blue Carbuncle"), James Montgomery, BSI ("The Red Circle"), and Joseph V. Kaluder, M.D., as well as the version that appeared in London Mystery Magazine in 1955.]
We've provided the transcript to accompany the images. To see a larger version, simply click an image.
I, Sherlock Holmes, of 221-B Baker Street, in the parish of St. Marylebone, County of London, do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament, made this sixteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-one.
I appoint my brother, Mycroft Holmes, to be my Executor. I give and bequeath all my worldly possessions as hereinafter set forth.
To my devoted friend and associate, Dr. John H. Watson, often tried, sometimes trying, but never found wanting in loyalty; my well-intentioned though anavailing mentor against the blandishness of my vice; my indisputable foil and whetstone; the perfect sop to my wounded vanity and too tactful to whisper "Norbury" in my ear when necessary; the ideal listener and the audience par excellence for those little tricks which other more discerning might well have deemed meretricious; the faithful Boswell to whose literary efforts — despite my occasional gibes — I owe whatever little fame I have enjoyed: in short, to the one true friend I have ever had, the sum of ￡5,000; also the choice of any books in my personal library (with such reservations as are mentioned below), including my commonplace books and the complete file of my cases, published and unpublished, with the sole exception of the papers in pigeonhole "M," contained in a blue envelope and marked "Moriarty," which the proper authorities will take over in the event my demise should make it impossible for me to hand them over in person.
To Mrs. Mary Watson, wife of the above, fair interloper in the Baker Street ménage, the sum of ￡1,000 in token of my appreciation of her bringing to my attention one of the most fascinating cases of my career, even though she climaxed it by depriving me of my associate ("a fair cop," as they say in the underworld); and especially in gratitude for her unselfishness in lending him to me at a moment's notice whenever necessary.
To my loyal landlady, Mrs. Martha Hudson, long suffering and incredibly tolerant of my whims and foibles, the sum of ￡2,000, which may partly compensate her for damages to her walls and furniture, but will hardly, I fear, repay her solicitous and uncomplaining devotion.
To James Wiggins, onetime tireless captain of that most efficient auxiliary, the Baker Street Irregulars, the sum of ￡250, with the suggestion that his first-born — momentarily awaited at this writing — be named after me if a boy, or, if a girl, Irene, a name I find particularly euphonic.
To William Parker, otherwise known as "Billy," my faithful page boy, whose adulation has been touching, though at times embarrassing, the sum of ￡250, to be paid at the rate of ￡50 a year for the next five years.
To Pablo Martin Meliton Sarasate y Navascues, my favorite violinist, my Stradivarius, in appreciation of many enjoyable hours of listening to his masterly playing.
To George Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, my gilt-edged German dictionary, in the hope he will find it useful should he again see the handwriting of Miss Rachel on the wall.
To Tobias Gregson, ditto, my leatherbound Hafiz, the study of whose poetry may supply a dash of that imagination necessary to the ideal reasoner.
To the authorities of Scotland Yard, one copy each of my trifling monographs on crime detection, unless happily they shall feel they have outgrown the need for the elementary suggestions of an amateur detective.
To my good brother, Mycroft Holmes, the remainder and residue of my estate, which he will be agreeably surprised to find, even after the foregoing bequests, to be no inconsiderable, and which will enable him, I hope, to take a much needed holiday from governmental cares to surroundings more congenial than those of the Diogenes Club; in the expectation that he will remain celibate for the reason of his natural life — and unnatural too, for that matter.
Signed by the said testator, Sherlock Holmes, in the presence of us, present at the same time, who, at his request, in his presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses.
THOMAS R. STOCKTON
PHILIP H. MACE
Solicitors, Staple Inn, Holborn