Author Topic: Old will - 1729 - Easy to decipher?  (Read 216 times)

Offline gazania

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Old will - 1729 - Easy to decipher?
« on: Sunday 31 December 17 00:12 GMT (UK) »
I have identified on a will index, a will for a possible ancestor.  The will is dated 1729 and the person is described as a yeoman.   How easy will it be to decipher a will of this date?  (I have poor eyesight)  And will a will of this date have much information?  I have to purchase the will through an Archives office.  Thanks Gazania
ALDERMAN, Bucks
BELK, Yorkshire, London
CARLING, Bedfordshire
CUNDITH,CUNDILL, Yorkshire, PALIN. Lincolnshire
FOX, Essex; Camberwell Surrey
LANE, Cork IE;Askeaton LIM, Liverpool, Clifton, Bristol
VOLLER, Surrey
WALL Clonlara Co Clare Ireland
WAREHAM, Esher, Surrey; London
WINCH, Surrey

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Offline horselydown86

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Re: Old will - 1729 - Easy to decipher?
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 31 December 17 04:57 GMT (UK) »
I will try to answer your questions, but you must be aware that in the absence of the document itself these can only be general thoughts.

How easy will it be to decipher a will of this date?  (I have poor eyesight)

In good, readable condition, a will of 1729 will normally require a degree of experience with old documents to read entirely.  This is due to the presence of certain unusual characters and contractions in the text.

However, the Handwriting Board on Rootschat can help you with these issues, even to the extent of transcribing the whole (unless it's very long).

Generally, the wills of yeomen run to one or two loosely written pages, plus (if it's an original will and you are lucky) an inventory of one to three pages.

The great unknown is condition.  If the original is torn, water damaged or excessively dirty or faded, some proportion of the text may be lost.

And will a will of this date have much information?

This is impossible to know.  Some have little more than, "I give everything to my wife".

Most wills would name the wife and at least some of the children.  Then you often find family among the witnesses, overseers and supervisors (and appraisors of the inventory), if they are named.

It's quite rare to find direct information about previous generations in the wills of yeomen.

There may be some information about landholdings, but the majority of yeoman wills of my experience haven't contained such information.  Copyhold landholdings are not normally devised in yeoman wills.


Before you place the order you should be certain that you are to receive a will and not an administration.  An administration usually contains nothing beyond the names of the administrator and bondsmen.

Ask the RO if it is an original or registered will.  An original may have the testator's signature.

Ask whether there is an inventory.

Ask about the condition and readability.

Finally, point out that you have trouble with your eyesight and ask under what conditions they will give permission for you to post some or all of the image on the Handwriting Board.

Custom ordering from afar is always a gamble, and it's hugely disappointing on the occasions when you lose.

However, I believe that to research properly we have to gather every possible source for our people that we can lay our hands on.




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Offline gazania

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Re: Old will - 1729 - Easy to decipher?
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 31 December 17 05:30 GMT (UK) »
Thank you very much for your most comprehensive reply.  In particular, the notion of asking questions of the RO.  I had not thought of that.

I am now more confidant about ordering the will, with some expectation of what it may or may not contain. Or that I had might miss something in my ignorance.  Or in the worse case scenario, the will is no more than some tangible proof of a possible ancestor.

Thank you again for your thoughts and the the time taken.  Happy 2018!  Gazania
ALDERMAN, Bucks
BELK, Yorkshire, London
CARLING, Bedfordshire
CUNDITH,CUNDILL, Yorkshire, PALIN. Lincolnshire
FOX, Essex; Camberwell Surrey
LANE, Cork IE;Askeaton LIM, Liverpool, Clifton, Bristol
VOLLER, Surrey
WALL Clonlara Co Clare Ireland
WAREHAM, Esher, Surrey; London
WINCH, Surrey

Offline horselydown86

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Re: Old will - 1729 - Easy to decipher?
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 31 December 17 13:28 GMT (UK) »
Happy New Year to you too.

Just a quick postscript - if you have a choice between the original and the registered will, and assuming condition, readability and price are the same for both, then choose the original.