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Wills follow a standard format at this time, normally beginning with:
In the name of God Amen.
This is followed by the personal details of the testator:
I Thomas Pike of Rotherhithe in the County of Surrey Shipwright.
The testator then states that, in order to make the will valid, he is of sound mind and memory:
being in bodily health and of sound and disposing mind and memory.
Originally a will dealt with freehold land, and a testament with personal goods:
My last Will and Testament.
The testator commends his soul to God. This may be followed by some other religious phrase, a practice continued until the mid 18th century:
I recommend my Soul to God that gave it.
The testator often states where he wishes to be buried:
my body I commit to the Earth or Sea it shall please God to order.
This is followed by the bequests to family and friends, often in no particular order:
I do devise and bequeath unto James Whittaker of the Tower of London Gentleman.
The bequests are followed by the appointment of an executor, who is responsible for having the will proved and carrying out the instructions it contains:
I do hereby nominate and appoint the said James Whittaker executor of this my last Will and Testament...
A will ends with the signature of the testator, and those of the witnesses. For a will to be valid it had to be witnessed by at least two people. The will would then be sealed in the presence of the testator.
The example we are using here is a registered copy and, therefore, does not contain the actual signature. It does, however, record the fact that the original will had been signed: lines 27-28.