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Introduction to transcribing document 2

Try your hand at transcribing document 2. You can print out the document and work through it yourself on paper. A full transcript is available for you to check your own work.

Transcription tips - READ THESE FIRST!

In this document you should watch out for:

Registered copy of will. 1723. Cat ref: PROB 11/593 q 196. Author and copyright, Thomas Pike - enlargement opens in a new window
  • Minims, as in document 1. The word in line 26 of the will looks very much like 'Knig', but there is no such word. A further clue is given by the name George which follows this word. Therefore, it must be King.
  • Letter forms. Some of the letter forms are unfamiliar to the modern eye and capital letters in this style of handwriting are particularly tricky. Nevertheless, you will quickly become used to the shapes. Also note the use of double 'f' which is a capital 'F': line 25, the ffifteenth day of ffebruary ... The alphabet will help you.
  • Abbreviations. This document does not contain many abbreviations, until you reach the last line. Names had standard abbreviations, so at that time everyone would have known that 'Jno' meant John. 'N. Pub.' is the standard abbreviation for Notaries Public. When words are expanded, any letters which do not appear in the original are put into square brackets, like the 'Jno' in this document which is - Jo[h]n.

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.