Editorial method

Pages xxiii-xxiv

London Consistory Court Wills, 1492-1547. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1967.

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General. The aim throughout has been to reproduce as much of the original text as possible while omitting common form. Wills written wholly or partly in Latin have been translated briefly and literally. All translations and all interpolated words not occurring in the text are printed between square brackets. 'Dominus' in the case of priests has been rendered as 'Sir'; 'Magister' as 'Master', and 'Jacobus' as 'James'.

The text of wills in English is given in full with the exceptions set out below. Deliberate omissions are not indicated, the form . . . being used to indicate gaps due to damage to the manuscript. The form [blank] indicates a gap in the original text.

Full transcripts of two wills in Latin from register Palmer (1 and 53) and one separate will in English (120) are given in the Appendixes 1–3. A comparison of these with the versions given in the body of the book will show the kind of phrases and words which have been omitted throughout and the conventions which have been adopted as regards capital letters, punctuation, spelling, etc. Two wills (53 and 120) have been reproduced in Plates II and III.

Headings. For wills in register Palmer the name of the testator given in the heading follows the form of the name given in the margin of the register. The testator's name in the headings of the separate wills is given as it first occurs in the will. The date is that of the will, not of probate. Years have been reckoned to begin on 1 January and not on 25 March.

Omissions. The preliminary phrases, 'In Dei nomine', the date, the testator's statement that he is whole in mind, etc., and is making his testament and last will, etc., have been omitted, but any indication that the testator is sick in body has been included. Repetitive wording has been cut out, e.g. 'I give and bequeath' has been reduced to 'I give' or 'I bequeath' and these words have been omitted entirely from subsequent sentences if the meaning is clear. Words like 'item', 'also' and 'aforesaid' have been omitted wherever possible. The standard phraseology concerning payments for tithes and oblations negligently withheld or forgotten has been reduced to a factual statement of the amount to be paid and variants of the phrase 'Given the day and year above written' which frequently occur at the end of wills have been omitted. Alterations in the text, words crossed out or inserted, are not noted unless they appear to have greater significance than the carelessness of the scribe (e.g. 135).

Capitals, punctuation, extension of abbreviations, etc. The use of capitals and the punctuation have been modernised throughout (except in the documents printed in extenso in Appendixes 1–4). The spelling of all personal and place names has been given as in the document except that Latin forms of personal names have been anglicised. Abbreviated words have been extended wherever the extension is certain; where the spelling is in doubt the modern form has been preferred (e.g. the abbreviated form of 'Sir' has been extended thus although the spelling 'Ser' frequently occurs in the text when the word is written in full). Flourishes at the end of a word which may or may not be intended to indicate an abbreviation or a final 'e' have been ignored. 'Xpen' has been transcribed as 'Christen'. Thorn, or 'y' used as thorn, has been rendered as 'th', and yogh as 'g' or 'y'. The use of 'i' and 'j', 'u' and 'v' has been modernised. Pound, shilling and pence signs have been transcribed as 'li. s. d.'

Numerals. All roman numerals have for convenience been printed in arabic; where arabic numerals are used in the original document the fact has been noted.

Notes. For the wills in register Palmer the translation of the 'probatum' clause has been reduced to the date and the name of the official responsible, unless it contains something unusual or of special interest, e.g. the location of the court or the refusal to act of one or more of the executors. A brief translation is given of any marginal or other notes made by the registrar. Any reference on a separate will to the effect that it had been proved or registered, or any other contemporary endorsement, is noted at the end of the text of the will.

Explanatory notes on the text are given after each will in small type. Modern equivalents of variously spelt personal and place names or objects can be traced through the indexes, but where the spelling of a word is very obscure a modern rendering is given in a note.