So That's Where I Get It From

July 26, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Challenge #29: Practice Reading Handwriting

I’m a few days late for writing this, but I did try to do Challenge #29 and at the beginning of last week added a Will dated 1545 for Jone Reade as it was a perfect example of why I needed to practice reading handwriting such as this.  This particular Will is one that I really can’t decipher anything on so I was hoping that by doing this Challenge I would get to be able to read at least some of it by the end of last week.

Well, I have to say I am none the wiser regarding this Will, even though I checked the links and suggestions I was given in my comments section by very helpful ladies.

I liked the suggestion to go to Staples and have a large copy of the Will done, but our Staples is quite a long way away and because of other things, I wasn’t able to get there to get a large copy!!

Another suggestion was to use Picasa and so I went to use it only to find they had a download only for XP and Vista.  My poor computer died last year, so we now have Windows 7 and there was nowhere I could see to do a download for that.

I did a browse for Windows 7 and Picasa and found some forums that seemed to have people writing in with problems with Windows 7 and Picasa, so thought it best to leave that for now!!

At the Scanfest last night I “met”  Jasia who has the Creative Gene blog and she told me that Picasa is ok with her Windows 7, but although I now will give it a try, it’s a bit late to be included in this Challenge.

OK, there were still the links to tutorials and information about old handwriting.  I gave them a go, but they did not really help at all with my particular Will that I so wanted to decipher.  But, I did find some examples of English Wills of the 1500s and managed to see the alphabet, which is a great help.

I also learned that as well as abbreviations, some of which I already know from other Wills, the people of that time (and later) wrote in a kind of shorthand that they all knew (well, those that could read and write of course).  I had no previous knowledge of this and so knowing that a little squiggle after a certain letter means something and a little squiggle over the end of a word means it’s a longer word and a little squiggle somewhere else means something else is a great help.  I now know to look for the shorthand letters instead of trying to make out a word that I can’t decipher when it might be one of those shorthand words.  Wonderful.

So, although I did not succeed in deciphering the Will in time for the end of the week’s Challenge, I have learned quite a bit that is really going to help and so for me this is an ongoing Challenge and one day you might just see the undecipherable  (indecipherable(?)) Will being featured with a transcript on Amanuensis Monday!!

July 17, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Challenge #29 – Practice Reading Handwriting

Thomas of GeneaBloggers has just invited us to the latest 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy Challenge – the inspiration for these Challenges coming from Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog.  Our Challenge this week is to Practice reading handwriting because as Thomas explains, “Deciphering the penmanship of our ancestors is an exercise in patience, but this is a great skill to have in your genealogy tool box”.

Well, as far as I’m concerned this Challenge couldn’t have come at a better time!  Last week I finally received all the Wills I had ordered from the Buckinghamshire Record Office and one has stumped me completely!

I know from having many other Wills it is not always easy to make out what has been written with the lovely flowy writing they used in the past centuries and with their spelling of the English words etc., but  if I have difficulty reading them, I can usually at least make out names and places.  But, there is this one Will I have now received and all I know is it is the Will of Jone Reade (I think she may be a Widow) of Long Crendon (I think) in Buckinghamshire dated 1545.

I’ve looked and looked at the Will, looked at it with a terrific magnifying sheet my partner Paul bought for me to help with all my Wills.  I’ve scanned it and looked at it on the computer and zoomed in no end of times, but I just can’t make the words out at all.  I can’t really make out names or places.  I think I found the word “bequeath” but I’m not entirely sure as I can’t make out the other words either side of it!!  So, with this one Will I am completely bamboozled. 

This hasn’t happened before so I am delighted to accept Challenge #29 and am hoping that at least by the end of the coming week, I might have been able to look at olde worlde handwriting sites on the internet that just might help me with at least deciphering some of Jone Reade’s Will.

Have a look at the Will and if anyone can make any of it out I would love to know!!!  😉

This copy in my private collection but obtained from Buckinghamshire Record Office - copyright 2010

I think it actually starts with “In the name of God amen”  but I am not completely sure as to me with my eyes it might only be what I think it says!!  I’m trying to focus on some particular letters so that it might help pick them up elsewhere in the Will to help decipher the words.  Now I’ve added it here I can see the words “… beinge fit in bodye …” and I know from other Wills they usually go on to say something like “and of sound mind and memory” or words to that effect, but of course I don’t want to just surmise that has been also included in the Will, so I know I must really try to focus on what has actually been written here.

I am looking forward to this new Challenge so much and if it helps me with this Will, then any others that I’ve had just a little trouble deciphering will be a doddle!!

I’ll let you know Friday how I get on!!  😉

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