Thursday, 3 October 2019

On Latin Probates of Wills

A lot of wills, whilst themselves written in English, will have probates i Latin. THis is especially true of the PROB 11 series from the UK National Archives, containing wills proved at the Preogative Court of Canterbury. It is relatively easy to derive a date from this, and that is often in the index in any case, and involved names, but undertsanding the nuance requires translating the Latin. THis can sometimes give extra details about the people involved, whether they were present in person when the probate was granted, etc.

This isn't as easy as it sounds, however. The first problem is that whilst the probate follows a very general formula, it is not the same from one to the next, as it would be with a printed form, for example. The second issue is that the Latin is almost always heavily abbreviated which can make deciphering the text extremely difficult, especially when your knowledge of the language is not fluent.

My go to book for looking up abbreviations in the first instance is The Record Interpreter by Charles Trice Martin.

More useful however, is probably to have some examples to follow, so I present some below from wills on this blog, along with their translations. As with all my transcriptions I have kept the lines of the original document. This not only helps me when I try and find the transcribed text back in the original document, it also helps match up translations with the original transcription, as you know that the start of each line will be coincident. Once the abbreviations have been expanded, the lines can get a bit long, which means that individual lines in the original document will wrap on the rather narrow column that Blogger seems to allow.


William Midwynter - Northleach - 1501
Probatum fuit suprascript[um] testm[entum] coram m[agist]ro Willi[ia]mo Barons legu[m] doctore progative eccl[es]i[a]e xpi Cant[uariensis] sede Archce[pisco]pali
vica[r]ii connssario vij die mens[is] Maij Anno d[o]m[ini] mill[esi]mo quingetesimo primo/ Jur[amento] m[agist]ri Joh[ann]is Reed notarij pu[bli]ci procur[at]is in hac
parte Ac approbat[ur] et insumat[ur] Et comissa fuit admi[ni]stra[c]o Alicie Relicte et executrici in h[uius]mod[i] test[ament]o nomi[n]ate in p[er]sona d[i]c[t]i p[ro]cur[at]is
De bene et fidelit[er] admi[ni]strand[o] Ac de pleno et fideli Inve[n]tario citra f[estu]m Ascensionis d[o]m[ini] px futur[um] exh[iben]di Necnon de plano et
vero comp[u]to reddend[o] in debit[o] iur[i]s forma iurat/.


The above written testament has been proven before master William Barons doctor of laws deputy commissary of the prorogative church of Christ of the archepiscopal
seat of Canterbury on 7th day of the month of May Anno Domini one thousand five hundred and one. By the oath of master John Reed public notary and proctor in this
part And approved and applied And was committed the admistration to Alice Widow and executorix named in this testament in the person of the said proctor
administering well and faithfully And of a full and faithful Inventory to be produced this side of the soon to be feast of the Ascension of the Lord Christ And also of a clear and
true calculation to be returned sworn in the due form of the law.



Alice Midwynter - Northleach - 1502
Probatum fuit suprascriptu[m] test[amentu]m coram mag[ist]ro Rogero Church decretorum doctore preroga/
tive Eccl[es]i[a]e xpi Cant[uariensis] Custodi &c Comissario l[egi]time deputato xj die mensis Maij Anno domini
suprad[i]c[t]o Juramento Ric[ard]i Wenman execut[oris] personaliter comparentis et mag[ist]ri Joh[ann]is Long procur[at]is Thome
Busshe execut[oru]m d[i]c[t]o test[ament]o no[m]i[n]at[ur] &c Ac approbat[ur] et insumat[ur] &c Et comissa fuit administracio om[n]i[um] et sing[u]lor[um]
bonor[um] et debitor[um] &c execut[oru]m d[i]c[t]o test[ament]o no[m]i[n]at[ur] de bene et fidelit[er] admi[ni]strandi Ac de pleno et fideli Inventario
om[n]i[um] et sing[u]lor[um] bonor[um] et debitor[um] &c citra festum Pentecostes &c Necnon de plano et vero comp[u]to &c

The above written testament has been proven before master Roger Church doctor of decrees Warden
of the prerogative Church of Christ of Canterbury etc. legitimately deputy Commissary on 11th day of the month of May Anno domini
above written By the oath of Ricard Wenman executor appearing personally and master John Long proctor Thomas
Busshe executors of the said named testament etc. And approved and applied And was commited the administration of all and singular
the goods and debts etc. to the executors of the said named testament administering well and faithfully And of a full and faithful Inventory
of all and singular the goods and debts etc. on this side of the feast of Pentecost etc. And also of a clear and true calculation etc.



William Underehill - Newbolde Revell, Warwickshire - 1570
Probatum fuit suprascriptu[m] testamentu[m] Coram Mag[ist]ro Waltero Haddon Legum Doctore Curie Prerogative Cant[uariensis] Comissar[io]
apud London Decimo die mensis Aprilis Ao. Dmi. Mill[es]imo Quingen[tesim]o Septuagesimo Juramento Thome Callowe personal[ite]r p[rese]ntis et Johannis
Shirley et Roberte Brokesbye in persona dicte Thome executor[um] Quibus comissa fuit admi[ni]straco bonor[um] etc De bene etc Ac de
pleno et fideli Inven[ta]rio etc exhibend[o] Necnon de plano comp[ut]o etc reddend[o] Ad Sancta dei Ev[a]ngelia Jurat

The above written testament has been proven before Master Walter Haddon Doctor of Laws Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
at London on the Tenth day of the month of April Anno Domini One Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy By the oath of Thomas Callowe personally present and John Shirley and Robert Brokesbye executors To whom was commited administration of the goods etc well etc And of
a full and faithful Inventory etc to be produced And also of a clear calculation etc to be returned Sworn Upon the Holy Gospels of god



Nicholas Austen - Banbury, Oxfordshire - 1613

Vicesimo septimo die mens[i]s Julij Anno Domini millesimo
sexcentisimo decimo tertio Emanavit Commissio Johanni Austen et Thome Webbe supervisor
nominatis in testamento sive ultima voluntate predict[a] ad administrac[io]ne[m] bona Jura et credita
dicti Defuncti iuxta tenorem et effectum testamenti sive ultime voluntatis predicti def[eren]s
Durante minori Etate Willi[a]m Austen et Abigalis Awsten liberorum ?alium et l[egi]t[i]mo[r]u[m]
dicti Defuncti et executorum in eodem testamento nominat[ur] de bene xc Jurat ./~/.


The twenty seventh day of the month of July Anno Domini one thousand
six hundred and thriteen The Commission Issued to John Austen and Thomas Webb named
overseers in the testament or last will aforesaid the administration of the goods rights and loans
of the said Deceased according to the manner and effect of the testament or last will aforesaid with regard to
duration of the minority ages of William Austen and Abigaie Awsten ? ? and legitimate heirs
the said Deceased and named exectutors in the same testament Sworn well etc.



Jane Vnderhill - Crimscott, Warwickshire - 1648
Probatum fuit Testamentum suprascriptum
apud London coram venerabili viro Domino Nathaniele Brent milite legum doctore
Curiae Prerogat[ive] magistro sive Custode legitime constituto vicesimo septimo die, mensis Januarii
Anno Domini (iuxta computacaem ecclesia Anglicana) millesimo, sexcentesimo quadra[gesi]mo
octavo Juramento Johannis Vnderhill filii dicte defuncte et executoris in huiusmodi testam[en]to
nominati Cuicomissa fuit administraco omnium et singulorum bonorum, iurium et creditoru[m]
dicte defuncte De bene et fideliter administrando eadem ad sancta Dei evangelia
vigore Comiss[io]nis in eaparte alias emanata Jurat/    Extur

The above written Testament has been proven
at London before the venerable Sir Nathaniele Brent doctor of laws
master or warden of the Prerogative Court lawfully constituted on the twenty seventh day, of the month of January
Anno Domini (calculated according to the Anglican church) one thousand six hundred and forty
eight By the oath of John Vnderhill son of the said deceased and the executor named in this testament
to whom was commited the administration of all and singular the goods, rights and loans
of the said deceased administering the same well and faithfully sworn upon the holy gospels of God
by the power of the commission on the part of another by the law.


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