Transcription into modern English


Have you discovered documents during your research that you would like translating or explaining? Would you like to discover documents that would tell you more than the bare names and dates of your ancestors? Do you want to understand more about the history of your community through mediaeval sources? Do you need an accurate text for publication? Peter Foden can help you.

Wills are usually written in English, but “Bastard” or “Secretary” handwriting can pose problems in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Earlier wills can tell you a lot about your ancestors’ attitudes and religious beliefs as well as their economic circumstances and communities to which they belonged “kith and kin”. Peter is often asked to transcribe and explain wills downloaded from the National Archives Discovery database.

Probate inventories survive in English as well, and sometimes show the layout of your ancestors’ homes as well as their material prosperity. Handwriting can be difficult to read, and is often peppered with obscure obsolete or dialect words.

Title deeds survive in plenty in local archives; if your ancestors are recorded in extant deeds you may be able to uncover their changing fortunes, and (from family settlements) the lifecycle of the family including matchmaking, retirement and how they lived with the in-laws. Some deeds appear utterly incomprehensible: “final concords” and “common recoveries” written in court hands that might as well be Chinese, and even if you have a translation, what does it really mean anyway?

First rate work & I’m impressed. I will use Peter Foden’s services again for all my Old English to English wills etc.


Have you found documents that you find difficult to read or understand? To ask for help, putting them into modern English or explaining them, please fill in this form:

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  • If you'd like Peter's help

    with your project, please contact him today to start discussing scope, objectives and budget.
    peter@peterfoden.com
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