Paleography for Genealogists Part 2: Transcription of a Warwickshire Deed from 1675

The 17th century document arrived quickly and I have to say it is much easier working off the two originals! That said this has been a very challenging endeavor but I have greatly improved my deciphering skills. Feels as if anything in English is now a piece of cake. So for those of you who have never seen let alone handled a 350 year old document let me say it gives me the chills. That these documents can be in such good shape after that many years is a testament to the vellum on which they are written. Vellum is produced from animal skins and with English documents most likely sheepskin. The ink was most likely prepared from Oak galls combined with iron or metal filings and perhaps a binder like gum arabic.

The two documents aligned both to read in the same direction

You can see that while the text is the same there are differences. The lines do not start consistently with the same word. The actually calligraphy of each word may be easier to read on one or the other although the verbiage is the same.

In my previous post I gave you a list of books and references. I highly recommend compiling alphabet lists and common terms before getting started. I went to to describe my process as I hope it might prove helpful to you. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND “Latin for Local & Family Historians” by Denis Stuart. The book has so many helpful tools so if you are going to try your hand at a document in Latin you might want to consider buying this book first.

So what was the greatest help was finding an example in the book of a final Concord (pg 69). The sorts of documents you might encounter have a typical format and commonly used language. So for instance its very nice to look at the starting words:

And here is the opening for a Final Concord: Hec est finalis concordia fa[c]t'[a] in Curia and that is exactly what the words above say with the exception of “fat’ ” which is an abbreviation for “facta”. By studying this carefully one learns that the “H” has a tail, what appears to be an “o” is actually an ‘e” and what looks like an ‘r” is actually a “c.” Yep this is not for the faint of heart. But just like riding a bike it does get easier. However, discriminating between some letters is VERY hard. So there is a lot of guess-work and checking out of other transcribed documents that you can find. Looking at the third word the F is not too difficult but the peaks that make up “in” are tricky. Then we have what we might guess is a “t” but it is actually an “a” (more like the printed “a” we see in text like here.) The “li” are not too difficult if you know that is what they are supposed to be and then you have to get used to the final “s” which is used a lot. You would probably never guess the next letter is a “c” unless you had looked at some Latin alphabets. Notice the difference between the “o” and what looks like an “o” in the first word (which is an “e”). Then those next 3 letters could be several different letters but in this case read “nco” followed by an “r” with a tale and “dia.”

So needless to say it is a really slow process. One of the first challenges which I mentioned in the last post was deciphering the date. Then it was on to the next line and trying to figure out who the Plaintiff or grantor (aka seller) was and where the property was located.

This is the name of the grantor. Care to venture a guess? I will give you a hint the third letter of the first name and the first letter of the surname are the same letter. Need another hint? That letter is a “w”. Okay here you go the first name is Edwardium and the last name is Weston. Yeah I know it looks like Wolford but remember those “o’s” with a squiggle are “e’s” And that long large looking “n” is actually “st”. One of the ways I checked this was to look in the archives for an Edward Weston. The Shakespeare Trust Archive has a document dated 19 June 1661 (their Finding No ER3/2828) mentions a messuage [aka dwelling house] in the tenure of Edward Weston in Stratford on Avon. We also find a conveyance to Edward Weston of Over Whitacre, ironfounder for a property and cottage in September of 1684.

Well and doesn’t that work out nicely as we have the location [as above] Whittacre Superiors which translates Over Whitacre. Furthermore there are several other property deeds as well as the Will of Edward WESTON held by the National Archives written 13 March 1694 and probated 2 Nov 1694. Will mentions Edward WESTON the “Iron Founder” of the parish of Over Whittacre and the County of Warwick to be interred in the parish churchyard of Whitacre. The current Church in Over Whitacre’s church was not yet built, but there is evidence of a previous one. He names his wife Ann and children in order of birth for sons Edward, Richard, John, Robert and finally Charles. Also mentions daughters Anne SADLER, Mary and Marian WESTON. He also bequeaths to the church at Whitacre: 3 pounds 10 shillings and another 20 shillings after his burial. I wonder if Furnace End comes out of his holdings…

Warwickshire County Record Office; Warwickshire Hearth Tax Returns; Reference Number: QS11; Microfilm: PG3169 Showing Richard WESTON and Edward WESTON in 1663 Hearth Tax

When I deciphered the name as Edward WESTON my first thought was my Dad’s favorite black & white photographer, Edward WESTON. I can remember my Dad taking me to an exhibition of his works in the 1980’s. Then last night I thought well let’s see if I can figure out Edward WESTON, the photographer’s, lineage and sure enough we have Edmund WESTON born c. 1576 unknown, married 8 Nov 1597 at Shustoke, Warwickshire. He had the following children: Elizabeth 1602, Edmund 1606, Richard 1610, Jane 1613 and Sara 1617 all baptized at Shustoke.

I have not found a baptism for Edward WESTON of the Final Agreement born about 1640 but I believe he is the son of the above Richard born 1610. There appears to be only an inventory for Richard WESTON so no hope of naming him in a Will. I do know the details on Richard WESTON’s baptism at Shustoke, 16 Aug 1610 and married 4 June 1639 to a Sarah Ratl? at Great Packington. We know he was living in Over Whitacre in 1663 and that he died in 1667. Edward WESTON of the document was also there in 1663, but no other WESTONs with Hearths.

Richard WESTON’s brother Edmund was baptized 1 June 1606 at Shustoke. He married about 1650 a DELANO and died in Duxbury, Massachusetts 3 June 1686. This Edmund WESTON was the 6th great grandfather of the photographer Edward WESTON. Lest you think I am clutching at straws the distance between Shustoke and Over Whitacre from center to center is less than 2 miles.

Part of the 1636 Map of Warwickshire by Thomas MOULE

Back to the document. We find quite a few other names that help prove my transcription is on point.

Line 2: defensor(is) q[uo]d A conqu[ito] hues uno coram Franiscum North Johe Archer eq Hugone Wyndhaui Roberto Atkyns ut Justi’s & alijs Dom Regis fidelis tunc ibis prestntu. Int’ Edwardium

Line 2: Defender of the [faith] That together as one before Francis North, John Archer, Hugh Wyndham, & Robert Atkins as Justices of our lord King and other faithful people then present Item Edward

And this matches up nicely with a Final Concord and Agreement for the Court at Westminster Trinity term 1675, held by the Shakespeare Trust Archive [Finding No. ER3/3146-3147] which lists Francis NORTH, John ARCHER, Hugh WYNDHAM and Robert ATKYNS, justices, [in this case an agreement between John Keelinge and William PALMER of a property in Ladbrooke, which is slightly south of the map above.].

And finally we have the defendants or Grantees:

Line 3: Weston queria et Willim Cayley Armigereri & Marian uxer eius & Arthruius Cayley Armigereri defor'[cian]t de uno mesuage sexaginta acris t'[er]e decem acres prati sexaginta acres pastur

Line 3: Weston plaintiff and William Cayley Esquire & Marian his wife and Arthur Cayley Esquire defendant of one messuage of 60 acres land, ten acres meadow 60 acres pasture,

And sure enough we can find the CAYLEY family living in Exhall, near Coventry. Both William and Arthur are knighted. William marries a Mrs mary Cayley 2 Jun 1651 and they have a son William baptized in 1652 all at Exhall. We also find Arthur CAYLEY Knight marrying 16 Feb 1644 to Ester HALES at Exhall . There are quite a few property transactions for these CAYLEYs and also a Richard CAYLEY. Arthur is identified as being of Newland by 1677. [Newland is about 18 miles south of Over Whitacre but north of Ladbroke]. More of the transcription:

Line 4: quinq'[uaginat] acris iampnor[um] & urere & cen’t[un] pastur p nomin’od ant q’s cum pfud in Whitacre Supiors Unde pl[ac]itum conuec'[i]o[n]is sum[monitum] fuit int'[er] eos im

Line 4: 50 acres furze & heath 100 acres acres pasture by all who together with presnts in Over Whitacre Whereupon a plea of covenant was Summoned between them in

Line 5: eadem Curia Scil[ice]t q[uo]d p[re]d[ic]ti William & Maria & Arthur recogan[verunt] p'[re]dict[am] ten[ementa] & centum pasture cum p[er]tin[encis] esse Ius ip[s]ius Ed’wd ut illa que idem Edw’s h[a]b[et] de dono p'[re]dicto[rum]

Line 5: the same Court that is to say William & Maria & Arthur have acknowledged the aforesaid tenement and hundred pasture with appurtenances to be the right as those the said Edward granted with presents to

Line 6: Willm & Maria & Arthuris Et illa remiserunt & quietumclam de ip'[ips]is Willo & Mary & Arthure & hered suis p[redict]o[rum]’ Edw’ & hered[ibus] suis imp[er]p[etuu]m Et pre'[tere]a ijdem concesserunt

Line 6: William & Maria & Arthur and those they have remised & quitclaimed from the said William & Maria & Arthur & their heirs forever. And moreover the said Edward has granted for them and their heirs forever. And for this the said have granted

Still working on lines 7-8. The closing line:

Line 9: suis imp[er]p[etuu]m et c[u]r[ia] hac recogni[cione] remi[ssione] ffine and concordia dem Edw’s dedit p’rts Willi[am]& Mare & Arthurio centum & viginits libres sterling

Line 9: theirs forever. And for this the court recognizance remission fine agreement to be made quitclaim warrant fine & agreement the same Edward transfer presents William & Marie & Arthur 120 pounds Sterling.

I cannot tell you this was easy, as it was not. However tedious and time consuming it was much more rewarding than I ever thought likely. And before I bring this to a close there was one more serendipitous connection. The grandson of Edmund who settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts, namely one Jonathan WESTON is an early resident of South Kingstown, Rhode Island. If you are a follower of my blog I had identified the WESTON family as one of the families who immigrated from Warwickshire to South Kingstown.

So what are the odds that a document with no more identification than from the 1670’s in Warwickshire would have multiple connections to my line of research. Which brings me to serendipity. I realize that probability suggests that every now and then I will hit a long shot. However I do believe that we are drawn to things with which we have a connection. I would argue this is one of those cases. There are over 280 towns and villages in Warwickshire and there are 39 historic counties in England. Upper Whitacre is little more than a hamlet. So in addition to learning a lot about 17th century documents, deciphering and translating Latin I’ve had a smile with my dear old Dad. One of his last conversations with me he said, “Trust your instincts Kelly, you’ve always been right.” Not sure I’d agree, but I took it as quite a compliment coming from a strictly science and numbers engineer. His vote of confidence even though 20 years ago, has given me more confidence to follow those hunches or nudges. I urge my fellow genealogists to do the same. You may be surprised at the outcome.

Please feel free to contact me with corrections to my translation.

Kelly Wheaton Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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