Please help me decipher 1623 visitation

+9 votes
I'm looking at:

Henry Chitting, The visitation of the county of Gloucester, taken in the year 1623

Specifically page 80 (

At the top right, under the HICKS header, it reads:

Harl. MSS. 1041, fo. 43; 1543, fo. 74.

There are also, after some names, notations such as "ob. 2 H 7" and "ob 38  H. 8"

What do these all mean, please?

in Genealogy Help by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (863k points)

4 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
The Harleys, father and son, were Earls of Oxford and manuscript collectors.  They built a huge collection which was later bought for the nation by the British Museum.

The collection included pedigree books.  As works of art, basically - nice coats of arms and all.  They weren't interested in genealogical accuracy.  Neither was the British Museum.

Most of the pedigree books were the collections of antiquaries and arms painters.  Sometimes those people got to make copies of Visitations.  Sometimes they combined Visitations.  They rarely resisted the temptation to make their own amendments and additions.

Those messed-about copies of Visitations became the major source for the Visitation books published in the 19th century.  Sometimes they were compared with official versions at the College of Arms, sometimes they weren't.  Sometimes the official versions were in a worse state.

Apparently MS 1011 is a copy of the 1582 Visitation, made by a John Saunders, with many additions and continuations of his own, including copies of about half the 1623 Visitation.

MS 1543 began as a copy of 1582 by Richard Mundy, an arms painter, with his own additions.  Then in 1623 he lent it to one of the heralds, who did half the Visitation by updating Mundy's copy.

What seems to have happened with Hicks is that somebody collected a not-wonderful pedigree of the Tortworth family down to 1603 (Thomas and his heiress wife Joan are missing).

Then in 1623 Sir William Hicks of Beverston Castle turns up to register his pedigree, but he knows nothing beyond his grandparents.

But somebody at some point thinks the pedigrees must link up, well they're both Hicks and both Gloucestershire, so they put in a dotted line as a guess.

Which was a very bad guess, because when John Hicks died in 38 H 8, 1546-47, the 4-year-old (3 really) was his heir.  So Thomas has to be a 2nd son, born about 1545, which makes him younger than his "grandson" Sir Michael.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (598k points)
selected by Lois Tilton
+9 votes
I think it indicates Harl. Manuscript, 1041 (possible page no.) Folio 43; and a second record Manuscript 1543, folio 74. At the very beginning (or end) of the book there should be an explanation of notations or abbreviations.
by Katrina Whitaker G2G6 Mach 3 (38.6k points)
Thanks, Katrina; you're right.

Next question: What is the Harleian MSS [assume "manuscript"]?
A 5 second google search revealed this:

Maybe you can get more info from there.
Thank you.

I need another research area like another hole in the head, but I'm getting pulled into this Hicks mystery and can't seem to resist it...
Jillaine, join the crowd. We feel for you!
+8 votes
I think ob. Is short for obit and they are telling you the year of death in terms of the reign of the King or Queen.

So ob.2 H7 would be "died in the second year of the reign of Henry the Seventh" ie 1487.

Ob. 38 H8 is "died in the 38th year of the reign of Henry VIII" ie 1547.

There is a simple timeline of English monarchs here:
by Joe Farler G2G6 Pilot (145k points)
edited by Joe Farler
Thank you, Joe.
+7 votes
There's a helpful regnal year calculator here


just fill in the name of the monarch and the year and it will give you the date
by Monica Edmunds G2G6 Mach 3 (36.0k points)

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