Looking for someone good at reading old English wills from 1600s re: Thomas Gardner

+5 votes
I downloaded a copy of the will of Thomas Gardner, husbandman, of Sherbourne, Dorset, England dated 1623.  I am having difficulty reading it and wondered if anyone would be willing to assst in transcribing it.

I believe this may be the will of the father of Thomas Gardner (c 1590-1674) who immigrated to Salem, Essex, Massachusetts and is ancestor to many people that descend from the various families of the founders of Nantucket.

I believe it mentions sons Robert, John, Thomas and daughters Margaret and Catherine.  It mentions a brother in law, which would help determine his wife's parentage.
WikiTree profile: Thomas Gardner
in Genealogy Help by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (428k points)

Having looked at this will, I could see where it's possible that Thomas who d 1623 could be father of Salem, MA immigrant Thomas.  Thomas was the youngest son; not much for him to stick around for. 

What disturbs me some is the reference at the end to his friend Thomas Gardiner, who with John Miller and Henry Durnford are appointed overseers. Who's this second Thomas?

That said, it's the following year that a Thomas Gardiner shows up in Massachusetts. So the timing is interesting. In another g2g thread about this man, I've asked John, a Gardiner researcher who has been living in the Sherborne records, to check to see if the Thomas and Margaret married there, and who start baptizing children there, disappear from the records around 1623/4.

The Sherborne marriage and baptism records are on ancestry.com (international version for those of us in the US)-- Helen Ford found some of the same records that John did. Would be interesting to see if we can find records for those named in Thomas' will.

From a review of all three wills you sent me, it SUGGESTS a POSSIBLE family looking like this:

  1. John Gardiner m. Margaret ______; he died in 1570 (date of will anyway); she survived him. Children from his will:
    1. John Gardiner
    2. Thomas Gardiner; possibly he who m. Agnes _____; if so, he left will in 1623; she left will in 1634; children mentioned in Thomas' will:
      1. Robert - only child mentioned in mother’s 1634 will
      2. John
      3. Thomas; possibly the PGM immigrant who m. 1617 in Sherborne Margaret Frier; baptized a couple of sons; then emigrated 1624 to Massachusetts, settling initially at Cape Ann then Salem, Massachusetts; m2 Damaris ____. 
      4. Margaret m. ____ Edson?
      5. Katherine m. Dollyer?
    3. Edith Gardiner
    4. ?din (daughter) Gardiner

2 Answers

+1 vote
Scan it and post it to the profile as a picture. Then link to it from this question. People can then work on it collaboratively.
by Sheila Smail G2G6 Mach 2 (22.2k points)
Thanks, Sheila.  Since I paid for the copy from the British Public Records Office at the National Archives, I'm not sure if that would be considered 'kosher'.  They make their money off of people paying for scanned copies of the documents.  If anyone has an opinion on the legality of this, I'd be interested in hearing.  Thanks.
Hi Darlene,

If you email the national archives and explain in the email that you're having trouble reading the will, they may email back with a translation, I know some of the archive sites do this for free if you've paid for the download of the image and find it hard to read.
All the best

Thanks, Billy.  I didn't know they might do this.  A couple people volunteered to try and  figure it out.  They agree it's quite difficult to read!
As an update on this, I did what Billy suggested, i.e. emailed the National Archives. They do NOT help with transcription/translation...
+2 votes

The alternative is to hire someone who specializes in these Wills , which is a mixture of English and Old Latin in the probabtum part . To do it properly would also iinvolve a proper transcription which does take a bit of time . I know it will take me about 8 hours, depending on the scan and the condition , sometimes, to do them for people. 

There are tutorials at the TNA : 




by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (859k points)
Thanks, Maggie.  I'll pass on hiring someone.  In the past, I've posted on forums and worked with others that have an interest, i.e. possible ancestral connection, to decipher/transcribe wills.  I've heard from a couple people that are willing to give it a shot.  As you know,these old wills are our best chances, many times, to try and make or prove a connection.
Darlene l, did you ever decipher the will? I'd be happy to take a look if you still need help.
Jillaine, I'm not sure how I missed your post, but just came across it now.  I was down in Australia when you sent it, so that probably has something to do with it!  ;)

I would love you to have a look at it.  It mentions his brother-in-law, Robert (can't read the last name), which would be excellent for tracking down his wife's family...

I'd need to send it via email, so drop me an email...
P.S.  I also have a copy of a memorandum regarding the will of Agnes Gardner (spelled Gardiner in the record) of 1635 which needs deciphering.  Ditto a will of John Gardner of Sherbourne dated 1571 which mentions sons Thomas and John and could well be the father or grandfather of Thomas who immigrated to Massachusetts.  Little did I know when I ordered them from the British National Archives how hard a time I would have with reading them!  Ha!
oh dear. did you ever send this to me? sheesh. two years later... I checked my email (which goes way.... back) and didn't find it. This profile has come to my attention again...

Looking back through sent emails, I sent them to you on 20 July 2016 . . .I'll send them again -- if you'll look at them and get back to me with comments this time!!  wink

Done! (to the best of my ability....)

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