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The Wills of 3 John Merrells
Will of John Merrell 1600
Wherstead and Belstead
John Merrell chart
Will of John Meryell 1551
Will of John Meryell 1528
The Reformation

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    Samuel Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983

The Wills of Three John Merrells - Chapter IV, pp32-47

   The originals of the sixteenth century Suffolk wills, in the Probate Registry office at Ipswich, England, are preserved with a lack of care and system which would be severely criticised in most New England recording offices. All the probate papers of a year are rolled up loosely in a bundle, without regard to order, and tied with a cord. The smaller papers are exposed to danger of loss, and the larger ones are naturally badly worn by reason of loose prejecting edges. Each bundle is supposed to contain the papers of a single year, but many of the bundles are unmarked, and the search for any particular paper is a most discouraging undertaking. The bundles are stored in a vault, in a confused mass.

   The officials look upon the original wills with comparative indifference. In their judgment the recorded copies are evidently of greater importance. Indeed, they said that no one in these days looks beyond the record books, and my persistence in trying to find the original instruments was, they said, very unusual. The copies are indexed, but there is no index to show whether the original wills are still in existence.

   The wills of three John Merrells, probated respectively in 1600, 1552 and 1529, are recorded in old parchment-covered books, and these copies are easily found. The bindings are worm-eaten, and falling apart by reason of broken stitches, but the paper has well withstood the test of time, and the brownish-black ink shows no signs of fading. These copies were evidently made at the time when the wills were proved. Dictionaries were practically unknown, and orthography for this reason was not standardized. As a result the copies show many minor differences in spelling—differences from the originals, and inconsistencies with themselves. But in all essentials the phraseology is faithfully preserved.

   In my copies I have followed literally, line for line, the transcripts in the record books. In the case of the two earlier wills the originals could not be found. In the case of the will of 1600 I was so fortunate as to find the original, but it was so much less legible than the recorded copy that the exact tenor of the instrument is better shown in a copy taken from the pages of the old book of record.

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