Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983
Wills of Three John Merrells - Chapter IV,
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.
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.
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
spellingdifferences from the originals, and inconsistencies
with themselves. But in all essentials the phraseology
is faithfully preserved.
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.
you have further information on the book, "A Merrill
Memorial" and would like to share it with others,