CAHMS archive volunteers on paleography course

Every week a group of CAHMS volunteers meets to work on our extensive document archive; at Downes in summer, and in the museum in the cold of winter. They read through documents, extracting key facts like names, dates and places which are then indexed on our Modes computer system to make them searchable for researchers. Our documents are a catholic mixture, anything from 1600 indentures to 1970s planning applications.

The older documents are difficult to read, and some training in paleography (the study of old handwriting) is necessary to do so with success. Recently CAHMS sent two of its volunteers, Gill Ware and Roxana Kelsey, on a beginners paleography course run by John Booker at the Devon Archives and Local Studies Service – the former Devon Record Office at Sowton. The course lasted 6 weeks at one day a week, and was supplemented by a considerable amount of homework. By the end of it Gill and Roxana had received a good grounding in dealing with English language documents from late Elizabethan times onwards, including those in Secretary Hand. DALSS occasionally runs more advance paleography courses, in English and Latin.

The illustration shown above is a 1700 indenture from the CAHMS collection. It is by no means the most difficult example in the collection, but fairly typical of the documents of the period. This is Gill and Roxana’s transcription of it, with some of the 18th century contractions replaced with modern English:

1  This Indenture made the nineteenth Day of December in the twelfth year of
2  the Reign of our Sovereign Lord William the third by the grace of God of England Scotland
3  France & Ireland King Defender of the Faith etc Between John Keagle of Crediton in the County of
4  Devon Joiner of the one part And Jonathan Ivie of the City of Exeter Merchant of the other part
5  Witnesseth that the said John Keagle for and in Consideration of the sum of five shillings of lawful
6  money of England to him in hand paid by the said Jonathan Ivie at & before their sealing and delivery hereof
7  The Receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged Hath granted bargained sold And by these presents doth grant
8  bargain & sell unto the said Jonathan Ivie & his Assignes All these two Messuages & Tenements with the appurtenances
9  situate lying & being in the East Town of Crediton aforesaid heretofore in the possession of one Henry Ford his Under
10  Tenant or Under Tenants lately in the possession of one Robert Pottle his Under Tenant or Under Tenants since in the
11  possession of Andrew Maunder as Tenants Agnes Dicks widow deceased late Mother of the said Jonathan Ivie formerly
12  called Agnes Ivie & now in the several possessions of Grace Kelland widow Jeffery Lidden Roger Burridge Charles
13  Edbury John Hore & Richard Maunder as Tenants to the said John Keagle & of the said John Keagle together
14  with all & all manner of Houses Edifices Buildings Courtilages Gardens Orchards Lands Hedges Ditches
15  Hedgerows ways profits Comodified Advantages Emoluments Herediments and appurtenances whatsoever to the
16  same Messuages & Tenements & either of them belonging or in any wise appertaining or heretofore used occupied enjoyed
17  esteemed granted or reputed as part parcel or member of the same or any part thereof And the Reversion &
18  Reversions Remainder & Remainders Rents Suites & Services of all & singular the said premises To have
19  & to hold the said two Messuages or Tenements & all & singular other the said premises hereby granted or
20  herein or hereby meant mentioned or intended to be granted unto the said Jonathan Ivie and his Assignes
21  from the first day of this Instant Month of December for and during the full & whole & term & time of one
22  whole year thenceforth next Ensuing fully to be complete & ended Yielding and paying therefore
23  unto the said John Keagle or his heirs the Rent or Sum of sixpence at the Feast of St Michael
24  the archangel now next Ensuing if demanded In witness whereof the parties first above named
25  have to these presents Interchangeably set their hands & seals Yeven the Day & year first
26  above written                             1700