The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Pondering Paleography and Soliciting Transcriptions, p. II

When I published a post last week here on the Beehive (see here) about a medieval document in our collections, I thought that it would be quite some time before we got to the bottom of it. Boy, was I wrong! By chance, my post was picked up by Steve Annear at the Boston Globe and, just like that, we were off and running with many people providing insights. 

To summarize, I was wrong about the language of the document. It turns out that it is medieval Latin, not Middle English. However, to vindicate my assumption ever so slightly, one commenter asserts that it is written using "stereotypically English-looking letter forms." He goes on to note that the document is heavily abbreviated. 

A few people commenting on my post even provided transcriptions and translations of the document, while others provided background on the geographic area and surnames mentioned in the text. All within just a couple of days!

Based on the input from commenters, I think we have a rough transcription here. For anyone that wishes to contest this transcription, please keep a couple of things in mind: all commenters who provided input are working only from a low-resolution image contained in my original post; and that I may have mis-typed some of these Latin terms and so some error may rest with me. 

"Omnibus Christi fidelibus ad quos presens scriptum pervenerit, Willhelmus, filius Agathe de Bromlegh saluten in domino. Novertis me concesse, dimisisse, et in perpetuum de me et heredibus meis qui quietum clamasse Johann de Wylmschurst heredibus suis et assignatis totum jus et damnum quod habui ut aliquo modo habere potui in sexdecim acris terre cum pertinentiis in Bromlegh quas Ricardus de Bylinghurst dedit Agathe filie sue. Ita quod ego dictus Willhelmus heredes mei, nec aliquis per me vel nomine nostro aliquid juris vel clamium in praedictis sexdecim acris terre cum pertinentiis exigere clamare vel vendicare non poterimus in perpetuum. In cuius rei testimonium huic quiete clamntie sigillum meum apposui. Hiis testibus Johanne de Stondebrig, Ricardo de Grimyngfelde, Ricardo de Rykhurst, Johanne de Loxhie, Willelmo Govebrok, et aliis. Datum apud Bromlegh, die Jovis in festo Ascensionis domini, anno regni Regis Edwardi tertii a conquestu undecimo."

This Latin text translates, approximately, to

"To all the faithful of Christ to whom the present writing shall come, William son of Agatha of Bromlegh wishes health in the Lord. Everyone should know that I am conceding, demising, and in perpetuity for me and my heirs quitclaiming to John dy Bylingehurst and his heirs and assigns all the rights and claims I have, or might be able to have at any time, in 16 acres of land with appurtenances in Bromlegh, which Richard de Bylinghurst gave to Agatha his daughter. Therefore I the said William and my heirs, or anyone acting in my name, give up the right to make any claim to the 16 acres and its appurtenences, or any right to sell it. In which statement I posiiton my seal to this quitclaim. These witnesses: John de Stondebrig, Richard de Grummyngfelde, Richard de Rykhurst, John de Leghe, William Govebrok, and others. Dated at Bromlegh, on the Thursday after the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, in the 11th year of the reign of King Edward III after the conquest."

So, it looks like we have a fairly common land transfer captured in this document. For more about the land in question and the names involved, please refer to the comments in the original blog post to see what our readers have to say. If, at some point, I attempt to summarize all of the information provided, it will show up here on the Beehive.

Finally, thank you to the Boston Globe, and especially to all who showed such quick interest in this little piece of vellum! We now have just a little bit more knowledge about our collections and about medieval writing samples. Stay tuned for more medieval mysteries from the MHS. Cheers!

permalink | Published: Wednesday, 1 June, 2016, 12:00 AM


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