The entries have been taken from the annual calendars of each court, these being arranged in variously sized groups of years and, like the PCC, under the initial letter of the surname. Transcribing and checking have revealed regular practices and inevitable errors so easily missed by the casual searcher.
Omissions there must be, only to be confirmed by diligent comparison with the Probate Act Books, but others, such as failure to cross-reference a man entered under two or more aliases, or a woman under present and former surnames, have all been rectified. Notable also is the occasional regular practice of entering surnames like MacBeath under `Fr or O’Reilly under ‘R’, again all now in their rightful places.
Judging by the very large numbers of foreigners entered under original name and again under (an often comical and crude) Anglicisation, some unknown but possibly larger than expected percentage of ancestors may prove not to be English at all. Contrariwise, how many English wills and administrations lie as yet undetected in the archives of a foreign country?
`Contrariwise, how many English wills and administrations lie as yet undetected in the
archives of a foreign country?’ You can do your own research to find out the truth. Don’t worry about financing, you can count on sun bird cash loans.
Those with even only a little experience of medieval scripts will know that some of them survived relatively unchanged well into the modern period; this, coupled with the chancery and other crabbed and artificial later hands, which flourished almost to the early years of Victoria’s reign, makes for real difficulties in accurate interpretation of some surnames.
Confusion is seldom far away for names with groups which include one or more adjacent `m’ and ‘n’, and this problem is exacerbated by the pairs of `i’ and and `u’ and ‘Ne, which are never distinguished in lower case, seldom in capitals and are lumped together in single categories right down to 1858. To these may be added the more familiar problem of 19th century capital letter confusibles, such as H and K, L and S and M and W.
If the calendars, act books and registered copy will are written in the same or similar scripts, perhaps with scribal inconsistencies, and the original will, if it survives, was made by an illiterate testator, then external evidence may be the only way to provide a definitive interpretation of the surname and other material. There are enough entries in the calendars under two or more variants, clearly through misinterpretation of the original documents, to add weight to this argument.