While wills (variously termed ‘last will
and testament’, ‘latter will and testament’, ‘settlement’ and ‘disposition’)
tell us the wishes of our forebears with regard to the disposal
of their possessions after their death, testaments tell us what
these possessions actually were and even how much they were worth.
The latter can (perhaps somewhat fancifully) be regarded as a camera,
giving us snapshots of a way of life long gone.
However, you will soon discover when you
read through these documents, the earlier ones especially, that
they are written in the Scots language and contain many words and
expressions with which you are probably unfamiliar. Also, you will
notice that spellings were at all times erratic, the use of capital
letters was indiscriminate, and punctuation, as we know it, was
virtually non-existent. And you may have a few problems with the
handwriting. But do not be put off! The answers to the Frequently
Asked Questions opposite have been designed to give you some understanding
of this fascinating source.
Alternatively, go directly to the Scottish
Inventory of Robert Peacock (National Archives
The first few paragraphs in the testament
of the engineer, Thomas Telford (National Archives of Scotland,
Margaret Fox (SCAN)