Providing historical probate information for people from the Henley area

Guidance for Transcribing Wills


The purpose of this guidance is to ensure a consistent approach both between ourselves in the Henley probate group and with the Oxfordshire Probate Group who are also involved in transcribing Henley wills.  Once you have transcribed the document using these guidelines, then you can proceed to upload the transcript and key information to the website. These documents have been source from either the Oxfordshire Records Office (ORO) or The National Archives (TNA).


Language, Spelling, Format and illegible provisions

The aim is to reproduce the text as accurately as possible, maintaining the line layout of the original document.  To retain the line breaks to mirror the original lines of the will, you need to access the second tool bar row by pressing the rightmost button on the single row.  On the left hand button of the second row, there is a dropdown box, select the preformatted option.  Start typing and press enter at end of each line to ensure lines of will are preserved.   If there is more than one page to the will, you can indicate page breaks; see the Revised Guidance in the Posts of the website. Within the Transcript area, at the bottom right hand corner of this panel there is a triangular pattern.  If you click on this and drag the corner it will expand the entry area.


Retain the original spelling, however idiosyncratic or inconsistent.  Also retain the original punctuation, if it exists, marginal headings, paragraphing and capital letters (however odd their distribution).  Nothing is to be added or omitted without acknowledgement.  Contractions should be indicated with square brackets round the missing letters – such as afors[ai]d, Exec[uto]r etc.


Do not add your own punctuation or correct the spelling.  Where the document has been copied from an original, the ‘scribe’ will have marked the start of a new line on the original document with a / or \ then include this punctuation.


Any editorial alterations made by you as transcriber should be italicised within square brackets, e.g. [illegible] or [change of handwriting] or [missing words].   Similarly deletions should be noted and transcribed by using the ‘striking through’ button in the single tool bar.  For items damaged you should indicate this as italicised within square brackets, in the same manner, [damaged] [blot] [watermark] etc. with a note in the author’s notes e.g. right hand edge damaged by water/fire if appropriate.


Insertions and interlineations should be distinguished by including the inserted word within square brackets marked with the symbol ↑ such as [↑surviving].  This symbol can be accessed on the second row of the tool bar by accessing the symbol key.


If you have any doubts about a word or number, insert an italic question mark immediately in front of it (without a space) and within square brackets, thus [?]word.


Dates should be recorded as they appear in the text e.g. day/month/year i.e. 16 February 1734 but not 16th February 1734.   Numbers should be given as in original (whether Roman, Arabic, or a mixture of the two).  If necessary, insert modern number in square brackets.


We are not intending to transcribe either the signature/witness clause and probate clause at the end of the will since the relevant content of these clauses will have been included within the extracted data.  However any other wording on the will, added later, such as a codicil or other should be transcribed.


The will transcript and other entries should be published on the website when completed, they can be updated at any time and when checked this can be indicated in the appropriate box.