Ego Ricrd Pykeryng


New Member
Below is a link to the will of Richard Pickering 1330-1391 of Oswaldkirk, photographed in varying shades of luminosity by the Borthwick Institute. I think I could understand the Latin if I dig deep enough into what's left from my schooldays, but I'm having difficulty with the writing. I'm not asking for a translation but would like to know if he was married and had any children, and if so what were their names and did they inherit. Pykeryng 1391 York will.pdf?dl=0

The first line contains Ego Ricrd Pykeryng, and is that Agnes a few words later?
On the fifth and sixth lines we see Robto, but there's no mention of filio.
The executors seem to be Thomas de Danby de --cton and Adam de Helmeslay.

I'm thinking of buying Latin for Local & Family Historians by Denis Stuart. Do you recommend it?

Thanks, Hazel


I have that Book and yes it is good, but as i was a complete Novice was baffling. I am doing a Duolingo Course (Free) you have to pay for more Advanced Lessons, but as you have learnt before (i never did at School) as was not an option. But i am Enjoying Duolingo, Fun and sense of Accomplishment, and slowly learning, which is an Achivement as i am useless at Languages.


Civis Illustris
1 … Ego Ric[hard]us Pykeryng no[m]i[n]e meo & no[m]i[n]e Agnet[is] ux[or]is mee … [I, Richard Pickering, in my name and in the name of Agnes my wife]
2 [date, 1391]
3 [body to be buried in the church of the blessed Mary in York. A gown of worsted to the church in the name of mortuary dues]
4 [more bequests to the church and friars]
5 … It[e]m Rob[er]to s[er]vienti meo xiij s iiij d [Item to Robert my servant, 13s 4d.] It[e]m Joh[ann]e s[er]vienti mee vj s viijd …. [Item to Joan my servant 6s 8d and some items of household equipment (I am away from home, no dictionaries to hand)]
6 … It[e]m lego Cecilie s[er]vienti mee unam tunicam de russeto fururato [Item I leave to Cecily my servant one tunic of russet, trimmed with fur (and something else, no dictionary). Item Rob[er]to s[er]vienti meo … [Item to Robert my servant …]
7 [... To Beatrix Attegate[?] a tunic and a kirtle. To Cecily my servant one bed.]
8 [wax to be burnt around my body. Chaplains to celebrate mass for my soul and that of my wife.]
9,10 [Residue to executors to dispose as they see fit. Executors Thomas
11 de Danby de Wicton & Adam de Helmeslay. No witnesses named]
12,13 [Probate clause]


New Member
Wow, thank you so much, Civis Illustris! Are you the author of the other book with the similar title to the one above: Making Sense of Latin Documents for Family & Local Historians? If so, and if I decide to buy a Latin self-help book, it would only be right to go for yours!

Unfortunately the transcription / translation of the will throws up more questions than answers. Am I to assume that Agnes is already dead or is the couple in some kind of medieval suicide pact? If she's still living, she would surely be the first to inherit? If not, the children would inherit, but they've either been disinherited or they don't exist. (I did hazard a guess that Roberto was a servant, but the script and abbreviation caused me to doubt myself.)

The reason I sent off for the will was to try and fill the age gap between the 8th and 9th generations of the Pickerings of Oswaldkirk. Richard was the heir but it's possible that the descent went through one of his brothers, if Richard died before them, but they all seem to have entered the church. Roger was variously a clerk, a rector and the master of St. Mary Magdalene Hospital in Ripon (if all these titles refer to the same man), but does that make him a clergyman, i.e. celibate?

Apologies if this is not the right forum to ask questions regarding the interpretation of Latin documents, but your feedback would be appreciated.


Civis Illustris
HazelFrance, yes indeed, that snappy title was the publisher's idea. not mine. To be honest, if you buy it, you will indeed have to dig deep into your school Latin, but I think it will come back soon enough. I failed O-level Latin but soon picked up speed when I wanted to read probates etc.

I have never seen anyone make a will in the name of himself and his wife, but perhaps this was Richard's way of saying that Agnes agreed with how he was disposing of his estate. I don't think she would automatically have had first claim on his estate. In the south of England there was a custom that the wife got a third, the children got a third, and the remaining third was "the dead's part" which went to charitable purposes. I don't think there was an equivalent in the north of England.

I did wonder whether Richard was a priest, having servants but no children. But he may have had children who died. I don't think celibacy was the rule in England even before the reformation, but I am no expert.