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HomepageWill of Thomas Cullen
Yeoman of Upton 1652-1715
James C. Cullen Jr., Cliff Cullen, Jim Cullen

As an example of the appearance of an actual handwritten will from early 18'th century England, here is a photo of the first page of the will of Thomas Cullen. Thomas was born April 4, 1652 to Gervase and Katherine (Robinson) Cullen at Upton, Nottinghamshire. Thomas would later marry Elizabeth Bennet of Bottesford, Lincolnshire, in 1696. Thomas died April 30, 1715. The handwriting and language used in the document gives one a sense of the difficulty encountered when trying to decipher written materials from such early dates. This particular will has fared better than most in the passage of time. Thomas likely did not write or even sign his own will since, as was commonly found, literacy was not something particularly useful to a yeoman farmer. Many thanks to Cliff Cullen of New Zealand for the forwarded copy of the will of Thomas Cullen. Many thanks also to my father, James Cullen, for his amazing work in transcribing the will in its entirety. He has also provided a useful glossary that defines many of the archaic terms that appear in the will of Thomas Cullen. Further details were extracted from the book "The Rude Forefathers" by Francis H. West, as well as from various other sources. Use the links to explore the complete transcription of the will. We hope this exercise is a help to others who may try to decipher wills found for members of their own families. One will find that the language of these documents are similiar in 17'th and 18'th century England as well as on the American East Coast during the same approximate time period.

Part 1: The Will

Part 2: Inventory

Part 3: Glossary

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