What was Charlbury like 400 years ago? Or even only 200 years ago? We can’t answer these questions unless we look at the lives of ordinary people of the time. There are several invaluable sources to do that. The one we chose to investigate were the wills and other documents written after someone had died. But there are almost 400 people in Charlbury who have left these records (from 1524 to 1732), with well over 700 documents to read. So in 2013 a group of us learnt to read the handwriting of the time, and started to look for, read, and write up in Word what we found.
These documents are fascinating, telling us a lot about the people then, their houses and trades, their families and even their thoughts about their relatives as they wrote their wills.
See below for some examples of the stories we have discovered.
Sadly we have been unable to meet during the Covid pandemic but work has continued to transcribe the Manor Court records and members have undertaken their own personal researches.