like to leave their possessions and property to family and friends when
they die. To make sure that their wishes are known and followed, people
write down their bequests in a document known as a will. However, some
people die without making a will and others have so many things that the
executors (the people in charge of making sure the terms of the will are
carried out) find their job very difficult. In cases like this, an inventory
can be drawn up.
is a list of all the property and goods owned by a person - it even includes
debts! In the past, inventories were drawn up by friends of the person
who had died or people who worked in the same kind of job. There were
no rules about what had to be included in an inventory so some are very
long and give details about every possession whilst others are very short.
inventories can be very difficult. After all, these documents are over
400 years old! People
in Tudor Times used a different style of handwriting, they spelt things
differently and sometimes they use different words to the ones we use
today. But they are not impossible to read. The best thing to do is to
try reading the words out loud - it often makes more sense this way. If
you get really stuck you can use the translations but try to have a go
on your own first. If you need to find out what a word means have a look
at the glossary terms. Good luck!!
A large number
of inventories from the Tudor period have survived and they can tell us
a lot about the people who were living at that time. Although they look
quite boring they contain very useful information, such as how people
dressed, what things they used, how many rooms they had in their houses,
what they did for a living, what animals they kept and what kind of things
could be bought in a shop.
trouble is that not everyone left an inventory. In fact, it was only people
who had anything worth something that left a will or an inventory - in
other words, it was just rich people. But, just like today, there were
big differences in the lifestyles of different rich people in the Tudor
You are going
to find out more about some Tudor people by looking at their inventories
but first a word of warning!