Ed. T. S. Haskett (University of Victoria, Canada) in progress
Will of Thomas Gernun, 30 June 1248.
For this early example of a will the decision that each individual bequest should start a new line prompted the scribe to use a narrow piece of parchment in portrait format, thus significantly reducing the amount of space wasted. Many of the bequests (++++) concern the disposal of acres of standing corn, either wheat or oats, rather than the land itself, but the first bequest (++++), to Thomas' wife, does record him having left her land, in an unspecified place, perhaps the same land as that said to have been given to her before Thomas went on pilgrimage (++++).
A striking feature of the document is the way in which it has been altered. The two lines crossed out in the middle (+++++) concern bequests that are covered in the four-line addition over erasure immediately above (++++), where a fourth purpose is included, namely celebrations [of mass] for the testator's soul; it seems likely that the original entry, now erased, concerned these celebrations, but that it was clumsily phrased, perhaps in a way that failed to convey the testator's wishes, and hence the redrafted form. In the list of the executors there are alterations and additions; the first erased name may well have been "William subprior of Durham", who is the subject of the final addition, where his powers as chief executor are spelled out in a way that simply naming him first among the executors was later seen as insufficient.
It may be that the subprior's role as executor would have brought this document into the monks' archive, but the will includes (+++++) a bequest of a rent from property in Claypath Durham to support a lamp in the cathedral's western Galilee chapel. This property lay in the parish of St Nicholas, and hence presumably Thomas' bequests naming it (++++, ++++).
There is no sealing clause, and it is impossible to establish whose was the right-hand, missing, seal. That on the left is the testator's and from it can be established the correct form of his surname and that his forename was Thomas (++++).