What are the Paston Letters?

The Paston Letters is a remarkable collection of letters and other documents surviving from the 15th to the 17th century, between different members of the Paston family, their staff, their friends, their business colleagues and also a number of legal documents.

Whilst we've begun here by referring to them in the singular, they are not all held as a single collection today. Nevertheless, we can think of the letters as being a magnificent and unique record of a family's correspondence in a time gone by, giving an insight into medieval life in a way which no other set of documents does.

If you want to read a selection of the letters in a modern translation, then there are various recent publications available. You can find our selection listed in the 'References and Bibliography' section on the drop-down menu from 'The Paston Letters' heading.

We're also putting a selection below from the 1872-1875 edition as published under the editorship of James Gairdner. These use the original language of the letters, so can be difficult to read. However, we've attached a number of notes and are experimenting with a 'translation' system that will give access to the modern English words. There's only a few letters in place at present, but we plan to develop things over time. Click the tabs at the bottom of the pages and then hover your cursor over the words to access these facilities. We're also hoping to add some further analytical facilities.

There is a great deal of refining to do - those working on the documents are all volunteers and we welcome others to help. You'll find in the drop-down menu for each letter some of our attempts to help with understanding. The last of the options, where we've completed it, is called 'The Letter Today?'. This is our attempt to put the letter into modern colloquial English. If you think we've got it wrong, please use the 'Contact Us' on the front page or join the Forum where you can share your views on what's on the site.

However, there is generally enough in place for an understanding of the letter to be gained. Further help on understanding may be gained by using the University of Michigan's Middle English Dictionary.


Margaret Paston to John Paston, 6th July 1453

Sir John Paston to John Paston, April 1467

Margaret Paston to Sir John Paston, 12th September 1469

Sir John Paston to Margaret Paston, 18th April 1471

John Howard, The Duke of Norfolk, to John Paston, August 1485

Sir Edward Bedingfield to John Paston, 16th May 1487

William Paston to John Staynford, AD 1425

Nicholas, Prior of Bromholm, to William Paston, AD 1425

Sir John Fastolf to Henry Inglose and John Berney, after AD 1440

John Gyne to John Paston, circa AD 1435-6

Agnes Paston to William Paston, AD 1436/40

William Paston to unidentified lord, AD 1436

Margaret Paston to John Paston, after 1440

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 28th September 1443

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 8th July 1444

Margaret Paston to John Paston, April 1448

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 19th May 1448

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 1449

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 15th February 1449

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 28th February 1449

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 2nd April, 1449

James Gloys: A Memorandum about Oxnead and Friar Hawteyn, 1443-9

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 12th March 1450

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 3rd March 1451

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 15th March 1451

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 30th March 1451

Agnes Paston to John Paston c.1451

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 3rd June probably 1451

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 1st July 1451

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 5th November 1452

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 16th April, probably 1452

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 4th July 1452

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 20th April 1453

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 15the October, perhaps 1453

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 29th January, perhaps 1454

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 30th January perhaps 1453

Margaret Paston to John Paston, perhaps 1st February, 1454

John Bocking to John Paston, 15th May 1456

John Bocking to John Paston, 7th June 1456

Margaret Paston to John Paston, Sept, about 1459

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 21st October 1460

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 29th October 1460

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 25th November 1460

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 1st March, probably 1461

Margaret Paston to John Paston, June 1461

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 9th July 1461

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 15th July 1461

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 18th July 1461

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 2nd December 1461

John Paston Junior to His Father, probably May-June, 1462

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 3rd December 1461

Margaret Paston to John Paston, 29th April 1459

John Paston to Sir John Paston, 21st September 1472

John Paston to Sir John Paston, 16th October 1472

Sir John Paston to John Paston, 4th November 1472

John Paston to Sir John Paston, 24th November 1472

Marjory Brews to John Paston, February, 1477

T. Grigges to Sir John Paston, 2nd February 1489