Why was "her" used here?

Wycliffe Bible

In accordance with studylight.org:

"...brother, in a boot makynge nettis. 20 And anoon he clepide hem; and thei leften Zebedee, her fadir, in the boot with hiryd seruauntis, and thei suweden hym. And thei entriden"

I think, that "their" should be used instead.

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In Middle English, "her" means "their". The Modern English "their" actually comes from Old Norse, while the equivalent (and predecessor) of Modern English "her" is "hire".

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    Does that mean that ModE 'their' came from northern dialects of ME which had 'their' in preconquest 1066 Danelaw areas? Or was it just a matter of orthography, simply that it was spelled 'her' but pronounced with a dental fricative 'th'? – Mitch Jul 8 '19 at 18:54
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    @Mitch It was definitely not just a matter of orthography. It was probably more complex than just northern vs southern dialects, but the th-initial forms borrowed from Norse were the ones that eventually won out, and they were more prevalent in the North, so roughly speaking, I’d say yes. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 8 '19 at 19:14

You are right, for modern English.

In Wycliffe's time, the oblique cases of "they" were "her" or "hir", and "hem". "Their" and "them" were not widespread, though I think they were used in some dialects.

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  • Did "they" also have a form without "t" letter? – Anatoliy Sydorov Jul 3 '19 at 13:49
  • oh, eyeballfrog has already answered my question. – Anatoliy Sydorov Jul 3 '19 at 13:56

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