The Wills of Our Ancestors: A Guide for Family and Local Historians

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 208 pages
Author: S. Raymond
Year: 2012
ISBN: 9781848847859
Other: b&w photos, appendixes
Publisher: Pen & Sword

What are wills, and how can they be used for family and local history research? How can you interpret them and get as much insight from them as possible? They are key documents for exploring the lives of our ancestors, their circumstances, and the world they knew. This practical handbook is the essential guide to understanding them.

Wills expert Stuart Raymond traces the history and purpose of probate records and guides readers through the many pitfalls and possibilities these fascinating documents present. He describes the process of probate, gives a detailed account of the content of the various different types of record, and advises readers on how they can be used to throw light into the past. They offer factual evidence that no genealogist or local historian can afford to ignore.

In a series of concise, fact-filled chapters he explains how wills came into being, who made them and how they were made, how the probate system operates, how wills and inventories can be found, and how much can be learned from them. In addition to covering probate records in England and Wales, he includes the Channel Islands, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland.

This introduction is aimed primarily at family historians who are interested in the wills of particular individuals – who are seeking proof of descent –and local historians who are interested in the wealth of local historical information that can be gathered from them.

Dickens on Wills - Affection - or Hatred?
- The Value of Probate Records
- The Survival of Wills
- The Origin of Wills
- Probate Law
- Some Limitations and Biases
- Reconstructing Historical Communities: a Case Study
- Some Other Topics for Study
1. Who Made Wills? And Why Did They Make Them?
2. What Happened After Death? The Process of Probate
- Probate Courts
- Executors and Administrators
3. What Can I Find in a Will?
- Personal Documents
- Testators
- Dates
- Religious Clauses
- The Process of Inheritance
- Signatures, Witnesses and Probate
- Goods in Wills
4. What Can I Find in a Probate Inventory?
- The History of Inventories
- Appraisers and their Work
- Contents of Inventories
5. What Can I Find in Other Probate Records?
- Litigation
- Act Books
- Commissions
- Administration Bonds
- Probate Accounts
6. Where and How Can I Find Probate Records?
- Indexes and Catalogues
- Prerogative Court Archives: Canterbury and York
- Other Probate Courts
- Digitization
- Search Strategies
7. Post-1858 Wills
8. Probate Records Outside of England and Wales: the Channel Islands, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland
- Introduction
- Channel Islands
- Ireland
- Isle of Man
- Scotland
9. Where Can I Find Other Sources of Probate Information?
- Estate Records
- Death Duty Registers
- Bank of England Will Extracts
- Navy Officer Wills
- Soldiers' Wills
- Roman Catholic Wills
- The British India
- Other Small Collections
Further Reading
Appendix 1. Summary List of pre-1858 Probate Cpurts in England
Appendix 2. Handwriting and Latin
Appendix 3. Some Terms used in Probate Records
Appendix 4. Latin Glossary
Appendix 5. Legislation Affecting Probate
Subject Index
Place Name Index
Personal Name Index

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The Wills of Our Ancestors: A Guide for Family and Local Historians


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