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Pre-1800 wills

(9 Posts)
mollie Sun 26-Jan-14 17:02:29

On the basis that I don't know everything and am never too old to learn, can I ask if anyone has had any success locating pre-1800 wills? I've never found any and assumed my kin weren't the will-writing sort. However, just in case I've been remiss I'd be grateful to hear your experiences. I'm looking for Buckinghamshire wills btw...

durhamjen Sun 26-Jan-14 17:55:19

I have a book called the Wills of Our Ancestors.
The place to look is the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, where I am sure you have looked, but it depends on where in Buckinghamshire you are looking for.
Apparently you can even get information from the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and Eton College!
The Consistory Court of Lincoln has information about Aylesbury and Buckungham.
I found a will I wanted to look at for 1860, and sent for a copy of it. The name I wanted had been crossed out, very early redaction! It was because it was a commoner who had married a lord. That's not in Buckinghamshire, by the way, just a bit of information that you will not need.
I think pre 1800, people who did not make wills still had to have a list of possessions and have someone to organise passing goods and chattels on to family, so there were quite often inventories even if there were no wills.
Which online sites are you on? I have both Ancestry and findmypast but I have just discovered that myheritage is quite good, too.

mollie Sun 26-Jan-14 18:09:24

Thank you. I gathered Bucks was a bit complicated by having several different authorities for wills so thanks for confirming that. Are inventories indexed separately?

Hadn't heard of myheritage so I'll go and take a look. I tend to use ancestry for a while until I hit enough blanks to make me cancel my subscription. Wan't overly impressed with Findmypast but I know you need to be a bit sensitive to the transcription process for all sites...

durhamjen Sun 26-Jan-14 23:19:12

One of the sites, can't remember which, but I think it's Ancestry, has Kingston upon Hull written as Kinston upon Hull. I find it by searching for Hull, but it still annoys me.
Another thing is that one of my ancestors is called Bowes Milner. Both Ancestry and Findmypast had him as Bawes Milner. I have sent both of them proof that the name is Bowes, but only Findmypast has changed it.
My husband bought me a subscription for findmypast before he died two years ago, so I haven't stopped it yet.
I bought him the one for Ancestry. I'll have to stop one when I can no longer afford it. They do get rather expensive, don't they? I seem to find more on findmypast, but I think it depends on which area you live in.

Elegran Sun 26-Jan-14 23:47:09

National Archives has wills going right back to 1100

I found photocopies of 17C wills of my ancestors. They are copies of the actual documents, and the images can be downloaded. Mine cost £3.50 each, but that was a few years ago so they could be more now. The early ones are not easy to read!

mollie Sun 26-Jan-14 23:57:07

They are still £3.50 which I think is good value, and yes, they are tough to decipher aren't they! I've spent hours searching the NA today without any luck. I think I've got to accept my lot didn't leave wills! What I'm really looking for is a connection between two individuals and thought a mention in a will might such luck! Lol!

Elegran Mon 27-Jan-14 00:09:17

The toughest I had was one in lawyer's legal Latin jargon, full of abbreviations, written in terrible handwriting with blots, and badly faded.

The most touching were the wills of a family of ag labs over just a few years, leaving a shilling here and a shilling there, the list of names of brothers and sisters getting shorter in each will.

Another ancestress left the equivalent of half a million when converted to modern money. She was left a life usage of the family home by her husband, to go to a son on her death, so none of her wealth was in property. This was at a time when the Civil War was raging, so she must have had it all in a strongroom with a very good lock. He also left houses and farms to three other sons.

mollie Mon 27-Jan-14 09:32:43

Elegran, that permission to use the family home reminded me of an agreement I saw yesterday. It was a tenancy rather than a will but it allowed a woman to have the use of several rooms in a house and 'to sit by the fire in the kitchen at any time'! Lol!

Elegran Mon 27-Jan-14 14:32:42

One of the wills I have gives an old mother there right to do those things, and also have a stack of logs delivered, to draw water from the well and cook her food, and to come and go as she wished. You do wonder what would have happened to her without express permission - having to sit in her cold corner with a bit of bread and cheese while the family hog the fire and eat roast beef?

Mind you, I don't think my semi-millionairess would have stood for that. She sounds like the kind of matriarch who would have everyone quaking in their shoes.