I'ANSON international

Notes on Wills
from John Richardson, The Local Historian's Encyclopedia 2nd ed. (1986)
ISBN 0 9503656 7 X
  • Will - concerned real estate such as land and buildings . . . in most of the country primogeniture determined the disposal of real estate
  • Testament - concerned personal estate such as furniture, belongings, crops, debts etc.  In the case of intestacy, personal estate went to the widow and children, or other relatives if none.
  • Probate Courts - based on the parish of the deceased, there was an appropriate probate court under the jurisdiction of an archdeacon, bishop or archbishop.
  • Probate - on presentation of a will the court passed a Probate Act authorising the executors to carry out the provisions of the will.  The court then endored the will and gave a copy to the executors. 
  • Letters of Administration - were granted in cases of intesacy (no will) and the grantees were required to sign a Testamentary of Administration Bond, usually worth twice the estimated value of the estate, promising to administer the estate faithfully. 
  • Inventories -  From 1529 to 1750  executors had to produce an inventory of the effects of the deceased within a year, compiled by two disinterested parties.  These were filed with the will in the records of the court.
  • Women's Wills - Widows and single women were permitted to make wills, but before 1882 married women were not, except with the permission of the husband.  It was considered that a married woman's property belonged to her husband.
  • Since 1858 all copies of Wills and Letters of Administration in England and Wales have been lodged centrally.  The are now in the Principal Registry of the Family Division, Somerset House, The Strand, London.
  • The wills are indexed and many local record offices have copies of the Index of Wills.
  • Somerset House - wills may be consulted and photocopies made for a small charge.
  • District Registrars - make copies of all wills.  These have mostly, but not entirely, been deposited in local records offices.
topRichmondshire Wills IndexNational Probate Index | National Archives Wills | Notes on Wills etc
  Return to Site Map