Author Topic: A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX  (Read 12013 times)

Offline Valda

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A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX
« on: Thursday 03 February 11 20:24 GMT (UK) »

A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX



Click on any of the blue underlined hyperlinks in the guide to view the information you are interested in.



The National Archives podcast IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN: WILLS FOR FAMILY HISTORY is a talk on ‘how to access wills and how you can use them to get a better understanding of what life was really like for your ancestors'.


Modern surveys differ on what proportion of the current population has a will, but even the most optimistic put it at less than half. The National Consumer Council’s research in 2007 not unsurprisingly revealed that older people and those in higher socio-economic groups were more likely to make wills. Given the modern context it isn’t unexpected that most of our ancestors did not leave wills, but where they did they can be very useful and informative documents.


Other than lunatics, convicted traitors and felons, wills could be made by anyone to arrange what they wished to happen to both their personal property and their real estate after their deaths. From 1837 onwards a person had to be of full age, 21 years of age, to make a will. This was reduced in 1970 to 18. The Wills (Soldiers and Sailors) Act 1918 allowed for a soldier on active service or sailor at sea to make a valid will, even though they were under the age of 18. Before 1837 wills could be made by boys from the age of 14 onwards and girls from the age of 12. It was however extremely rare for a minor to make a will. Until the Married Women's Property Act 1882, wives could not make wills without the permission of their husbands. Women in general were far less likely to make wills than men.



THE PROCESS


The Person making and leaving a will is known as the testator (testatrix if female).
A will was normally signed (or a mark made) by the testator and witnessed by two people, who after 1752 were not allowed to be beneficiaries. A codicil (or codicils) was written at a later date and was an additional document, found at the end of the will, which modified the terms of the original document. It needed to be signed and witnessed. 

A Non-cupative will or ‘deathbed will’ was an orally declared will in front of two witnesses. A holographic will was handwritten by the person making the will, signed and dated by them but not witnessed. This sort of will was often found amongst the deceased papers. These types of wills were legal until the Wills Act 1837. In the case of non-cupative wills an exception was made after 1837 for military personnel on active service and merchant seamen.


The testator needed to name executor/executrix (male/female) in the will who were to administer and distribute the estate after death. These executor(s) had to apply to a court to have the validity of the will verified. This process was known as proving the will. The court then issued a document called a grant of probate. Not all wills that were written were necessarily proved by executors, and not all wills that were proved were done so immediately after death. It is possible that events that happened subsequently would cause a will to be proved at a much later date. Admon with will attached maybe such a will. Letters of Administration (Admon) were granted by the court to next of kin when no will was made or could be found, or because the executors were unable to prove the will. Letters of Administration included the name of the deceased, their abode and sometimes their occupation; the date of the admon and post 1858 the date of their death. The name, address/abode and sometimes occupation of the administrator appointed and usually their relationship to the deceased, if they have one, was also included. When a person did not leave a will they were deemed to have died intestate, which was not a problem for most of our ancestors who did not own property or have savings in a bank.  What little they left was divided by their family amicably or not, amongst themselves.


From 1529/30 until 1782 it was necessary for the executor or administrator of the estate to make a list or inventory of the personalty (moveable property) of the deceased. Not all inventories have survived.

A Sentence was a judgement about a disputed will given at the conclusion of litigation. A sentence does not necessarily contain the same details as a will.




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Offline Valda

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A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 03 February 11 20:25 GMT (UK) »

A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX



1858 ONWARDS


The Court of Probate Act 1857 transferred the powers of the church courts as far as wills were concerned to the state. Wills and administrations proved from 12th January 1858 onwards were now to be proved in the newly created Court of Probate. This civil court replaced the many Church of England courts which had previously proved all wills in England. This also meant for the first time one national yearly Calendar index was created for all wills proved and administrations granted in England and Wales. These yearly volumes of indexes, particularly the earlier volumes can provide a great deal of useful information such as names of testators in alphabetical order, dates of death, addresses, occupations and names of executors. From 1858 to 1870, there are separate lists of wills and letters of administration for each year.  From 1871 wills and letters of administration are listed in one alphabetical sequence. The later indexes are less detailed and are computerised from 1996 onwards.


The indexes can be found at

Probate Search Room
First Avenue House in London
42-49 High Holborn
London WC1V 6NP


There you can view and order copies of the wills and administrations. The only place where there is a complete set of calendars (from 1858) is First Avenue House. Most District Probate Registries have calendars covering at least the last fifty years. Before visiting a District Probate Registry to view the calendars it is advisable to contact the Registry beforehand to check what search facilities are available. THE DISTRICT PROBATE REGISTERIES are at Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Ipswich, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and Winchester.


The calendar indexes can also be found on microfiche at other large libraries and archives around the country. This is a list of known places that hold the index (with dates of coverage) on the GENUKI website. Other repositories abroad may also have purchased the microfiches.


Ancestry has the England & Wales, NATIONAL PROBATE CALENDAR (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 indexed online.



You can order copies of wills and administrations by post only from

The Postal Searches and Copies Department
Leeds District Probate Registry
York House
York Place
Leeds LS1 2BA

Tel: +44 (113) 389 6133
Fax: +44 (113) 247 1893



The guide to obtaining copies of probate records and the APPLICATION FORM with instructions


Further information about requesting a search of the indexes and obtaining a copy of a will or administration can be found on HER MAJESTY’S COURTS AND TRIBUNAL SERVICE website. 


The National Archives has useful information on LOOKING FOR RECORDS OF A WILL OR ADMINISTRATION AFTER 1858




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A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 03 February 11 20:25 GMT (UK) »

A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX




PRE1858



Before 1858 the system of granting probate was done by the Church of England through ecclesiastical courts. Throughout England and Wales there were at least 300 church courts which helps explain why there are no central indexes for wills pre 1858. The wills from each of these courts have been deposited in county records across the country and at some other repositories. Each archive has indexed the wills and admons deposited with them and a growing number have these indexes online.


The value of the property and goods left by the deceased, and where they lived, usually determined which church court proved their will. Understanding how the administration of the Church of England was organised helps to understand the church’s court system and in turn why a will was proved in a particular court.
 
The smallest church unit was a parish with a vicar, rector or curate. A deanery consisted of a number of parishes usually less than 12 headed by a dean. An Archdeaconry consisted of a number of deaneries in the charge of an archdeacon. If any property bequeathed in the will was situated within the jurisdiction of one archdeaconry the will could be proved within the local Archdeacon’s court.   

A diocese consists of several archdeaconries under the authority of a bishop. A will with property spread over several archdeaconries but all within one diocese would usually prove in this higher Bishop’s court.

A peculiar was an area that by ancient custom was exempt from both the archdeacon’s and the bishop’s authority. A peculiar could be just one parish, a group of adjacent parishes or even parishes that were not adjacent. Important churches and cathedrals within dioceses were peculiars claiming immunity from the bishop’s jurisdiction. They too had their own church court.

A province was a large area made up of several dioceses under the authority of an archbishop. Until 1920 there were only two archbishops, the Archbishop of York and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The senior of the two was the Archbishop of Canterbury. If the property bequeathed in the will was contained in more than one diocese within a province the will would need to be proved in the Archbishop’s court which was known as the Prerogative court. If the property bequeathed was situated across both provinces or including property found outside of England, the will would need to be proved in the senior of the two courts the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury. If a property-owner died overseas, such as a sailor or soldier, then their will was proved in the PCC regardless of where the property was situated in England and Wales.


Executors could choose to use a higher church court if they so wished. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Prerogative court, despite its name, was situated in London and so people near London found it just as convenient to prove wills in this court as in the lower local church courts. Non-conformists and Jews usually proved their wills in Prerogative courts having as little to do with the local Church of England administration as possible and those of a perceived higher standing preferred to use the higher courts.

There is no one will index to wills or administrations in Essex, but most indexes are online.




Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Valda

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A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX
« Reply #3 on: Thursday 03 February 11 20:26 GMT (UK) »

A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX




PREROGATIVE COURT OF CANTERBURY WILLS AND ADMINISTRATIONS 1383-1858



The National Archives holds the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills and administrations. There is an online index to wills on their website Wills 1384-1858 There is no online index for PCC administrations.   


Electronic copies of wills can be ordered online from The National Archives. The copy will be a court copy of the proved will (in series reference PROB 11). All PCC wills were copied by hand into court ledgers by court clerks. The original wills are also held at The National Archives (in series reference PROB 10). The older the will the more difficult it may be to read. The 'Secretary hand' used by the church clerks was the cursive style of handwriting in use from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The 'Italic hand' style of writing gradually replaced it.

If you subscribe to The GENEALOGIST PCC wills can also be obtained from that source.


The National Archives has examples of six PCC WILLS dated 1391, 1479, 1522, 1695, 1709 and 1817 to view to see the typical styles of writing used over the years.


The National Archives web tutorial to help with learning how to read handwriting found in older documents
PALAEOGRAPHY: READING OLD HANDWRITING 1500 – 1800 as well as a practical online tutorial for BEGINNERS’ LATIN and ADVANCED LATIN



The National Archives has useful information on LOOKING FOR RECORDS OF A WILL OR ADMINISTRATION BEFORE1858 and in their in-depth guide  WILLS AND PROBATE RECORDS 






Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX
« Reply #4 on: Thursday 03 February 11 20:27 GMT (UK) »

A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX




LOCAL CHURCH OF ENGLAND COURTS



Most Essex wills are held at the ESSEX RECORD OFFICE
Besides wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the other few exceptions are any wills which might have been proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of London and in three small peculiars.

A general will index for Essex is available online from Essex Record Office – SEAX Essex Archives Online. This consolidates most county wills from the various Essex church courts into one index.

ESSEX WILLS BENEFICIARIES INDEX 1675-1858 an index of people mentioned in wills held at the Essex Record Office where the surname differs from that of the testator. ESSEX FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY also holds a wills beneficiaries index. 


Essex Record Office information leaflet WILLS IN ESSEX


During the Commonwealth period 1649-1660 all Essex wills were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.




A LIST OF CHURCH OF ENGLAND COURTS WITH JURISDICTION IN ESSEX


Essex parishes listed by their PROBATE JURISDICTIONS at Family Search 


Archdeaconry Court of Colchester 1495-1858

Archdeaconry Court of Essex 1400-1858

Archdeaconry of Middlesex (Essex and Hertfordshire Division) 1538-1858

Commissary Court of London 1400-1858 (Essex and Hertfordshire Division)

Consistory Court of the Bishop of London 1262-1858
Essex wills were proved in this court up to 1846. The London Metropolitan Archives has an online index THE CONSISTORY COURT OF LONDON WILLS AND ADMINISTRATIONS
London Metropolitan Archives information leaflet WILLS FOR LONDON, MIDDLESEX AND SURREY BEFORE 1858 for further details 

Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral 1535-1837
Guildhall Library MANUSCRIPTS SECTION has an online index to probate inventories for this court.
The Guildhall Library guide PROBATE RECORDS (WILLS AND ADMINISTRATION) for further details.
 
Court of the Peculiar of the Deanery of Bocking 1538-1857

Court of the Peculiar of Good Easter 1631-1847

Court of the Peculiar of Havering-atte-Bower 1753-1839 wills held at NEW COLLEGE OXFORD archives

Court of the Peculiar of the Liberty of the Sokens 1618-1857

Court of the Peculiar of Writtle near Roxwell 1631-1847

Court of the Royal Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster 1504 -1829 wills are held at WESTMINSTER ARCHIVES
Westminster Archives guide to WILLS for further details. 



LONDON WILLS AND PROBATE INDEX 1525-1858 covers the church court records held by the London Metropolitan Archives and the Guildhall Library. Further details for this index with images can be found at Ancestry.

THE LONDON PROBATE INDEX, 1750-1858 covers 9 of the Church courts found in the London area including the Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral 1750-1837 and the Court of the Royal Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster 1750-1780s, with a few later to 1829.
Further details for this index can be found at FINDMYPAST

The National Archives hosts transcribed PROBATE TRANSCRIPTS online. The wills are from all areas of the country.


A map of Essex PROBATE JURISDICTIONS at Family Search showing each courts’ jurisdiction over Essex parishes






Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX
« Reply #5 on: Thursday 03 February 11 20:27 GMT (UK) »

A GUIDE TO WILLS IN ESSEX




DEATH DUTY REGISTERS



The National Archives podcast THE FINAL BALANCE: RESEARCHING FAMILIES AND WEALTH IN THE 19TH CENTURY USING THE DEATH DUTY RECORDS



The information that the Death Duty Registers contain can be very useful.


‘They show what happened to someone's personal estate (not freehold) after death; and what it was actually worth, excluding debts and expenses. They can give the name of the deceased, with address and last occupation; the date of the will; the place and date of probate; the names, addresses and occupations of the executors; and details of estates, legacies, trustees, legatees, annuities and the duty paid. They can also give the date of death, and information about the people who received bequests (beneficiaries), or who were the next-of-kin, such as exact relationship to the deceased. Tax was not payable on bequests to people within a closely defined family circle, and as a result the family relationship was often noted in the registers. In 1796, tax was not payable on bequests to offspring, spouse, parents and grandparents. In 1805, the exemption was restricted to spouse and parents. From 1815, only bequests to the spouse were exempt from paying tax. Because the registers could be annotated for many years after the first entry, they can include information such as dates of death of spouse; dates of death or marriage of beneficiaries; births of posthumous children and grandchildren; change of address; references to law suits, cross references to other entries, etc.’



The National Archives information on Death Duty Registers LOOKING FOR RECORDS OF A DEATH DUTY BETWEEN 1796 AND 1903 and their in-depth guide DEATH DUTY RECORDS 1796 TO 1903



From 1796 onwards estate duty (death duties) were payable on many estates over a certain value. Before 1805 the registers cover only about a quarter of all estates, but by 1857 only estates under £20 were exempt. Taxes were not always collected on smaller estates, so not all the details in the register entries were always filled in. Many of the Death Duty Registers for the 1890s were destroyed by fire.



The National Archives hold DEATH DUTY REGISTERS between the dates 1796-1903 (in series reference IR26 - Inland Revenue records). There is an online index 1796-1811 at DOCUMENTSONLINE for all English wills, except those proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. 



Death Duty Registers can be viewed at The National Archives on microfilm 1796-1857. As these registers have been microfilmed, it is possible to order copies of many of the FILMS and view them at a local FAMILY HISTORY CENTRE



FINDMYPAST holds copies of the indexes to the Death Duty Registers in IR26. These are old indexes found at The National Archives in series reference IR27.


‘The surnames are recorded using only the first letter of the surname or the first three letters of the surname - depending on the years searched. When a search is performed, the system will search for the surname range that will contain the surname you are searching for, should there be an entry for it. Please note that there is no guarantee that the name you are looking for will appear on the pages provided in the results.’





Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk