GENUKI Home page up Devon ContentsContents & Search
 
 

THE DEVON WILLS PROJECT

A co-operation involving the Devon Family History Society, Devon Heritage Services,
GENUKI/Devon, and the Plymouth and West Devon RO
to compile an INDEX of Devon wills, administrations, etc.

Project Co-ordinators: Richard Grylls and Brian Randell

Consolidated Index

Interim Search Facility

   Now contains details of over 300, 000 wills, etc.,  from almost 550 different sources   

THE AIM
The aim of the Devon Wills Project (DWP) is to provide a finding-aid in the form of a consolidated index of all Devon wills, and also administrations and inventories. The index shows where copies, transcripts, abstracts or extracts of such original testamentary documents may be found, and in many cases the whereabouts of the original documents themselves. (Here is an article about the project prepared for the Devon Family Historian.)
Almost all wills and administrations of Devon people were proved or granted in one of two locations, in Devon itself or in London. The originals of those wills proved in London - very nearly all at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) - have survived. However the originals of nearly all wills proved in Devon perished during an air-raid on Exeter in 1942. Printed calendars (lists that are more chronological than alphabetical) covering maybe three quarters of the wills proved in Devon had been compiled before the war. It was decided that DWP's index should include every testamentary item that was listed in these calendars, whether or not a copy/transcript/abstract of the item had been located. Thus, our index includes a huge number of entries generated from these calendars that we term 'list entries' ('le' in the 'Form' Column of the index). Although in such cases the original will or administration is lost, and we may have been unable to locate any copy, transcript or abstract of it, at least its existence prior to 1942 is verifiable because it was listed in a calendar.
DWP's primary task has been to try to track down copies, transcripts and abstracts of these lost wills and administrations. If you are lucky, you will therefore find an additional entry nearby in the index showing 'co', 'tr' or 'ab' in the 'Form' Column, which indicates that we have indeed located a copy, a transcript or an abstract of the original.
DWP's results are provided in the form of a Consolidated Index (a browsable set of web pages listing wills, etc., in alphabetical order of testators' names). This index is due to be complemented by a powerful online search facility (available as part of Origins.net's National Wills Index). At present just a "beta" version of the online search facility is available. This has some relatively minor limitations - e.g. the surname field cannot be left blank, the reference no. field is not yet included in the results of searches, and it and several other fields cannot yet be specified. However this interim search facility is already a very useful and powerful addition to the facilities provided by DWP's web-based browsing interface. (This search facility is and will remain freely available - it is not necessary to subscribe or login to Origins.net in order to use it. )

CAVEATS
The Devon Wills Project is not itself transcribing or collecting transcripts or abstracts of wills, but merely offering information as to where such items may be found. Though we have tried to make sure our index is as accurate and user-friendly as possible, it may well include some errors and ambiguities over and above those in the sources on which we have drawn. Please inform us of any that you find.

THE SOURCES AND THE COVERAGE
DWP volunteers have scoured well over 500 sources (libraries, museums, record offices, archives, private document collections, catalogues, books, periodicals, indexes, calendars, the internet, etc., etc.) to find items for inclusion in this index. The sources searched are shown directly below in the List of Sources. As can be seen, we have give each source a code name, e.g. ACA, DHC-W, PECU1, these codes always appearing in capital letters.
The index includes only testators (those who made wills) and intestates (those who did not make wills, but whose estates were administered), and not beneficiaries and other people mentioned in those documents. The testators and intestates shown in the index will normally have been born and/or have died in Devon, though some may have had their wills proved or administrations granted outside the county. (However, the index does also include some testators merely because their bequests have been judged as providing sufficient evidence that the testator had a close relationship to Devon.) Also included in the index are some people who definitely lived outside Devon (mostly in Cornwall) but whose wills were proved in Exeter, and were thus lost in 1942.
The period covered is in general up to the end of 1857, at which time ecclesiastical courts were disbanded and the probate of all Devon wills came under the jurisdiction of the Principal Probate Registry (PPR) in London. (A more exact indication of the index's coverage is given in More Detailed Notes.)
NOTE: During the work of the Devon Wills Project, in fact in October 2012, Devon County Council set up Devon Heritage Services. This brought together the newly-created Devon Heritage Centre at Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton, Exeter EX2 7NL (comprising the hitherto separate Devon Record Office, and the Westcountry Studies Library), and the Barnstaple-based North Devon Record Office. In general these pages therefore make reference to the Devon Heritage Centre (DHC), but references to the Centre's constituent former organisations (DRO and WSL) may also be encountered by users, in particular amongst our various sources. (The North Devon Record Office itself continues to use the acronym NDRO.)

USING THE INDEX
  1. Check in the 'Form' Column - if it doesn't say 'le', you're in luck! Somewhere there is the original, a copy, a transcript or an abstract of that person's will. If it does say 'le', check nearby entries to see if there is a similar entry that says 'or', 'co', 'tr' or 'ab'. If there is only an 'le' entry, then, sadly, we have found no original, copy, transcript or abstract. BUT, see also 5 below.
  2. If you were 'in luck', make a note of the information shown, particularly noting the code given in the 'Source' column. If that source code is MISC, note also the code or name before the hyphen in the next ("Reference") Column, (e.g. "Hooper2")
  3. Return to the homepage, look in the List of Sources, locate the relevant source code (e.g. DHC-C) and note the actual source name (e.g. "Devon Heritage Centre Online Catalogue"). Then click on that source name (or on the relevant source section). The webpage you thus reach describes the source in detail, and also indicates where you should go, or who you should contact, to see (or perhaps obtain your own copy of) that particular will, administration or inventory.
  4. If the source of your will was shown as MISC, click on the link Miscellaneous Minor Sources in the MISC row in the List of Sources. (These sources are "minor" in the sense of containing only a relatively few items.) On the Miscellaneous Minor Sources webpage look for the code or name you recorded from the 'Reference' column. Note the precise details given of the relevant minor source (e.g. Hooper2: Hooper, Hilda J. Pedigrees to the name Hooper, Howper, Hoper etc. Manuscript volume (c.1950) [LMA]). The minor source will often be a book or periodical, which could be sought at a good reference library. If the minor source is not a published one, then the details given will indicate its location - the London Metropolitan Archives in this example.
  5. If at first you cannot locate the will you hope to find in our index, consider the ways in which that person's surname might have been spoken, and thus possible phonetically-based spelling variations of the name. It is often the first vowel in a surname which proved flexible, e.g. Hallman/Helman/Hillman/Holman, Peeke/Pick/Pyke, Harrell/Hearle, Toker/Tucker, Berry/Burie, Diamond/Deyman, Lang/Long, Butler/Boteler.
  6. There will be cases where there are several entries (from different Sources) relating to the same original will or administration, e.g. identifying where an official copy of a will is held, and the locations of transcripts and/or abstracts of this will. You should be able to work out which source would be most convenient for you to inspect. Note also that index entries referring to the same will or administration may differ minutely, due to inconsistencies among the various Sources, transcription errors, etc.
  7. Note that the consolidated index, which will probably have been your first "port of call", is only updated at intervals. You should also check the listing of Latest Additions for items that have not yet been incorporated into the consolidated index.

VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers are still sought to help with the transcribing of information from those sources listed below that have yet to be completely dealt with. A set of Guidelines is available describing the transcription rules. For more information please contact Richard Grylls.

List of Sources

CODE SOURCE No. of Entries TRANSCRIBER
ACA Anthony Camp's Index of Prerogative Court of Canterbury Administrations 1750-1800 2742 Brian Randell
ARCH The Court of Arches 118 Brian Randell
BANK Bank of England Wills Extracts Index 1717-1845    
BARN-R Registration Court of the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple 2355 Lindsey Withers
BASK Moger - Basket A 1417 Alan Brooke and Brian Lake
BECK Beckerlegge, J.J. (Ed.)    Index of the Wills and Administrations relating to the County of Devon proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple, 1563-1858 50014 Pat Gillard, Paul Hockie, Marilyn and Pieter Koops, Pat Norton, Susan Page, John Pitts and Brian Randell
BES Besley, T.    The Report of the Commissioners Concerning Charities, containing that part which relates to the County of Devon, (3 vols) (1826-30) 754 Brian Randell
CA College of Arms 1613 Patrick Dickinson, Sylvie Matthews and Lindsey Withers
CASH Cash, M.    Devon Inventories of the 16th and 17th centuries 277 Lindsey Withers
CATH Exeter Cathedral 150 Richard Grylls
CRO Cornwall RO Catalogue 927 Brian Randell
DDR1 Death Duty (Estate Duty) Will and Administration Abstracts (TNA IR 26), for the period 1796-1811 4595 Brian Randell
DDR2 Death Duty (Estate Duty) Administration Abstracts (TNA IR 26), for the period 1812-1857 6086 Brian Arthur, Alan Brooke, Jane Cook, Richard Grylls, Carole Harrison, Brian Lake and Lindsey Withers
DHC-A Devon Heritage Centre - Wills found via A2A 2852 Brian Randell and Lindsey Withers
DHC-C Devon Heritage Centre - Online Catalogue 1018 Brian Randell
DHC-I Inventories at the Devon Heritage Centre (DHC). 664 Lindsey Withers
DHC-U Uncatalogued Collections (DHC) 2628 Richard Grylls, Liz Holliday and Kim Tomlinson
DHC-W Wills Card Index (DHC). 13374 Richard Grylls, Diana Stevens and Lindsey Withers
DRAKE Drake Genealogy (2 vols.) MSS [SOG] 465 Richard Grylls
DWAAC Devon Wills and Administrations: Additions and Corrections 1595-1799 1585 Jane Cook
FOTH Devon Names in the Fothergill Collection 260 Richard Grylls
FRYA Fry, E.A. (ed.)    Calendar of Wills and Administrations relating to the counties of Devon and Cornwall, proved in the court of the Principal Registry of the Bishop of Exeter, 1559-1799, and of Devon only, proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Exeter, 1540-1799. British Record Society Index Library Vol 35 (1908) 66844 Provided by Ian Galbraith, of the National Wills Index, and edited by Richard Grylls and Brian Randell
FRYB Fry, E.A. (ed.)    Calendar of Wills and Administrations relating to the counties of Devon and Cornwall, proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Exeter, 1532-1800. British Record Society Index Library Vol 46 (1914) 21844 Provided by Ian Galbraith, of the National Wills Index, and edited by Richard Grylls and Brian Randell
FTNAA Devon PCC Admons 1700-49 682 Provided by the Friends of The National Archives
FURG Fursdon, C.A.T.    Genealogical contents of Devon and Cornish wills and inventories [ca.1558-1810] - Vol. I 644 Jo Dyer and Richard Grylls
FURW Fursdon, C.A.T.    Genealogical contents of Devon and Cornish wills and inventories [ca.1558-1810] - Vol. II 623 Kerrie Johnson and Lindsey Withers
GD Devon section of GENUKI 513 Brian Randell
GLEN Extracts from Glencross, R. M.    Calendar of Wills, Administrations and Accounts Relating to the Counties of Cornwall and Devon in the Connotorial Archdiaconal Court of Cornwall (1569-1699) 163 Richard Grylls
IRW DHC copies of Inland Revenue Wills retained by the Estate Duty Office (1812-1857). 18084 Brian Randell
IZAC Izacke, Richard    An alphabetical register of divers persons, who by their last wills & grants have given towards the relief of the poor of the county of Devon. 133 Brian Randell
JHA Devon Names in the Calendars of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Administrations (1581-1660), by Jean Harris 4262 Brian Randell
JHW Devon Names in the Calendars of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills (1383-1700), by Jean Harris 11662 Brian Randell
LEP Lepine, David and Nicholas Orme, (Eds.)    Death and Memory in Medieval Exeter (Devon and Cornwall Record Society, 2003) 212 Brian Randell
MALL Mallock of Cockington Collection (DRO) 150 Brian Randell
MANN Mann, J.H.    Mann Family History (SOG, BL and DCRS) 239 Richard Grylls
MED Medlycott and Hawkings    Index to the Lost Probate Records of the Diocese of Exeter 2423 Ann Roberts
MICH Rev. Arthur Tompson Michell's Notebook 310 Lindsey Withers and Richard Grylls
MISC Wills, Administrations and Inventories in Miscellaneous Sources - for a list of these sources (to date) see Miscellaneous Minor Sources 5707 Christine Abram, Peter Cowell, Liz & Peter Davidson, Jo Dyer, Bev Edmonds, Richard Grylls, Jean Harris, Stephen Hobbs, Graham King, Richard Lawton, Pauline Lyons, Justin H. Martin, Daniel Morgan, Brian Randell, Sarah Reed, John Ritchings, Ann Roberts, Fay Sampson, Jen Walton and Gerald Wyatt
MOGA Moger, Olive M.    Transcript of Devonshire wills, 1600-1800, Ms. 11578 Nigel Bond, Lesley Crocombe, Pauline Ferris, Liz Holliday, Lynne Moses, Pearl Savage, and Madeleine Robertson Squire
MOGC Moger, Olive M.    Cornish Wills Proved In Exeter 170 Lindsey Withers
MOGT Moger, Olive M.    Abstracts of Testamentary Causes 5641 Alan Brooke, Jane Cook, Malcolm Diggines, Anne Hawkins, Marjorie King, Brian Lake, Ann Roberts and Lindsey Withers
MUR1 Murray, Oswyn (comp.)    Oswyn Murray collection of wills, abt. 1600-1800 12059 Brian Arthur, Alan Brooke, Jane Cook, Lesley Crocombe, Pauline Ferris, Carole Harrison, Brian Lake, Richard Lawton, Sylvie Matthews, Ann Roberts, Diana Stevens and Lindsey Withers
MUR2 Murray, Oswyn (comp.)    More Oswyn Murray will abstracts 1426 Nigel Bond, Alan Brooke, Malcolm Diggines, Brian Lake, Ann Roberts and Lindsey Withers
NAVY Registers of Seamen's Wills 4606 Lindsey Withers
NDA North Devon Athenaeum 452 Stephen Hobbs and Brian Randell
NDRO-A North Devon Record Office - wills found via A2A 1332 Brian Randell and Lindsey Withers
NDRO-C North Devon Record Office Online Catalogue 143 Brian Randell
PECU1 A calendar of wills proved in the Peculiar Court of the Vicars Choral at Exeter (SOG) 818 Richard Grylls
PECU2 A calendar of wills proved in the Peculiar Court of the Dean of Exeter (SOG) 1081 Richard Grylls
PROB 11 Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (TNA) 28,259 Brian Randell
PWDRO-A Plymouth and West Devon Record Office - wills found via A2A 1882 Brian Randell
PWDRO-C Plymouth and West Devon Record Office Online Catalogue 2236 Brian Randell
PWDRO-W Plymouth and West Devon Record Office wills card index 1219 Brian Randell
SHC Somerset Heritage Centre Online Catalogue 371 Brian Randell
SOG Society of Genealogists 1479 Richard Grylls
TAPS The Tapley-Soper collection of Inquisitions Post Mortem (Westcountry Studies Library) 2249 Jane Cook, John Gunton, Lindsey Withers
TNA Miscellaneous Record Classes at The National Archives 1245 Brian Randell
UFWI The Uffculme Wills & Inventories (DCRS Vol. 40, 1997) 619 Mary Fraser
UPP Uffculme: a Peculiar Parish (Uffculme Archive Group, 1997) 243 Mary Fraser
VIV Vivian, Col. J.L.    Abstracts of 16th-18th cent. Wills, etc., chiefly relating to Devon and Cornwall 961 Teresa Grafton, Richard Grylls and Brian Randell
WOR Worthy, C.    Devonshire Wills, London: Bemrose, 1896. 944 Lindsey Withers
WSA Wiltshire and Swindon Archives 1451 Brian Randell
WWW Will transcripts and abstracts discovered in the WWW, mainly in personal web pages 802 Brian Randell, Gerald Wyatt


The Consolidated Index

A Ba-Bi Bl-Bo Br-By Ca-Cl Co-Cy D E F
G Ha-He Hi-Hy I J K L Ma-Mc Me-My
N O Pa-Pf Ph-Py Q R Sa-Sm Sn-Sy T
U V Wa-We Wh-Wy X Y Z
Latest Additions           Corrections

This page last updated: 22 Jul 2014 - Brian Randell

Consolidated index last updated: 29 Sep 2013

Return to top of page

Note: The information provided by GENUKI must not be used for commercial purposes, and all specific restrictions concerning usage, copyright notices, etc., that are to be found on individual information pages within GENUKI must be strictly adhered to. Violation of these rules could gravely harm the cooperation that GENUKI is obtaining from many information providers, and hence threaten its whole future.