The PWDRO-A source items provide information concerning wills, administrations and inventories, held at the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office (PWDRO), found via The National Archives' Access to Archives (A2A) union catalogue. The results of this search of A2A are believed to be reasonably complete, as of October 2010.
Unfortunately the A2A catalogue does not provide means of searching for particular categories of record. Thus the items included were found by searching the PWDRO section of the A2A catalogue for words and phrases such as "will of", "wills of", "administration", "inventory", "inventories", etc. (These terms are typically found in item descriptions if not in item titles.) By no means all the catalogue entries found provide any information as to the place or even county of residence of the testator, and some give a non-Devon residence without providing any indication of any link to Devon. Catalogue entries typically include a descriptive phrase (included here) which makes it possible to determine the type of document that is being referred to. However, though the phrase 'probate of (the) will' implies just a document confirming that probate had been granted, it is certainly possible that an actual copy of the will may be attached to this document. An enquiry to PWDRO concerning a particular item might elicit more precise detail of what they hold. (The dates given here are, where possible, those in which a will was proved, but in many cases it is not evident from the catalogue whether the date given is, or the date range covers, that of when a will was written, proved or copied.)
The present set of source items is one of three we provide relating to PWDRO wills, etc., the others being PWDRO-C for items from the PWDRO online catalogue, and PWDRO-W for items from their old wills card index. Although progress is being made by the PWDRO towards making all their wills information available via their online catalogue, from our checks (covering surname, forename and reference number) it would appear that as of March 2012 only about 10% of the entries that we have in our PWDRO-W index are also in our PWDRO-A index, and about 35% in PWDRO-C.
A number of the items that were included in A2A concern post-1857 wills, or photocopies of PCC wills, and not all relate to Devon, but all have been included here in PWDRO-W for the sake of completeness.
N.B. As implied above, a single document held at PWDRO may appear in more than one of the three sets of source items, PWDRO-A, PWDRO-C and PWDRO-W. Furthermore, because of different transcription rules employed by the various compilers of A2A, of the PWDRO Online Catalogue and of the Wills Card Index at PWDRO, this single document may appear in PWDRO-A, PWDRO-C and PWDRO-W with slightly different reference numbers in each. These and other types of minor inconsistency cause little difficulty to the PWDRO staff when dealing with requests for copies of wills. However, the inconsistencies should be borne in mind when, for example, using a reference number, rather than a testator's name, etc., to look up an item in A2A or the PWDRO Online Catalogue.
To obtain information about the possibility of viewing the source listed, photographing them or acquiring photocopies of them by post, you should contact the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office directly.
Last updated: 18 Aug 2014 - Brian Randell
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