The guide to researching your family history.
Catherine Meades BSc DipGen QG
Cameo Family History
A series to lead you through the process of discovering your family’s story in simple steps, with some tips and tricks to help you through, round or over brick walls.
Part 9 – Wills and Administrations
Wills can be really interesting for family historians. They give us an insight into the mind of the person who wrote them – not to mention they can list most of the members of the person’s family.
1858 is the key date when looking for wills.
From 1858 onwards, probate became the responsibility of the state and copies of the original documents can be obtained via a government website for £10 each.
Before 1858, probate was the responsibility of the courts of the Anglican church – even for the wills of non-Anglicans.
These church courts were hierarchical so depending on the size and location of the deceased’s assets, there were typically a number of levels at which a will could be proved – the highest being the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC).
Luckily, most wills for the Diocese of Durham (which included Northumberland) were proved in the Durham Consistory Court.
The originals of these wills are kept in the Palace Green Library in Durham and images for many are available online.
Are you in #Durham today with your little ones? Would like something fun for them to do?
Between 1pm-3pm you can use our Wild Exhibition to help make a cheeky #animal bookmark to remember the page in your favourite book.https://t.co/Ok1eJHViDj@ThisisDurham @DurhamWHS @dumuseums pic.twitter.com/EwjVRJAYCH
— Palace Green Library (@PalaceGreenLib) September 1, 2019
Administration was the process by which someone was legal appointed to administer an estate in the absence of a will.
The associated records – often known as “Admons” – are much briefer than wills but may still provide useful information. Admons are obtained from the same sources as wills.
Next month: Newspapers
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