Moretonhampstead Wills

Moretonhampstead Wills

 

Where did we find the Moretonhampstead wills?

Devonshire wills are relatively scarce as almost all wills and administrations of Devon people were proved or 'probated' in Devon and in 1942 the originals of virtually all those wills were destroyed in an air-raid on Exeter. After extensive research we have put together a collection from the following sources:
1. Some wills were proved in London at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and they survive in the National Archives. The PCC dealt with a will:
  • If the testator had goods to the value of more than £5 and/or properties in more than one diocese in Southern England.
  • If the testator died at sea or abroad leaving property in England and Wales.
During the Interregnum of the 1650s all wills were probated in London.
 
2. Some Devon wills were transcribed in whole or part before 1942 and those transcriptions have survived:
Miss Olive Mary Moger (1880-1961) transcribed in whole or summarised the essential terms of about 6,600 wills, and listed (without abstracts) a further 5,000, mostly from Devon. Two sets of her entire collection bound into 22 volumes each are located at the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter. Among the collection are large numbers of wills for which her abstract or transcript is the only surviving 'copy' of the original will following the 1942 air raid. Her abstracts/transcripts of wills proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Totnes and the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter often provide the only evidence of such wills, since not even calendars (i.e. listings) of wills proved in those two Devon courts survived the Blitz.
C.A.T. Fursdon  discovered some documents in the late 1920s in Exeter Cathedral. He transcribed or summarised these and typed them up in 1931. His work was later bound into two volumes, each with some 600 entries. The original documents from which he transcribed / abstracted the information perished in the Blitz. His two volumes are located at the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter.
Sir Oswyn Murray made abstracts of a number of wills before 1942 from original and secondary sources for families in which he had an interest. The abstracts are in a number of volumes at the Devon Heritage Centre. The main series, which is alphabetically arranged, is in 37 volumes. There are two supplementary volumes, entitled '2nd Series' and '3rd Series'. Charles Worthy published 'Devonshire wills: a collection of annotated testamentary abstracts, together with the family history and genealogy of many of the most ancient gentle houses of the west of England' in 1896.
 
3. Some copies of wills were found in family and estate deeds in various archives.
 

How have we transcribed the wills?

Most have been transcribed from seventeenth-century handwriting and translated from Latin where necessary. If a word has been contracted, as they often were, then it has been completed in square brackets e.g. 'pish' in the original is given as 'p[ar]ish' in the transcription. If a word needs some explanation or translation then this is given in italics in curly brackets e.g. the Latin 'Inprimis' is translated as {First of all}. The same has been applied to place names where they differ from the modern version, especially the many variations of 'Moretonhampstead'!
 
Click on The Wills tab above to see the list of wills currently available.