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Probate Registry Wills

Discussion in 'Wills and probate' started by canadianbeth, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    I found the will of my 7th great-grandfather who died in 1742. It is handwritten and very difficult to read. The one I found from 1760 for my 6th gg was handwritten and also printed out in plain English. This one is not. It appears he had three children; I only knew about the daughter, but I cannot tell for sure as it gives his son George one hundred pounds and then much further down gives his wife and son William the remainder of his estate. Since he referred to himself as William the Elder, a son William makes sense, but why just give George a hundred pounds (and his daughter a piece of his plate and ?) Not that that matters; I am just wanting to know how to be able to read the will in English I can understand. The find a will site begins at 1858.
  2. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    The National Archives has online guidance with reading old handwriting, which should help - see here.

    I believe Ancestry, FindmyPast and FamilySearch also offer tips.
  3. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Yes, because 1858 is when the Principal Probate Registry for England and Wales was established.

    Wills before 1858 were proved locally in church courts, or in the Prerogative courts of Canterbury and York.
  4. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    Thank you. I did find a summary of the will on FindmyPast; just an abstract but enough to show what he left and to whom. A hundred pounds to George, some plate and linen to Elizabeth and the residue to his wife and son William. No mention of a son John however, who was apparently born in 1702; probably died before his father. He was a "maltster". So he brewed beer? (according to Google) He seems to have been mentioned as witnesses in a lot of other wills so it took a while to find the one that was his. The 1860 one that was handwritten was also printed out exactly word for word.
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    No, he turned grain (usually barley) into malt which he would have sold to brewers.
  6. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    Possibly George and the daughter had received money etc. during the father's lifetime, while William Jr might have been a boy, yet to strike out in the world, who had as yet received nothing.
  7. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    William was the eldest, with George two years younger. Once I thought about it, I realized that the eldest always inherited just about everything; younger sons were expected to go into the church or the army. Elizabeth was already married, seven of her eight children were born before her father died, so she probably received her "portion" long before.
  8. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    In case anyone reading this is new to family history, it's worth pointing out this only applies to rich families. Working class families lived such a precarious existence that their children were expected to earn their living from an early age, and it was quite likely that their few assets ended up in the hands of the child(ren) who looked after them in their old age.
  9. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    Yes, I have been surprised that in the two or three wills I have actually seen, the man in question was able to leave his children such a large amount. It has certainly not been the case for my generation or the one before mine. From what I have heard about my maternal grandfather, his family was well-enough off to have had a maid but when he emigrated to Canada, things certainly changed for him. And I had to get a job directly from high school, even though my teachers said I had the "smarts" to go to university. (part of that was because I was a ward of the children's aid society and aged out at 18, no money for further education after that)
  10. Heather

    Heather LostCousins Member

    My mother could have gone to high school but she would have to wear shoes and her parents could not afford them, she only wore clogs, so she left school and became a cotton weaver.

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