Wills of Our Ancestors
A Guide for Family and Local Historians
Date of publication: November 2012
Publisher: Pen and Sword
What are wills, and how can they be used for family and local history research? How can you interpret them and get as much insight from them as possible? They are key documents for exploring the lives of our ancestors, their circumstances, and the world they knew. This practical handbook is the essential guide to understanding them.
Wills expert Stuart Raymond traces the history and purpose of probate records and guides readers through the many pitfalls and possibilities these fascinating documents present. He describes the process of probate, gives a detailed account of the content of the various different types of record, and advises readers on how they can be used to throw light into the past. They offer factual evidence that no genealogist or local historian can afford to ignore.
In a series of concise, fact-filled chapters he explains how wills came into being, who made them and how they were made, how the probate system operates, how wills and inventories can be found, and how much can be learned from them. In addition to covering probate records in England and Wales, he includes the Channel Islands, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland.
This introduction is aimed primarily at family historians who are interested in the wills of particular individuals – who are seeking proof of descent – and local historians who are interested in the wealth of local historical information that can be gathered from them.