Wills are a fantastic resources for any family historian and it’s great news to hear of more being made readily available.
Ancestry.co.uk have been filling in some of the earlier gaps in its coverage of the post 1858 will indexes for England and Wales and we hear that these indexes are to be made free to view for the next week until 9th July.
We’ve been playing about with Ancestry’s new dataset of London wills 1528-1858 and trying to establish exactly what it contains. Comparison with various other indexes and sources and the site itself suggests these are the original wills from those church courts whose records were formerly lodged at Guildhall and are now at London Metropolitan Archives (Commissary and Archdeaconry of London) along with those from the Consistory of London and Archdeaconry of Middlesex which were always a LMA.
The collection does not, at present, include any testamentary records which might be found amongst the old Register Copy Wills or in the Will Act Books nor in the Administrations of those who died intestate. So don’t be beguiled into thinking these are the only probate records for Londoners. As Ancestry’s site says there are still other records to check back at LMA. It’s a fantastic start and the images of the documents it has are excellent. BUT you should still check all of the published indexes to the various London courts whether they be published by the British Record Society or on other websites.
The Society of Genealogists library has free access to Ancestry.co.uk as well as Findmypast and British Origins which also have useful indexes to wills for the London area. The SoG’s library of books and documents contains many abstracts and copies of London wills and some of these are indexed amongst the SoG data on MySoG. The Society has all of the manuscripts, printed and published indexes available for the church courts that governed wills including those for London and Westminster. Note also that many Londoners’ wills were probated in the highest church court known as the Prerogative Court of Canterbury which has records at The National Archives. These indexed on TNA’s Documents Online webbsite which is also free to view at the Society of Genealogists.
For more information on using wills see the SoG free information leaflet on Wills.
Remember where there’s a will there’s a genealogist