England, Hampshire Probate Abstracts (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England
Hampshire


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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.
Hampshire,  England
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Location of Hampshire, England
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Record Description
Record Type Probate Abstracts
Collection years 1491-1653
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Hampshire Archives and Local Studies


What is in This Collection?

This collection consists of wills from the Consistory Court of Winchester and the Archdeaconry Court of Winchester for the years 1491-1653. The extracts were created by volunteers and employees of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Library.

There are several different types of probate records, but wills are the most informative. Original wills were generally on loose pieces of paper, copies of which were entered into books. Act books are brief paragraphs telling that the executor appeared in court and was approved to distribute the goods as set forth in the will. Administrations are documents created when a person died without leaving a will. Older wills from 1492 through to the late 17th or early 18th century will have varying degrees of legibility. There will also be some Latin in the wills in the middle of the 17th century. Wills probated up to 1857 were handled and kept by the Consistory Court of the Diocese Chester; thereafter (1858-1940) they were handled by the District Probate Registry for Cheshire.

Until 1837 a male as young as 14 and a girl as young as 12 could make a will; thereafter one had to be 21 to make a will. Wills for married women before 1882 are rare because they were not allowed to have property. Those who had land or money, such as merchants, shopkeepers, farmers, or laborers, created wills. About 10% of the heads of households were probated before 1857, but as many as 25% left a will or was mentioned in one. There are about 143,000 names indexed in Cheshire Probate Record indexes.

Probate records document the transfer of possessions after a person dies. Wills, in particular, were written to ensure that the property and personal estate of a deceased person would be distributed according to his or her wishes. The court would then call in the next of kin and assign them the duty of distributing the goods. The administrator is usually the only person mentioned besides the court officials.

One of the 39 historic counties of England, Hampshire, also known as Southamptonshire in the period of this collection, is located in southeastern England on the English channel. In the period of the collection, the county also administered the Isle of Wight. For a list of parishes which historically made up this county with links to more information about each of them, see the Hampshire Parishes page.

Hampshire Probate Jurisdictions

To help further your research, here is a list of probate jurisdictions in Hampshire:

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can This Collection Tell Me?

Will abstracts may include the following information:

  • Full name of deceased
  • Date of probate
  • Date of will
  • Names of children, spouse and cousins
  • Relationship to listed persons
  • Occupation
  • Place of residence

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. When entered into the search engine on the Collection Page, this information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person. Of course, other information can be substituted as necessary.

Search by Name by Visiting the Collection Page

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page to return a list of possible matches. Compare the individuals on the list with what is already known to find the correct family or person. This step may require examining multiple individuals before a match is located.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the index entry for future reference; see below for assistance in citing this collection.
  • Look at an image of the original record, if possible. The online index entry generally lists only the most basic identifying information for an individual; the original record may contain further information which was not included in the index. Save or print a copy of the image if possible.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the age listed in the record to estimate a year of birth, if that is yet undetermined.
  • Find the individual in church records. See the Hampshire Parish Registers page for more information.
  • If in the appropriate period, use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and the England Civil Registration records.
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Check for variants of given names and surnames. An individual might appear under a different name in a record for a variety of reasons:
    • An individual might have been listed under a middle name, nickname, or abbreviation of their given name.
    • Spelling was not standardized for much of the period of this collection, so names were often spelled as they were pronounced. Pay attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try spelling variations that could have that pronunciation.
    • Some women reverted to their maiden names after the death of their husbands.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches.
  • Search the records of nearby parishes. While it was uncommon for an individual in this period to move more than about 20 miles from their place of birth, smaller relocations were not uncommon. For this particular collection, this step may require finding records in the bordering English counties of Dorsetshire and Wiltshire to the west, Berkshire to the north, or Surrey and Sussex to the south.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:

"England, Hampshire Probate Abstracts, 1491-1653." Database. FamilySearch. http://familysearch.org. Accessed 2014. Citing Consistory Court of Winchester, Winchester.


Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record will be available with each record once the collection is published.


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