Leicestershire, England Probate Index: A Very Successful Genealogy Research Day

A very successful genealogy research day–thanks to a handwritten, every surname index to Abstracts of Proven Wills formerly kept at the Leicester District Probate Registry, 1563-1802. The person who compiled the index and abstracts is unidentified. And the value of the indexed surnames is also unidentified.

The Abstracts are available on 27 reels of microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City UT with a copy also available at the Brigham City UT Family History Center. See films 800668-673, 804209-20, 808514-22. These Abstracts are chronological by date. And the alphabetical surname index appears at the beginning of each film.

We are searching for an uncommon name–Lawley–and the common name of Johnson. There are three entries for Lawley only in the published Index Library will and administration indexes for Leicestershire compiled by Harry Hartopp, covering the same time period. Searching the surname indexes, we have found several additional references to Lawleys named in other peoples’ wills.

The Abstracts also include the very important time period from 1650-1657–which is not included in the Index Library version. Including an abstract of a nuncupative will spoken aloud before witnesses and later committed to writing for Thomas Lawley in 1653.

Since the Lawley name is so rare in this part of England, being able to access all the references and mentions as well as actual wills and administrations is especially significant. How fortunate we are that earlier genealogists compiled aids for their work and left a legacy of such value to us.

Leicestershire has a series of short, and valuable guides to research including Family and Estate Collections (1991), Museum Collections Guide, Handlist of Parish Registers and Non-Conformist Records (2003), Bishop’s Transcripts (1987), and Family Forbears: A Guide to Tracing Your Family Tree in the Leicestershire Record Office by Jerome Farrell. Leicester: Leicestershire Museums, Art Galleries, and Records Service, 1987. All of these are in the Family History Library.

One of the most unusual documents we found for our Leicestershire project was: “Sale of Lordship” with an accompanying list of the tenants subject to the Lordship jurisdiction in Stoke Goulding parish. I have read about the transfer of tenants along with the sale of land holdings; this is the first time I have seen the actual list appended to the document.

This is the same legality found in Virginia at the same time period–where the servants and later the slaves are tied to the plantation. They are inherited with or bought with the land. Under the Act of 1705, slaves could not be sold separately nor bequeathed to heirs separately from the land. Recall that Tidewater and Southside Virginia included settlers from Leicestershire! (Virginia Genealogy Blog.com, 18 Feb 2008 post:  Albion’s Seed)

A very successful genealogy research day–your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com

PS Be sure to check out my new Virginia Genealogy Blog .com or use use the link on this blog.

PPS Watch for new descriptions on my Publications List. And lots of new materials for Virginia research.

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