About the Wishful Thinking Wills Database

website: willsdb.gukutils.org.uk

Many thanks to the kind people who have provided details of their ancestors' Wills for this project.
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See also About England Probate Records on the GENUKI website. (verified 2021-09-13)

Additional Information

The idea for this collection of Wills Abstracts came originally from a gentleman named Leslie Mahler in May 1998, when he directed me towards a selection of Wills Abstracts he'd transcribed for Gloucestershire. He expressed a hope that it would be of assistance to other researchers, as well as to himself, and hoped I could include it with other Family History related information I had begun to collect.

At that time, few collections of Wills were available online, so I could see the potential for a great resource, and in due course I transcribed abstracts of all the Wills I'd collected - a few for Gloucestershire, and a significant number for Derbyshire. These were added to over a course of several years, by others who also wanted to share the results of their research. And during that time, Wills from Herefordshire were also to augment this collection.

Understandably, there have been many changes in the intervening years since this Project's inception. Back then, we were searching copies of Wills on microfilm, or if we were lucky, we were able to see the originals, and get photocopies. Now, we no longer need to do that, as we have access to many of these same Wills in digital form, and there is no longer such a pressing need for this, and similar websites. As a consequence, this database is no longer being added to; but it does, nevertheless, continue to be of use, even for me, to remind myself of Wills I purchased in paper copy!

Indeed, Wills can be invaluable resources for tracing one's Family History. Maybe you will be lucky, and find a married daughter named in her father's Will, when her baptism, or even her marriage, goes unrecorded. Or else you may be interested simply in extending your Family History in the broadest sense, in learning which families were related, or how far some people travelled.

An example of the former is the Will of William BROOMHEAD of Calver, Derbyshire, dated 1813, in which he names his married daughter Sarah, wife of William WILD. Whilst I knew William WILD had married a Sarah BROOMHEAD, I had been unable to find a record of her baptism, so if it weren't for her father's Will, I would never have known her parents.

An example of the latter is the Will of Jacob BAGSHAW of Chelmorton, Derbyshire, dated 1785. He was a bachelor, but his Will names a lot of relatives, some of whom moved to London. If you were researching BAGSHAW from the London end, the Will may provide the very information you are looking for, by telling you where the family you are researching came from!

And of course there are many other ‘gems’ to be discovered, for instance to whom Mary OUTRAM, of Eyam, Derbyshire, in her Will of 1769, bequeathed her “second best Stays”!

The format I've adopted for the Wills collection as a whole, is :-

SURNAME, forename - residence and occupation, date the Will was WRITTEN (when known) followed by date of DEATH, again if known. Following this is a list of benefactors, and those mentioned in the Will, with Witnesses, Appraisers of Inventory, &c. The date of PROBATE comes at the end.

In probably 99% of cases in our collection, the Will has been written just a short while before death and probate. I know of one case, however, where the Will was written 20+ years before death, and plenty of examples where the Will has been made, and a benefactor, or executor has died before the Will has been proved. So whilst on the face of it the date a Will was written would appear to be meaningless, it could help pinpoint dates between which other events may have taken place.

Finally, please note: this site exists solely as a result of kind individuals contributing information from their private family history research. It has no affiliation with the repositories where the original documents can be found, nor is it intended to provide comprehensive coverage of the large number of documents of this type which exist.

You can find out more about Wills and Probate on the websites of any of the Archives or Record Offices referred to on this site.

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