Wills and Testaments
In the Name of God Amen
A will is a formal document setting out a person's wishes and directing what they wish to happen to their possessions after their death. It should be borne in mind that most ordinary people did not leave a will, but it is always worth seeking one out.
'Wills are an extremely important source of local and genealogical information. Because wills usually mention several members of a family of two or three generations, they are one of the most valuable sources available to the genealogist. They are often the only means of establishing the truth, or otherwise, of a family tree hypothetically compiled from parish registers only.' Terrick Fitzhugh
Wills usually contain the name, address and occupation of the testator (the person making a will, is called the testator), as well as details of the beneficiaries (person or persons whom you have left a gift to in your Will) and will mention the property owned (land and goods).
Because of this you are able to extract information on the related family and friends, as the names of married daughters are shown, names of grandchildren, cousins, nephews etc. Wills also include the addresses and occupations of witnesses and executors (Executors are the people who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes and for sorting out the estate) who may also be related to the testator.
The wills that have been so far discovered for this area are:
- Kingston Wills ~ Diocese of Sarum
- Southmoor Wills ~ Diocese of Sarum
- Longworth Wills ~ Diocese of Sarum
- National Archives Wills ~ PCC Wills
Your may also like to visit:-
The National Archives of the United Kingdom online
'People in Place: families, households and housing in early modern London, 1550-1720'
Berkshire Record Office - see Probate records
The Longworth History Society is running a project transcribing the wills of this area and if you think there is a likelihood of your ancestor who lived in Kingston Bagpuize, Draycott Moor aka Southmoor, Longworth or Hinton Waldrist, then contact the Wills Project Officer on the Longworth History website, to see if a will exists.