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- Dorset Wills & Administrations 1568-1799, Introduction to Original Volume
Dorset Wills & Administrations 1568-1799
British Record Society volume 22
Introduction to Original Volume
The present volume comprises the Calendars of the Wills proved and Administrations granted in the Consistory Court of the Dorsetshire Division of the old Diocese of Bristol, from 1681 to 1792, those in the Archdeaconry Court of Dorset, from 1568 to 1793, and the following Peculiar Courts:
- Peculiar Court of Canford Magna and Poole
- Peculiar Court of Corfe Castle
- Court of the Royal Peculiar of Milton Abbas
- Peculiar Court of Sturminster Marshall
- Peculiar Court of Wimborne Minster
All of which are now deposited in the Probate Registry at Blandford.
The old Diocese of Bristol was created in the year 1543, and included, besides other territory, a large part of the County of Dorset which had originally belonged to the Diocese of Sarum. The remainder of the county continued subject to the jurisdiction of several Peculiar Courts attached to the Diocese of Sarum. As the records of the Consistory Court of Sarum do not begin so early as 1542, the question of Dorset Wills proved in that Court before that date cannot arise.
The following is an exhaustive list of such Dorset parishes, etc., as are within the separate jurisdiction of the various Sarum Peculiar Courts. The documents relating to these Peculiars are preserved at Somerset House, London.
|Alton Fancras||Peculiar Court of the Dean of Sarum|
|Andertton (Winterborne Anderson)||Peculiar Court of the Dean of Sarum|
|Beaminater||Prebendal Court of Netherbury in ecclesia, and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Bere Hacket||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Bere Regis||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Bloxworth||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Bourton tithing (in the Liberty of Gillingham)||Court of the Royal Pec. and exempt jurisdiction of Gillingham|
|Burton, Long||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Castletown (in Sherborne)||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Caundlemarsh||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Chardstock||Preb. Ct. of Chardstock and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum.|
|Chaiminster||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Chetnole Chapelry||Preb. Ct. of Yetminster and Grimston and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Clifton Maybank||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum until 1824, afterwards under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Bristol and Archdeacon of Dorset|
|Folke||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Forthington||Preb. Ct. of Forthington and Writhlington and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Gillingham||Ct. of the Royal Peculiar and exempt jurisdiction of Gillingham|
|Grimston, see Yetminster|
|Halstock||Preb. Ct. of Lyme Regis and Halstock and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Haydon||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Hermitage||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Holnest||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Leigh Chapelry||Preb. Ct. of Yetminster and Grimston and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Lillington||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Long Burton||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Lyme Regis||Preb. Ct of Lyme Regis and Halstock and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Maperton||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Motcombe Chapelry||Ct. of the Royal Peculiar and exempt jurisdiction of Gillingham|
|Netherbury||Preb. Ct. of Netherbury in ecclesia and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Nether Compton||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|North Wootton||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Obourne, Wobourneals||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Oyer Compton||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Preston||Preb. Ct. of Preston and Sutton Points and Pec Ct of the Dean of Sarum|
|Ryme Intrinseca||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Sherborne||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Stockwood (Stokewood)||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Stourpain||Pec. Ct. of the Dean and Chapter of Sarum|
|Stratton||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Sutton Pointz tithing||Preb. Ct. of Preston and Sutton Points and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Thompson (Winterborn Thompson)||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Thornford||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Turner's Puddle||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Warnbrook||Preb. Ct. of Chardstock and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Winterborn Thompson||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Winterborn Kingston (chapelry to Bere Regis)||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Wobourne als. Obourne||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Wootton, North||Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
|Yetminster, with chapelries of Leigh and Chetnole||Preb. Ct. of Yetminster and Grimston and Pec. Ct. of the Dean of Sarum|
The Calendars of Wills, etc., in the Peculiars given in the above list, though relating to Dorset, will not appear in print until the examination of the records of the Diocese of Sarum is completed, for however desirable it would be to separate them, and thus have one volume containing Dorset Testamentary Documents only, yet they are so mixed up with many other Peculiars not relating to this county that it is impossible at the present time to print them.
The old Diocese of Bristol was reconstituted in 1836, at which time the County of Dorset was restored to the See of Sarum, to which it had anciently belonged. These ecclesiastical rearrangements, how-ever, did not in any way affect the various testamentary jurisdictions. The Consistory Court of the Dorsetshire Division of the old Diocese of Bristol remained separate as before, and the jurisdiction of the Archdeaconry Court of Dorset continued without change.
Calendars of the Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury between the years 1383-1584 forms three volumes* of The Index Library, and should also be consulted for Wills of Dorset people who died within that period.
It may also be noted here with advantage that lists of Dorset Adminis-trations granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury from 1559-1735 have appeared in Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries.
All the documents calendared in this present volume, whether Wills, Administrations or Inventories, etc., are not transcripts, but are the original documents themselves, and, generally speaking, they are in good order and preservation.
When it is considered what vicissitudes the town of Blandford has: witnessed, it is astonishing that so many documents are still in existence. Blandford has been consumed by fire, wholly or in part, no less than four times, namely, in 1579, 1677, I7I3 and 1731; and in 1644 it was pillaged by the Parliamentary forces under Major Sydenham. Again, as late as. October, 1831, owing to the great excitement and agitation of the agricultural population of the town and neighbouririg villages against the employment of machinery on the farms, Blandford was in the hands of a mob for three days. Two of the principal solicitors' offices, namely, those of Mr. George Moore in Salisbury Street and of Mr. S. Smith in The Plocks, were ransacked, and books and papers strewn about the streets. Mr. S. Smith was Registrar of the Court of the ancient Diocese of Bristol at that time, and Wills and other records shared the fate of the books, etc., many now bearing evidence of having been trampled upon and trodden under foot in the mud. It is, therefore, scarcely to be wondered at that gaps and lacuna should occur in the testamentary documents of this Court.
Permission to print these Calendars was given by the Right Hon. Lord Hannen, late President of the Probate Division; and thanks are due to the Chief Clerk at the. Blandford Registry (Mr. H.J. Coward), for facilities accorded in transcribing the original Calendars.The information concerning the Calendars of the Peculiars in the Saram Diocese has been compiled from a Catalogue prepared by the Record Keeper of the Testamentary Documents of that Diocese at Somerset House, and with his kind permission.
Notes on the additional documents in the Peculiar of Corfe Castle.
The Calendar of Additional Documents referring to this Peculiar were till 1899 in the custody of the Rector of Corfe Castle. It is rather difficult to account for their being in private hands till so recent a date, for the Act of 20-21 Victoria (A.D. 1857), "An Act to amend the law relating to Probates and Letters of Administration," ordered that all documents in the hands of officials of Peculiars or Manorial Courts were to be deposited in the custody of the Registrar of the district.
It is just possible that the official in charge at the time was by some omission not requisitioned to deliver up the documents in his charge, though it is still a mystery why there were even in 1830 (see Returns Respecting the Jurisdiction, Records, etc., of Ecclesiastical Courts, 1830, a Blue Book, No. 205, p. 38) some documents relating to this Peculiar at the Blandford Probate Registry.
Until Rev. G. Bartelot (then Curate at Corfe Castle and now Rector of Thurloxton, Som.) took an interest in them a few years ago, most of the records were in a very confused and rotten state, but with much patience and cafe they have been flattened, dried and properly arranged, and are now available for consultation.
The following is a list of the Documents:
A) Original Wills
- Bdle. z. 1376-1616
- Bdle. a. 1616-1627
- Bdle. 3. 1628-1652
- Bdle. 4. 1661-1699
- >. 5- 1700-1766
(B) Probates and Administration Bonds
- Bdle. 6. 1602-1619
- Bdle. 7. 1620-1727
(C) Executors' Accounts
- Bdle. 8. 1606-1677
- Bdle. g. 1619-1640
- Bdle. 10. 1669-1731
(E) Act Books, including Probates, Administrations, Spiritual Sentences, etc.
- Bdle. ix. 1578-1587
- Bdle. 12. 1620-1608
- Bdle. 13. 1608-1626
- Bdle. 14. 1626-1641 and two entries in 1668-69
- Bdle. 15. 1669-1685 (loose sheets)
- Bdle. 16. 1727-1750
- Bdle. 17. i750-I766
(F) Marriage Licences.
The Calendar now printed is a full list of all the documents in Bundles 1-5 (1576-1766), and such of those in Bundles 6 and 7 as do no appear in Nos. 1-5. The Act Books, Bundles 11-17, have been compared with the documents in Bundles 1-5, and any not appearing there are noted separately in the list preceding Bundle 1. The Executors' Accounts am Citations have not been calendared.
All the above Records, Bundles Nos. 1-17, have now been deposited at the Probate Registry at Blandford.
The names of such of the officials of the Court as appear on the Records are appended:
- 1578, Edward James, B.A., Rector and Official
- —— . Edward Florence, Vicar of Milton, and Official
- 1587, Edward Florence, Notary Public
- 1602, Nicholas Humfrey, Notary Public and Registrar
- 1612-39, Thomas Barnes, Notary Public and Registrar
- 1632, Sampson Morris, Notary Public and Deputy Registrar
- 1639, Robert Munck, Notary Public and Deputy Registrar
- 1668, George Frome, Notary Public and Registrar
- 1680, George Frome, Jun., Notary Public and Registrar
- 1721, Matthew Bowles, Notary Public
- 1820, William Castleman, Notary Public
- 1839, Henry Castleman, Notary Public and Deputy Registrar
- 1856, Edward Castleman, Notary Public and Registrar