Find your ancestors in Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of London Vol. II 1489-1570, Introduction to Original Volume

Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of London Vol. II 1489-1570

British Record Society volume 86

Published 1974

Introduction to Original Volume

The choice of dates coveting this, the second volume of the Index, has been largely dictated by the records themselves. The year 1489 saw the inception of a series of volumes parallel to the Will registers and ostensibly intended to record Probate Acts and Acts of Administration. The end of the year 1570 is the date at which both a register and an act book come nearest to completion. The advantage of dealing with volumes in both series which terminate almost coevally need not be stressed.

As far as slight changes in procedure permit the same methods of presentation have been adopted as were used in Volume I. Growing prosperity over the period, however, occasioned an increase in property ownership; to avoid the confusion of too liberal a use of commas and semi-colons, counties only have been separated by semi-colons while parishes within London or in the same county are separated by a hyphen.

A number of entries are marked "void: taken before Cardinal" or an equivalent formula: some of these can be traced and the reference in P.C.C. has been given. Others, and these are all entered in the Act Books, are not identifiable in P.C.C. It must be supposed that as no P.C.C. Administrations survive before 1559 these entries constitute the sole testamentary evidence for the persons concerned. Similar glosses imply transfer to the Archdeaconry Court; in this case the Probate and Administration Act Books do not start until 1564; here again therefore it is probable that such entries in the Commissary Court represent the only testamentary evidence surviving.

The fact that numerically the number of transfers to P.C.C. is not large, and certainly less than 1% of the total, prompts the question why it is not very much larger. There are many testators whose wills mention properties far removed from the jurisdiction of the Commissary Court; there are also persons dying abroad, as Robert Hottofte who is Only mentioned in connection with Normandy, as well as foreigners reĀ­corded as such; there are even what appears to be the majority of the crew of the ship "Minion". All these categories seem to fall within the ovending jurisdiction of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury ai searchers might normally expect to find them there.

One explanation for this state of affairs appears to be zealousness on the part of the staff of the Commissary Court to appropriate all wills possible for the sake of the fees accruing while laxity at the London Seat of P C C permitted over many to escape registration. It may be that the fees represented very different proportions of the total incomes of Bishop and Archbishop.

The Act Books appear to have been used as note books in Court least so far as the first eleven volumes are concerned and few of the proceedings seem ever to have reached a conclusion. As a result ar although it was necessary to relate these notes to the main entry very little additional information is to be gamed from reference to them. The following is the list of Will Registers covered by the present index.

  • The volume formerly known as Lichfield is now 9171/7
  • The volume formerly known as Harvy is now 9171/8
  • The volume formerly known as Bennet is now 9171/9
  • The volume formerly known as Tunstall is now 9171/10
  • The volume formerly known as Story is now 9171/11
  • The volume formerly known as Clyff is now 9171/12
  • The volume formerly known as Harpysfyld is now 9171/13
  • The volume formerly known as Darbyshere is now 9171/14
  • The volume formerly known as Huick is now 9171/15
  • The volume formerly known as (no name) is now 9171/16
  • Act Book references included in this volume cover 9168/1-13. M. F.

London, April 1971