Northamptonshire Administrations and Inventories Part II 1711-1800

British Record Society volume 92

Published 1980

Introduction to Original Volume

It is unusual to publish a volume 38 years after the death of its compiler. The Reverend Henry Isham Longden (1859-1942), the well known Northamptonshire antiquary, left a legacy in his will for the publication of some of his calendars of Northamptonshire probate material.

Long ago the unfortunate decision was taken to begin by publishing his calendars of administrations and inventories rather than the far more useful calendars of wills. In 1947 the first volume of his calendar of administrations and inventories was published by the British Record Society and appeared in the Index Library as Volume 70. The present volume, begins in 1711, where that volume left off, and its publication exhausts the legacy left by Mr. Isham Longden. This means that no more of his numerous calendars to Northampton probate records can be published in the foreseeable future.

From the 1590's until its abolition in 1857 the probate jurisdiction of the archdeaconry court of Northampton covered the deaneries of Brackley, Daventry, Haddon, Higham, Northampton, Preston and Rothwell, in other words the larger part both of the administrative county of Northamptonshire and of the diocese of Peterborough.

After being moved from Northampton to Birmingham the records of this court are now again back in Northampton in the care of the county's chief archivist in the record office at Delapre Abbey. The principal documents of the archdeaconry court are the wills from 1469 to 1857 and the administrations from 1510 to 1857. Of the wills only those proved between 1510 and 1652 have a published calendar, Index Library I (1888). Mr. Isham Longden compiled manuscript calendars of the wills from 1469 to 1504 and from 1660 to 1857. For the administrations and associated documents much more has been published.

In his lifetime Mr. Isham Longden contributed abstracts of some 700 Administrations, granted in the Archdeaconry Court of Northampton, to Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica and these, with an index, were subsequently reprinted as a separate book (1939). These covered the years 1545-6; 1638-1641, 1660-1676. Volume 70 of the Index Library, edited for the British Record Society by Miss Lucy Drucker, contained an alphabetical calendar, arranged by year, of some 4000 administrations granted by the same court from 1677 to 1710.

Inventories frequently survive and were calendared with the administrations. In addition two bundles of some three hundred separated inventories, from the period 1660 to 1710, were calendared at the end of the volume, and the whole indexed for all the names given: deceased, administrators, sureties, appraisers, and guardians.

Similar full calendars were made by Mr. Isham Longden for the later administrations and inventories. If this full format had been published in the present volume it would not have been possible to include the 6,500 or so remaining eighteenth century administrations within the scope of such a volume as the Society can afford to publish at the present level of prices. Mrs. Clare Baggott has therefore edited Mr. Isham Longden's calendars for the Society into a single much more succinct index.

The material covered by the present volume covers:

  • Administrations from 1711 to 1724 inclusive, including also the inventories, wills, accounts and letters of guardianship which are bundled up in the annual bundles of administrations. Of these inventories are by far the most common.
  • Administrations from 1725 to 1800 inclusive, including related inventories, accounts and letters of guardianship, excerpted by Mr. Isham Longden from the mixed annual bundles of wills and administrations.
  • Inventories from 1711 to 1797, from the separate bundle of inventories.
  • Administrators' Accounts from 1665 to 1685, from the separate bundle of accounts.

Mr. Isham Longden's full original notes on these documents are to be found in volumes XXIV and XXVII of the Isham Longden MSS bequeathed to the Northamptonshire Record Society and kept at Delapre Abbey, Northampton.

In cutting down Mr. Isham Longden's notes, Mrs. Baggott left out the sureties for the administrators, since it is highly unlikely that any user of these documents will want to approach them from the point of view of these sureties, especially as many of them were patently irrelevant, such as the mythical 'John Doe' or Edward Scriven, maltster of Northampton who was repeatedly brought into court as a nominal surety.

He appeared as such 127 times between 1677 and 1706, occasionally twice in one day. Mrs. Baggott also left out the appraisers of the inventories, whom Mr. Isham Longden had assiduously noted down, since it again seemed unlikely that any user of the documents would want to approach them from the appraisers point of view. The appraisers were most frequently drawn from the leading men of the local community in which the dead man or woman had been living.

What you'll find in this volume

The entries are a very great deal fuller than is now normal in a British Record Society publication. As in other volumes of the Index Library the entries begin with the surname and christian name of the deceased, and the parish within which he or she lived, together with his or her occupational designation. In most volumes of the Index Library this would be followed directly by a document reference. However in this volume details of the deceased are followed by the christian name of the Administrator, together with his or her surname if different from the deceased's, the occupation of the administrator and his or her relationship to the deceased.

In addition wills are mentioned if applicable. Where letters of guardianship are involved the name or names of the minor(s) have been retained. Where inventories are available, the total values of goods appraised have also been retained in the index for the benefit of social historians to provide an easily accessible standard against which the wealth of individuals may be compared.

The index is arranged continuously for all categories of documents. The entries are grouped under the most common spelling for the surname. Under each surname the entries are arranged chronologically rather than alphabetically by christian name. For the benefit of local historians a supplementary index of place names is provided. Various places have been identified with the aid of the Northamptonshire volume of the English Place Name Society's Publications, and the spelling of Northamptonshire place names standardised in accordance with it.

However the spelling of places outside the county is that of Mr. Isham Longden's notes, which is presumably that of the documents themselves. For the benefit of social historians a supplementary index of trades and conditions has been provided, and there is, in addition, a supplementary index of other personal names, for administrators, minors for whom letters of guardianship survive, and any others of a different surname from the deceased.

How to use the volume

To find an administration. Look under the surname of the deceased. From 1711 to 1725 the references are to the year bundle of administrations and to the document numbers within the bundles.
After 1725 the references are to the combined year bundles of wills and administrations, followed by the day and month.

To find an inventory without administration. Look under the surname of the deceased. The entry will specify 'Inv. Only'.
If the inventory is in the bundle of some four hundred separate inventories the reference gives the year followed by the document number. Ask for the inventory bundle 1700-97 and give the document number. If the inventory is to be found in the administration bundles, the reference is to the year bundle, followed, up to 1725, by the document number and the letter A. Ask for the administration bundle for the year and give the document number: After 1725, if in the mixed bundles, the reference is in the same form as for administrations, the year bundle followed by day and month.

Letters of guardianship - These are normally found with other probate documents under the name of the deceased. However occasionally they are to be found alone. They are indexed under the name of the person whose death gave rise to the need for a guardian, not by the name of the child or children. The index of 'other persons' must therefore be used to find the children. The documents themselves can be found in the same way as administrations.

Administrators' Accounts - These are relatively rare, and a bundle of 170 separate accounts is quite unusual. They cover the period from 1665 to 1685 and have been separated from their letters of administration, many of which will be found to have already been indexed by Mr. Isham Longden in his earlier indexes of administrations and inventories. They should, properly, have been put into Volume 70 of The Index Library, but since they were omitted then, are included now. The entry makes clear that only an account is involved, and the reference is to the year followed by the document number. Ask for the accounts bundle for 1665—85 and give the document number.