Find your ancestors in Matthews PCC Probate Indexes 1630-1655

Matthews PCC Probate Indexes 1630-1655

Matthews Volumes 1-9

Published 1902

Introduction to Original Volume

The Probate Act Books of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury exist in an almost unbroken series from the year 1526, and are of great value to Antiquarians, not only because, where they exist, they afford a means of obtaining a list of the Wills, Registered and Unregistered, in the Principal Court of Probate, more complete even than the Official Calendars themselves, but more especially because they contain much important information which cannot be found elsewhere.

The value of the 'Year Books of Probates'

In a very large number of cases the Testator's parish cannot be gathered at all from the Will, but may be found by referring to the Probate Act Book for the year. Again, the Probate Acts in the Act Books contain such information as, that the Testator died unmarried, that he - belonged to one parish or county but died in another (a fact often presenting a clue to the Testator's origin not to be gleaned from the' Will itself), that his executor was a minor or already deceased at the time of the Testator's death, etc.

Moreover, the Act Books contain records of second and even third Grants, made sometimes years after the Testator's death in consequence of the coming of age or death of executors or administrators, and thus indirectly giving information as to the latter, which may be of considerable importance.

In the Official Calendars the Testator's county begins to be noted in the year 1631, but is very frequently omitted, and even when it is given there, it is, more often than not, merely that in which he happened to die, when this differed from that to which he really belonged.

These "Year Books of Probates," fully indexed as to each Volume for Places as well as Persons, will therefore be found very useful to compilers of Local and County Histories, as the Probate Acts not only state where the Testator died, but often note changes of residence during his lifetime, and, in cases where a comparison of the Will with the Probate Act shows the Testator to have changed his place of residence in the interval between the making of the Will and his death, the fact will be noted by the Editors.

Also an index which gives the names of Executors as well as Testators will prove invaluable to compilers of Family Histories. The great advantage of such an index is well illustrated by the Year Book for 1630, whose portion of the Index Nominum contains half as many references again as the Official Calendar for that year, while one quarter of the " different" names occurring in the former are not to be found at all in the latter.

Wide jurisdiction

These brief remarks as to the valuable character of the Records known as the Probate Act Books, and the usefulness of extracts from them, with such additions as are contemplated for the Year Books, have a double force when it is remembered that the Prerogative Court of Canterbury exercises a very wide jurisdiction, extending over the greater part of England and the whole of Wales, and that not only are the Wills of persons living, and having property within, its jurisdiction, to be found in this Court, but that the Wills of persons resident in the Province of York, in Scotland, Ireland, the sometime American Colonies, and elsewhere, have been registered there, when the necessary grants of Probate have been made for the administration of property lying within the Province of Canterbury. Wills of persons of other Nationalities have been translated and registered in this Court when they possessed property within its jurisdiction.

Important, however, as are these Records to the Literary Searcher, it must often happen that the labour of referring to the Act Books (whose entries are not arranged alphabetically in the earlier years) on the off-chance of obtaining more information, prevents' him from having possession of very material facts, and it is with the object of making this information readily accessible that the substance of the Probate Act Books is now being edited in " Year Books," which will be so paginated that they may be bound together in short periods to form volumes of a convenient size.

Probate Act Books that are missing

Probate Act Books are missing for the years 1650, 1653, 1654, and 1662 and accordingly extracts for these years will be made from the truncated notes of Probate to be found in the Registers.

To ensure that no Registered Will is missed in compiling these Year Books, the Registers will be carefully searched and the folio noted for purposes of insertion, as each Will is reached in the Register. The Editors hope that none of the clerical errors occurring in the Probate Act Books may escape them, but should this not be so, or should any others find their way into the Year Books, they will be grateful for timely notification of the same for insertion as errata.

In the spelling of the names of places the modern spelling will be adopted, either entirely or in addition to that of the Will or Act Book, while the Testator's name will be given as the Testator himself spelt it, so far as that can be gathered from the Registered Copy of the Will, where it is usually stated whether he attached his signature or mark.

The Editors will also endeavour to note the Testator's parish in every case, but, as this is a matter of some difficulty in many cases, especially with Wales and the border Counties, when the name of the residence or hamlet is alone given in the Will and Probate Act, they will be thankful to be informed of any errors arising in this direction.

London, March, 1902.