Find your ancestors in Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Vols. IX 1671-1675

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Vols. IX 1671-1675

British Record Society volume 67

Published 1942

Introduction to Original Volume

Six years ago the previous volume (No. 61) in this series, was issued, covering the four heavy years of the later Commonwealth - 1657 to 1660. The intervening ten years have been covered by the late J. H. Morrison's calendar, a scholarly work, the appearance of which was welcomed by all who have occasion, for whatever purpose, to consult wills at Somerset House of that period. The present volume supersedes the manuscript calendars for the following years :—

1671. "Duke."

1672. "Eure."

1673. "Pye."

1674. "Bunce."

1675. "Dycer."

The first of these registers is named after Sir Edward Duke of Benhall, Suffolk, who was knighted in 1641 and created a Baronet in 1661; he was father of 29 children by his only wife. The second takes its name from George Eure, 6th Baron Eure; he was a member of the Council of State in 1653, and had the rare distinction of sitting in the House of Commons, as M.P. for the North Riding of Yorkshire, several years after his succession to the title; in 1657 he was persuaded to move up to Cromwell's "Other House". Of Sir Edmund Pye there is little worth noticing except that Parliament found it convenient to fine him £3,065 as a delinquent; in spite of this, he seems to have retained the estate of Bradenham in Buckinghamshire till his death. On the other hand Sir James Bunce, a leather-seller by trade and President (the seventeenth century equivalent of "Hon. Colonel") of the H.A.C. in 1645, was sufficiently attached to the King's cause to suffer imprisonment and confiscation of his estate. Sir Robert Dycer, of Braughing in Hertfordshire, died at the early age of 28, leaving a young son who survived him only three years.

Editorially, the volume is modelled as closely as possible on its predecessors; every attempt has been made to maintain the same high level of accuracy, and it is hoped that all place-names, except a few "irreconcilables", have been at least guessed at. Some of the apparently crazy vagaries of spelling at this period may be due simply to the difficulties which an English clerk would naturally have in entering the name of a place, quite unfamiliar, in Wales, Ireland, or the East Indies. For in spite of the return to activity of the provincial probate courts in 1660 or very soon after, the P.C.C. continued to assert its exclusive jurisdiction over all who had "bona notabilia" or who died outside the British Isles.

Though the individual registers are not as heavy as in the Commonwealth years, they still show great variety among the testators; a Groom of the bedchamber sandwiched between a merchant tailor and a yeoman; a London merchant, trading in Java, jostles a Kidderminster clothier; there are picturesque figures — John Baptist Van Breuseagem of Antwerp, "Merchant, old almoner, and master builder" ; or Jacob Provo, of the ship Successecatch. There is a probate act (but no registered will) of Charles Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox (1640-1672), whose Duchess is supposed to have been the original for Britannia.

Transcribing of the slips from the registers has been carried out by Miss H. G. Thacker; the slips were subsequently checked with the Probate Act Books by the editor; for the Index Locorum the Society is indebted to Miss Marjorie Johnston.

The thanks of the Society are also due to Mr. W. J. Hemp, F.S.A., for so kindly correcting the place-names in the Index Locorum.

J. A.