Find your ancestors in Probate Records of the Court of The Archdeacon of Sudbury 1354-1700 Vols. I & I

Probate Records of the Court of The Archdeacon of Sudbury 1354-1700 Vols. I & I

British Record Society Volumes 95 & 96

Published 1984

Introduction to Original Volume

The old archdeaconry of Sudbury* was in the diocese of Norwich and the province of Canterbury. The probate records of the archdeaconry were transferred from the Ipswich Probate Registry and deposited in the Bury St. Edmunds and West Suffolk Record Office (now the Bury St. Edmunds Branch of the Suffolk Record Office) in 1955.

The archdeaconry covered the western side of the county of Suffolk, and after 1837, when the deaneries of Stow and Hartismere were transferred from it to the archdeaconry of Suffolk, it became very nearly coterminous with the civil division of West Suffolk, but the probate jurisdiction over the parishes in these two deaneries remained with the Sudbury archdeaconry (see map below).

A few places in western Suffolk were outside the jurisdiction of the archdeaconry. The town of Thetford, in Norfolk, two of whose parishes formerly lay mainly in Suffolk, was in the archdeaconry of Norwich, and the parish of Rushford, in Norfolk, part of which formerly lay in Suffolk, was in the archdeaconry of Norfolk. The three scattered parishes of Moulton, Monks Eleigh and Hadleigh were in the peculiar jurisdiction of the archbishop of Canterbury, and Freckenham, together with the neighbouring parish of Isleham in Cambridgeshire, formed a peculiar of the bishop of Rochester (see map). Bury St. Edmunds is an interesting special case. Its two parishes were in the probate jurisdiction of the sacrist's court of the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539, and this court provides the oldest surviving probate records for Suffolk, beginning in 1354. At the dissolution, jurisdiction passed to the commissary court of the town of Bury St. Edmunds, and so continued for some three centuries more, before being annexed to the archdeaconry in 1844. Wills proved in this court were, however, registered in the archdeaconry from 1566.

The probate records comprise the registers of the sacrist's court from 1354, and of the archdeacon's court from 1439, original wills from c.1500, administration bonds and/or act books from 1544, and inventories from 1573. Inventories were, except in a few cases, filed separately from the wills and administrations, and survive for the periods 1544-1577 and 1640-1817. Other classes of probate record occur only very occasionally in the archive. Thus this is a complete index, in two volumes, to the surviving probate records of the archdeaconry and of the assimilated sacrist's court/Bury St. Edmunds commissary court up to 1700. Outside this jurisdiction, additionally to the small peculiars mentioned, probate jurisdiction was, of course, exercised by the consistory court of Norwich and the prerogative court of Canterbury.

As in the previously published companion index to the probate records of the archdeaconry of Suffolk (Index Library vols. 90, 91, 1979, 1980) surnames have been given whenever possible in the form in which they appear in the original wills and administration bonds, and cross-references have been provided as seemed appropriate. Place names have been standardised in their modern form, following, as far as this could be ascertained, the preferred official usage.

The British Record Society is greatly indebted to Mrs. M.E. Grimwade for carrying out the immense task of compiling the index and for compiling also the indexes of places and occupations; to Mrs. Ruth Serjeant who has borne the arduous burden of editing the index for setting and of checking the proofs; and to Mr. J.S.W. Gibson for help during the production stages of the book. Thanks are also due to the Suffolk County Council and the former West Suffolk County Council for their substantial contribution over the years to the cost of compilation.

Suffolk Record Office
William Serjeant

* in 1914 a new archdeaconry of Ipswich was created from parts of the archdeaconries of Sudbury and Suffolk.