Surrey Wills, Pre-1649

British Record Society Volume 99

Published 1990

Read the Original Introduction to BRS Volume 99.

Locating the original documents

Where are the originals held?

The majority of the original wills are no longer at the Guildhall Library, but are now held at The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). To purchase a copy of the will you need to contact LMA for an order form. Upon completing the form you will need to provide all the information given in this index including the source of the information i.e. BRS and the specific church court. They will then advise you of the cost and payment methods etc.

The British Library’s main holding of Surrey probate material is a stray will register from the Archdeaconry Court of Surrey from the early 1540's. Abstracts have been made (and indexed) of all the wills appearing in this register, and copies supplied to various libraries, including the British Library itself, the Surrey History Centre and The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). For more details about contacting or visiting the British Library.

Hampshire Record Office, Winchester has two holdings of Surrey testamentary material. Firstly, it holds the registers of the bishop of Winchester, the main bulk of which are from the medieval registers. Secondly, the bishop proved wills of Surrey testators in the Consistory Court of Winchester at this time. This court was superior to the Archdeaconry Court of Surrey, so tends to have the wills of testators of standing between those proved in the Archdeaconry Court, and those proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). To obtain a full copy of a will, download a standard copy order form. Complete the form (including all references etc) and return along with the fee (a standard charge applies details available on the website) to Hampshire Record Office.

Lambeth Palace Library holds two series of records of Surrey testamentary material. Firstly, many wills, probates and administrations were entered, presumably for safe-keeping, in the registers of the archbishops of Canterbury. While this continued for most of our period, the bulk of such entries date from the medieval period and are not duplicated in the surviving records of any other court. Additionally, there are 481 early wills in a larger series, as a result of the archbishop of Canterbury's direct peculiar jurisdiction over, inter ilia, the Deanery of Croydon. This peculiar comprised the following parishes; Barnes; Burstow; Charlwood; Cheam; Croydon; East Horsley; Merstham; Mortlake; Newington; Putney and Wimbledon. To obtain a full copy of a will, download an order form. Complete the form (including all references etc) and return to Lambeth Palace Library who will advise you of the full cost and payment methods.

The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) The vast majority of the Surrey wills in the National Archives are those proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), which exercised superior jurisdiction over the whole country. Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) can be downloaded via the National Archives online records.

The Cathedral Archives and Library, Canterbury holds wills proved in the Court of the Prior (later Dean) and Chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury. This court had jurisdiction during archepiscopal vacancies in place of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Most of the wills date from the periods 1500-1501 and 1503 and are mainly duplicated in the records of the PPC. To obtain a copy of a will please contact Cathedral Archives and Library, Canterbury by email, letter, fax or telephone quoting full details and will reference and they will provide you with a quote for the costs etc.

Surrey History Centre(formerly Surrey Record Office & Guildford Muniment Room) , London Borough of Lambeth Archives Department and Southwark Local Studies Library. There are no archives of wills as such in these last three record offices. There are, however, a number of stray wills in collections of deeds and other muniments. These wills are presumed copies kept by executors or they may never have gone to probate. Alternatively, they may have been lost from the regular series, which all have gaps and missing items. For copies of wills held by Surrey History Centre, London Borough of Lambeth Archives Department or Southwark Local Studies Library please contact the appropriate archives by email, letter, fax or telephone quoting full details and will reference and they will provide you with a quote for the costs and payment details.

What information from the document do I need to locate the original?

  • Testator's name
  • Place
  • Year of will
  • Full Reference (including box / bundle / volume / folio etc)

About the index

This volume is an union index of all of the surviving pre 1649 probate records including those Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills relating to the ancient county of Surrey. The ancient county of Surrey extended into what is now south London, as far east as Rotherhithe. The Archdeaconry of Surrey consisted of that part of Surrey within the diocese of Winchester and the parish of Bentley in Hampshire, which was originally a chapelry of Farnham. Thirteen parishes in the county formed part of the exempt Deanery of Croydon, a peculiar of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Notes and Abbreviations used in the index

Quick Guide to Finding Documents from Index Entries

  • All references begin with an abbreviation denoting the repository where the item is to be found, except those beginning DW/ which are at the Greater London Record Office (now London Metropolitan Archives). The reference is in three parts, firstly DW/PA/5/ which is the overall reference for original wills of this court, secondly the year, and finally the number of the will within the bundle. The few other places of deposit are spelt out in full.
  • It was the custom in some courts for will registers to be named after the first testator recorded in them, and this was the pre-Commonwealth practice in the Archdeaconry Court of Surrey.
  • All entries which do not include a year within the body of the reference have had one assigned to aid identification.
  • It will generally be found easier to find registered copies of wills (references beginning DW/PA/7/) if using microfilms than original wills (references beginning DW/PA/5/), as the latter were not numbered when the wills were filmed, whereas the registers are foliated, and the folio numbers included in this index.
  • A note has been made in angle brackets <> wherever an abstract is known to exist, usually in print. Where such a note is found, the searcher should refer to the note on abstracts on page xlvii of the original volume introduction. Abstracts are continually being made, and in this respect, the index is bound to be out of date before it is published.
  • Where an abstract of a will is available, this has been noted in angle brackets. S.A.C. refers to the Surrey Archeological Society's Collections; for the printed calendars to registers Spage and Herringman [DW/PA/7/1 and DW/PA/7/7] merely the abstract number within the printed volume has been given, and this practice has been followed with the abstracts now being made to other will sequences. A similar practice has been followed with regard to the printed abstracts to the PCC will registers Soame (1620) and Scroope (1630). Comprehensive notes have been made of will abstracts in the Surrey Archaeological Collections but no other journals or other secondary works have been searched for them.

  • Abbreviations

    Abbreviation Meaning
    BMBritish Library Manuscripts Department
    CCALCathedral Archives and Library, Canterbury
    GLGuildhall Library (now at London Metropolitan Archives)
    GMRGuildford Muniment Room (now at Surrey History Centre)
    HROHampshire Record Office
    LBLADLondon Borough of Lambeth Archives Department
    LPLLambeth Palace Library
    PROPublic Record Office (now The National Archives – Kew)
    SACSurrey Archaeological Collections
    SROSurrey Record Office (now at Surrey History Centre)
    [ ]enclose document references, and any editorial notes, the latter being in italics
    < >enclose references to abstracts