The government’s consultation on the storage and retention of wills: my response

I use wills all the time for my family history research, and for local history research too. They might come from county archives, or from the National Archives’ Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills, they might come from the National Library of Scotland. And sometimes, they might be from the centrally-managed collection of wills for England and Wales, which have been accumulating steadily since 1858 to the present day.

The government’s plan, in order to save money, is to digitise all of the wills and ditch the originals, apart from wills of famous people, and with a rolling wall to avoid binning anything that’s too recent and could cause upset (“sentimental reasons”), as they put it, or because the original needs to be referred to in case of a dispute. It’s a bit confusing because recent wills are originals – you get a scan of a document that’s been typed or printed, but older wills are clearly from a register of wills and I assume the originals of those are long gone. It’s unclear whether they mean to bin the registers of historical wills too.

There are several problems with the proposal.

Continue reading →

Wivenhoe Poor Law records

I’m transcribing Poor Law records for Wivenhoe, Essex. There’s a variety of records – people who arrived in Wivenhoe who were “settled” elsewhere, apprenticeships, people leaving Wivenhoe to move further afield, and more. While nearby places such as Colchester, Elmstead and East Donyland frequently come up in the records, there’s some surprising links with places in Yorkshire, Cumberland, and County Durham. It’s worth taking a look!

More Bures St Mary records

Photo by Cindy Lilley

I first started to transcribe parish registers for Bures St Mary in Suffolk some years ago, and I’m now carrying on, working through to the mid-1700s. I’ve just added baptisms 1660-1700. Lots more transcriptions for Bures St Mary in the way!

Note: Bures St Mary is in Suffolk, but part of the parish – Bures Hamlet – is just over the River Stour in Essex. And in Essex, you’ll find another parish nearby, called Mount Bures. If someone lived in Bures Hamlet, they would appear in the records for Bures St Mary, as that’s officially the parish they live in. If someone says “Bures in Essex”, always make sure you check if they mean Mount Bures or Bures Hamlet. And it’s pronounced Bewers, which is sometimes how you’ll find it spelled too.