Books of wills

As well as ordering wills from the record offices in Essex and Suffolk, their wills for certain periods appear in printed books. They’re indexed by testator, and often by beneficiary too, so you may well find yourself breaking down those brickwalls!

Digitised copies of original wills are available from ERO’s Essex Archives Online (all surviving original wills available) and SRO’s The Hold (many original wills available immediately, others can be ordered), however, the further back you go, the fewer original wills remain. This means having to rely on registered wills on microfilm, which can only be accessed by visiting the archive, or ordering a digital image or photocopy.

Having these books on your shelves will allow you to have instant access to wills for the periods covered, with the bonus of indexes in the back!

Essex

Essex Wills: The Archdeaconry Courts, 1577-1584, abstracted and edited by F. G. Emmison, published by the Essex Record Office, in collaboration with The Friends of Historic Essex, 1987

This book is out of print, but you might strike it lucky and find a second-hand copy on Abebooks or Amazon.

Suffolk

Suffolk is split in half, with two archdeaconries: the archdeaconry of Sufolk in the east, and the archdeaconry of Sudbury in the west. These are all published by the Suffolk Records Society, and as their books go out of print, they make them available free on their website as an ebook.

Archdeaconry of Suffolk

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1620-1624, abstracted and edited by Marion E Allen, published by the Suffolk Records Society, vol 31, 1989. ISBN: 0851155308 (hardback)

Read it online for free, or find a second-hand copy.

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1625-1626, edited by Marion E Allen, published by the Suffolk Records Society, vol 37, 1994.

Order from the SRS, or find a second-hand copy.

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1627-1628, edited by Marion E Allen, published the Suffolk Records Society, vol 58, 2015

Order from the SRS or find a second-hand copy.

Archdeaconry of Sudbury

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, 1439-1474, part I, 1439-1461, edited by Peter Northeast, published by the Suffolk Records Society, vol 44, 2010.

Order from the SRS, or find a second-hand copy.

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, 1439-1474, part II, 1461-1474, edited by Peter Northeast and Heather Falvey, published by the Suffolk Records Society, vol 53, 2010.

Read online for free, order from the SRS, or find a second-hand copy.

Index of Wills of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, 1439-1471, by Peter Northeast and Heather Falvey, published by the Suffolk Records Society, companion to vols 44 & 53, 2010.

Order from the SRS, or find a second-hand copy. Vols 44 & 53 are indexed by testator only – presumably this companion volume indexes beneficiaries, places, occupations etc.

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, 1630-1635, edited by Nesta Evans, published by the Suffolk Records Society, vol 29, 1987.

Order from the SRS, or find a second-hand copy.

Wills of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, 1636-1638, edited by Nesta Evans, published by the Suffolk Records Society, vol 29, 1992.

Order from the SRS, or find a second-hand copy.

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Elsewhere

Prerogative Court of Canterbury

Index of Wills and Administrations now preserved in the Probate Registry at Canterbury, 1396-1558, and 1640-1650, trans by Henry R Plomer, Kent Records 1920.

Read online at archive.org

Lancashire and Cheshire

Lancashire and Cheshire Wills and Inventories from the Ecclesiastical Court, Chester, part 1, ed Rev G J Piccope, The Cheshire Society, vol 33, 1857.

Read online at archive.org

Lancashire and Cheshire Wills and Inventories from the Ecclesiastical Court, Chester, part 2, ed Rev G J Piccope, The Cheshire Society, vol 51, 1860.

Read online at archive.org

Lancashire and Cheshire Wills and Inventories from the Ecclesiastical Court, Chester, part 3 [with index to all 3 parts], ed Rev G J Piccope, The Cheshire Society, vol 54, 1861.

Read online at archive.org

For more Lancashire and Cheshire books, see The Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

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