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About British Record Society Probate Collection

Surrey Wills, Pre-1649

British Record Society Volume 99
Published 1990
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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. For more detail see map of Surrey Parishes (.pdf).

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.
For more detail see Archdeaconry of Surrey map.

For more information see Hierarchy of Surrey Church Courts.
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) - www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/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 London Metropolitan Archives. For more details about contacting or visiting the British Library - www.bl.uk

Hampshire Record Office. Winchester - www3.hants.gov.uk/archives.htm - 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 a 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 from - www3.hants.gov.uk/archives/copies-hals.htm. 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 - www.lambethpalacelibrary.org 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; Wimbledon

To obtain a full copy of a will, download an order form from - www.lambethpalacelibrary.org/content/photocopying. 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 (pay per view) via the National Archives online records nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/wills.htm.

The Cathedral Archives and Library, Canterbury holds wills proved in the Court of the Prior (later Dean) and Chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury - canterbury-cathedral.org/history.html. This court had jurisdiction during archiepiscopal 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. They are referenced here in the form; [CCAL: 1500 f ,201]

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 references and they will provide you with a quote for the costs etc.

Surrey History Centre (formerly Surrey Record Office & Guildford Muniment Room) www.surreycc.gov.uk/surreyhistoryservice, London Borough of Lambeth Archives Department www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/LeisureCulture/LocalHistory/Archives.htm, Southwark Local Studies Library www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200161/local_history_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 references and they will provide you with a quote for the costs and payment details.

Alternatively you can visit any of the above listed record repositories personally, details of opening hours etc can be found on their various websites.

FamilySearch www.familysearch.org/#form=catalog has filmed the majority of these probate documents, a microfilm copy of which can be ordered and viewed via your local FamilySearch Family History Center. www.familysearch.org/eng/Library/FHC/frameset_fhc.asp

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)
Understanding the index
Which court or courts are included?
As a union index, it covers all known probate collections / courts for the ancient county of Surrey.

Which diocese is involved?
Surrey was mainly in the Diocese of Winchester.

What does the index include?
All names and places appearing in the will plus incidental information such as occupation where found in the original documents are included in the index.

Names are arranged alphabetically. This means some name variants may not appear clustered together. Names in the index are according to the spelling used in the documents, usually based on the signaturee of the testator.

Dates of wills are given in 'Old Style' or Julian Calendar.

The folio number identifies the group of pages, anywhere from 2 to 16, within which the will's first page appears.
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 spelled 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
Abs Abstract
Admon Administration
BM British Library Manuscripts Department
CCAL Cathedral Archives and Library, Canterbury
esq esquire
gent gentleman
GL Guildhall Library (now at London Metropolitan Archives)
GMR Guildford Muniment Room (now at Surrey History Centre)
HRO Hampshire Record Office
LBLAD London Borough of Lambeth Archives Department
LPL Lambeth Palace Library
PRO Public Record Office (now The National Archives – Kew)
SAC Surrey Archaeological Collections
SRO Surrey Record Office (now at Surrey History Centre)
Swk Southwark
[ ] enclose document references, and any editorial notes, the latter being in italics
< > enclose references to abstracts


See also:  Help searching BRS Probate Collection
  General Abbreviations
  Name Abbreviations
  Place Name Abbreviations
  Introduction to Original Volume
  Search the collection