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Probate Jurisdictions: Where to look for wills
Devon Wills Project  1164-1992
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About the Devon Wills Project 1164-1992
This index has been created as a combined project by and the Devon Wills Project (DWP). DWP is a co-operation involving the Devon Family History Society, Devon Heritage Services, GENUKI/Devon, and the Plymouth and West Devon RO to compile an index of Devon wills, administrations, etc. The index shows where copies, transcripts, abstracts or extracts of such original testamentary documents may be found, and in many cases the whereabouts of the original documents themselves.

The majority of wills and administrations of Devon people were proved or granted in either in Devon itself or in London. The originals of those wills proved in London (very nearly all at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, "PCC") have survived. However many probate records for the county of Devon and Diocese of Exeter including the Exeter Principal Registry were destroyed by enemy action in 1942, when the Probate Registry was destroyed in the bombing during the Exeter Blitz of WWII. Thus the overall aim of this index is to create a finding-aid to enable the researcher to determine what probate materials were originally recorded and most importantly what documents have survived (original document, copy or abstract) and where they can be located.
Sources currently online
The current index includes over 300,000 records of probate documents compiled from almost 550 sources.

See full details of available and upcoming sources
Locating surviving documents
Having done a search, if you discover an entry which is of interest to you:
  • Check the Document Form column to see whether an original, copy, transcript or abstract of the will has survived and is available. If List Entry (le) is displayed, then, sadly, no original, copy, transcript or abstract could be located. See Abbreviations

  • For more details on the source of the index record click the link under Source column. A popup window will display detailed information on the source and indicate how to view or obtain a copy of that particular will, administration or inventory.

  • If a source is shown as 'MISC', click on the link Miscellaneous Minor Sources. On the Miscellaneous Minor Sources page look for the code or name you recorded from the 'Reference' Column. Note the precise details given of the relevant minor source (e.g. Hooper2: Hooper, Hilda J. Pedigrees to the name Hooper, Howper, Hoper etc. Manuscript volume (c.1950) [LMA]). The minor source will often be a book or periodical, which could be sought at a good reference library. If the minor source is not a published one, then the details given will indicate its location - the London Metropolitan Archives in this example.

  • There will be cases where there are several entries (from different Sources) relating to the same original will or administration, e.g. identifying where an official copy of a will is held, and the locations of transcripts and/or abstracts of this will. You should be able to work out which source would be most convenient for you to inspect. Note also that index entries referring to the same will or administration may differ minutely, due to inconsistencies among the various Sources, transcription errors, etc.

  • For more on the Devon Wills Project and how to use it in your research see About Devon Wills Project 1164-1992