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About Cheltenham Probate Abstracts 1660-1740
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Sample page from Cheltenham Probate Abstracts
The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Volume 12
Published 1999
Probate records are a most valuable primary source for the study of social history, local history and family history. Wills and inventories comprise the main probate records, and are supplemented by administrations, accounts and other documents created when disputes arose. Inventories provide insight into household arrangements, household and occupational goods, lifestyle, wealth and status. Wills add to this information and provide evidence of kinship, family sizes, occupations and landholdings.

Inventories and valuations were part of the process of proving wills, but relatively few have survived. There is a reasonably high survival rate for inventories in the period 1660 to 1740 amounting to about 50% in Gloucestershire, but outside this period there are very few.

The probate, i.e. the official proving, of Cheltenham wills was the responsibility of the Consistory Court of the bishop of Gloucester. The records are preserved among the Gloucester Diocesan Records (GDR) in the Gloucestershire Record Office -

Wills and administrations in this collection have been rendered as abstracts, summarising all the information found in the original documents. Inventories are given as full transcripts.

Probate documents included here are all those that specified the deceased as being of Cheltenham parish or one of the places within Cheltenham, namely Arle, Alstone, Naunton, Sandford and Westal. They contain references to property and residents in the adjacent parishes of Prestbury, Charlton Kings, Leckhampton, Swindon, Shurdington, Boddington, Uckington, Staverton and Hatherley, as well as parishes further afield. They are supplemented by a few documents of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), which had jurisdiction when the deceased had property in more than one diocese.

See the full volume introduction (.pdf), which contains a comprehensive analysis of the records.
The records
The wills, administrations and inventories in the Gloucestershire Record Office have been listed and indexed in A Calendar of Wills proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Gloucester, vol. ii, 1660-1800, ed. Edw. Alexander Fry and W.P.W. Phillimore, British Record Society (BRS) vol. 34 (1907); this volume is available online within the National Wills Index BRS Probate Collection.

The lists are complete for 1660-1740 except for some administrations which appear in the Register of Acts and Administrations, GDR 7/7 (1677-1683).

The documents are individually numbered; the wills and administrations are numbered by the year followed by a solidus and a serial number, e.g. GDR 1682/90; inventories are numbered by the year followed by a serial number in brackets, e.g. GDR 1682(88). Wills or administrations appear in sequential order of year and serial number. Where there is a surviving inventory associated with a will, it appears immediately after that will and any other associated documents follow that.

At the end of the text are nine wills and one inventory from the records, now in the Public Record Office, of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, for the period 1660-1700. It has not been feasible to locate the wills of Cheltenham people after 1700 in those records, since the published indexes are by personal names only. The references, for the period 1660-1700, to PRO PROB 11 for the wills and PRO PROB 4 for the inventory, are given in the text below.

The only other probate records for Cheltenham are the Consistory Court Probate Cause Papers (GDR B4/2) and the Act Book (GDR R7/22).
Cheltenham Probate Abstracts 1660-1740 has kindly been made available by The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.

© 1999, 2011 The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society and OMS Services Ltd

See also:  Help searching Cheltenham Probate Abstracts
  Probate Glossary
  Search the collection
  Gloucestershire Record Office
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