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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Finding English Wills

If you are researching ancestors in the United Kingdom, be prepared to search a number of different courts and parishes.  The easiest thing to do is to locate the parish which your families attended and search the parish records.  Then, it is necessary to spend some time researching where to locate probate records, such as old wills.  If the family was in London,  the Prerogative Court of Canterbury has records from 1384 to 1858. Now, in the United Kingdom, we are dealing with record kept by various churches and the monarchy, which means that two different religions, catholic and protestant.  During the reign of Henry VIII, England became protestant.  The wars and politics play a strong part in where to research, so one needs to become learned concerning the era of his ancestors. Knowledge is wisdom in where to research.  There are tons of records kept by the monarchies.  The Chancery Court, for example,  was a court of equity in England and Wales and had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of lunatics and the guardianship of infants. The documents were written in Latin and Old English. It is a good idea to be familiar with the manner in which the surname was written. Also, a familiarity with the legal writing of documents is indicated.  The difficulties in reading 17th and 18th century American documents is a piece of cake compared to the old dialogue.  Wills for Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are online as follows:
Georgia Pioneers 
South Carolina Pioneers
Kentucky Pioneers
Virginia Pioneers
North Carolina Pioneers

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  7. (Graduates database from ca 1830 to 1925)
  8. (Digitized Wills in counties of: Carter 1794-1830; Jefferson 1802-1810;Johnson 1839-1900;Unicoi 1878-1887; Washington 1779-1800)
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