Updated 11 Jul 2005

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Wills FAQ

Here are some tips and explanations about Wills and Administrations, produced by Michael Spencer [mike@decc9.fsnet.co.uk] at various times as he has transcribed over 36,000 records. And one by Alan Bloor.

Pre-1858 Derbyshire Wills

You need to write to Lichfield Records Office at The Friary, Lichfield WS13 6QG or e mail them at [lichfield.record.office@staffordshire.gov.uk] as they have the Derbyshire Wills from before 1858. They will send you a photocopy for 50p a page plus postage. They may or may not charge you a search fee depending on how easy it is to locate the will in their indexes.

Alan Bloor

Mike gives some tips on finding the right Will:

example: SKIDMORE John 1860 Matlock

All Wills proved at Derby Probate Office between 1858-1928 for the Surname
Skidmore are listed below that surname heading. If you are looking for Alfred
Skidmore but his name does not appear, he did not leave a Will proved at Derby.
That's the way it goes sometimes.

The year. This year is the year the Will was proved, usually the same year
but sometimes the next, sometimes because of disputes etc, it could be years.
So if for example you notice the same name, same place but wrong year by a
number of years, if your suspicions are aroused, it may be worth checking
this Will out, it may be your ancestors Will being proved years after his
death. One thing I have noticed that when requesting Wills from me, some have
ancestors who died, let's say latter part of a year,say 1875. So they have
seen the Will list, asked for Joe Bloggs 1875, because thats when he died,
but the Will was proved in 1876. Just a small point but it does help when
checking them out for you. Please make sure you use the Will date ,otherwise
I an looking through the wrong book and going slowly but surely mad. OK,
that's enough of that.I do not need your agreement on this latter point!

Name; Self explanatory, but remember some people may have been known by other
names ,pet names all their life, my cousin Stuart is really Reginald,(I can
see why he changed) but on official doc's he is Reginald. Presumably Wills
are the same. 

Place; this is where the testator was living when they wrote their Will. They
may have moved later to the place where they eventually died, so it may be
that John Skidmore wrote his Will in Matlock but died at say Chesterfield.
You may have a burial of him at Chesterfield, but because his name does not
appear on the list as of Chesterfield you may dismiss this Matlock Will as
your ancestor. Off course these are extreme cases, but if they were easy you
would have find them, wouldn't you. You have to look for the less obvious.
So if you tie in the year, name but the place is not right,then it is possible
it just might be. If you want me to check these out, please give me some sort
of indication of what I should be looking for, occupation for example, wife's
name,childrens name, not ages.

Now to the Wills, I have not checked John Skidmores Will so to all intents
and purposes he is off Matlock and did not die in Chesterfield. Then again..

Mike gives a few thoughts about ADMINISTRATIONS

So your ancestor died but he didn't leave a Will, but he had goods etc who 
took control, who administered the estate. The Admin list gives the name of 
those who died, if over two years previous to Administration the year of 
death, also if it is not husband or wife, or child it lists those who did 
administer including nieces and nephews. In addition a wife may have 
re-married and even moved away, they are also listed.

These Admins cover more than is listed here, depending on the circumstances 
they may reveal date of death, occupations, children and ages, if a wife 
remarried, who acted as sureties other references like died sea and name of 
ship (not on this particular list) and people who started to Admin estate 
but died themselves soon afterwards,people who are acting as guardians to 
children and value of estate. They are a mine of information. They do not 
contain, obviously bequests, because as you are aware they are not Wills.

Remember those entries without a date died either 1860 or 1861. For those 
entries without an Administrator named means it's usually the surviving 
mate,or child.If however it gives an address or place different from the 
deceased I have made a notatation

Check that some people died years before, No's. 23-27 and others. Also where 
they died. Not always where they lived, not always Derbyshire.

Remember there is possibly more disclosed on these Admins than I can record 
here. For those who died outside the County it will give date of death and 
place. A very useful indicator which quarter to search for the death 

Remember these Administrations cover more details than can be listed here. 
Most died either in the year of Administration or the year before. Those who 
did not are listed with the year of death. The names in capitals are of 
those who died,other names mentioned relate to whom the Administration was 
granted or other relatives to enable a better identification and also places 
where these people, often married daughters, re-married widows or sons now 
live. Those with no names do have Administrators who are basically husband 
or wife,son or daughter or even mother or father generally living in the 
same place .

So you had an ancestor who died,had property but did not leave a 
Will. Who administered the estate. Many cases it was the wife or children 
but not always so. In the list below any Administration granted to a spouse 
or child of the deceased will be left blank basically unless there are 
details that may give you some family history in which case I have noted 
them. In other cases I list to whom Admin. has been granted. Most of the 
Admins were granted within a year or two of death, so the year 1864 is the 
year that Admininistration was granted,.not always the year of death.If a 
death falls either in the year of Admin or a year or two before I have not 
listed it as such but left it blank, which you will see is the majority of 
cases. Some Administrations were granted many years after death in which 
case the year of death will be recorded. 

Administrations give other names as well, including details 
of who is the guardian to orphans, which orphans often went to live with 
their guardian sometimes miles away from the parish in which thier parent 
died. Value of effects, where they died which in the list above is shown, 
but it is usually where they lived. They list creditors who after the wife 
has renounced Administration take over any remaining assets, sometimes 
leaving the family to the horrors of the work house.

Elizabeth WILDSMITH 1872 Alvaston died 1864 Samuel WILDSMITH Innkeeper
In the entry above the person who died intestate, that is, without leaving a 
Will is Elizabeth Wildsmith, she lived in Alvaston and although the Admin 
was granted in 1872 Elizabeth died in 1864. The Admin will give you the exact 
date. The Administration of her affairs was granted to Samuel Wildsmith, whose 
relationship to Elizabeth will also be recorded on the Administration 
document,in this case he was her husband. His occupation of Innkeeper is 
also recorded as are the occupations or marital status of most of the 
deceased. To save time I have simply not listed occupations but you will 
find them on the documents. The one above is just an example, a correct 
example mind you ,he was an Innkeeper.

John ASHTON 1872 Charlesworth mentions Robert ASHTON Oldham Road, Manchester, John ASHTON.
In the entry above we find the evidence that one of John ASHTON's children 
Robert had moved into a neighbouring County. It may be on checking the 
Census you couldn't find your ancestor in the area you hoped he would be in.
People move, some of you were once in England. Robert only moved to 
Manchester but no one told you. Now you have his address from the Admin and 
you can go pick up the pieces. For many of the people who are listed as 
living outside the local area full street address is given including number 
of house. I have listed only the town they were living in.

Frederic George DENTON 1872 Clay Cross mentions Emma DENTON
In the entry above Emma Denton is the Administrator. However it does not 
necessarily mean she is Frederic's wife. She could be his daughter, an aunt, 
a sister or mother or even grand-mother. On the lists I have not recorded 
these details,time is of the essence.

Paul TURNER 1872 Brampton mentions Emma CROFTS, Wilfred CROFTS Sheffield
In the entry above although not in this case ,if you saw the womans surname 
as different from the deceased it is possible it is a daughter or sister 
being mentioned. However it could also be that the female has re-married and 
moved away. Generally speaking that would mostly occur in Admins where the 
person died a few years before the Admin grant.

All Admins give the value of the Estate from as little as five pounds to 
thousands of pounds. They do not show bequests because they are not Wills.In 
some cases where Wills have been made,the person responsible for Administering 
the Will has died before it could be done. In that case new Administrators 
are appointed and these are also in the Administration documents.

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