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Lincolnshire Wills, Probate, Administrations & Inventories.

Until 1858 probate matters in Lincolnshire were the responsibility of ecclesiastical courts. From the sixteenth century, wills were proved by a number of separate courts within the diocese, mostly at an Archdeaconry level. The Archdeaconry of Lincoln was under the jurisdiction of the bishop’s Lincoln Consistory Court (LCC) whilst the north west of the county was under the jurisdiction of the Archdeaconry of Stow. There were also certain parishes, called Peculiars, which were exempt from the Diocesan authority, and administered by the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral or by the courts of individual Prebends. England and Wales were covered by two higher Archbishops’ Courts: the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC); and the Prerogative Court of York (PCY). These courts generally dealt with the probate matters of the landed gentry and persons with property in more than one diocese. Lincolnshire lay in the province of Canterbury and the records of the PCC are now held at the National Archives, Kew. However, a few Lincolnshire people appear among the records of the PCY, now held at the Borthwick Institute, York. Wills are legal documents which determine the disposal of a person’s possessions after death, the will being taken to the relevant court to be proved. Wills were recorded in the Bishops Registers and records of the Dean and Chapter until the sixteenth century. From the sixteenth century onwards they appear among the records of the various ecclesiastical courts. When the deceased left money or property, but no will, their next-of-kin could be granted ‘Letters of Administration’. This allowed them to wind-up Lincolnshire Deaneriesthe estate of the deceased. Administrations (Admons) were dealt with by the same courts as wills and they can also occur if a will was disputed. Probate valuation, until the 1890s, reflected the personal estate and money of the testator; it did not represent the value of real estate, houses or buildings. These inventories were also dealt with by the same courts. In 1858 probate functions were taken from the ecclesiastical courts. A centralised Principal Probate Registry was established in London, together with a series of District Probate Registries. Copies of post-1858 wills can be ordered from Postal Searches and Copies Department, Leeds District Probate Registry, York House, York Place, Leeds LS1 2BA. Original copies of documents prior to 1858 can be obtained from The Lincolnshire Archives, St. Rumbold Street Lincoln, LN2 5AB.

The following reference works are available:

Foster, C.W. - Calendar of Lincoln Wills vol I, 1320-1600 (London: British Record Society Index Library vol XXVIII, 1902) [Contains Indexes of wills in the Bishops’ Registers, 1320-1547, miscellaneous “Aylmer Wills”, 1489-1588, and LCC Wills, 1506-1600.]   Calendar of Lincoln Wills I Download here
Foster, C.W. - Calendar of Lincoln Wills vol II, Consistory Court Wills, 1601-1652 (London: British Record Society Index Library vol XLI, 1910)   Download here
Haines, Grace & Foster, C.W. - Index of Lincoln Consistory Court Wills and Inventories 1660-1700 (London: British Records Society Index Library vol 101, 1991)
Foster, C.W. - Calendar of Administrations in the Consistory Court of Lincoln 1540-1659 (London: British Record Society Index Library vol LII, 1921, and Horncastle: Lincoln Record Society vol 16 for 1918, 1921)   Calendar of Administrations Download here
Foster, C.W. - Calendars of Wills and Administrations at Lincoln vol IV (Archdeaconry of Stow; Peculiar Courts; and Miscellaneous Courts) (London: British Record Society Index Library vol LVII, 1930) [Contains indexes of: Stow wills, probates & admons, 1530-1699; Dean & Chapter wills & admons, 1534-1834; Wills etc. of Various Peculiars within the Diocese, 1508-1834; Miscellaneous wills, probates & admons, bundles A-H; and Sundry Wills and Administrations in the Lincoln Diocesan Registry, 1508-1608.
Spufford, Peter - Index to the Probate accounts of England & Wales (London: British Record Society vols 112 & 113, 1999)
Lincolnshire Wills & Administrations in the Prerogative and Exchequer Courts of York, May 1731 to January 1858, extracted from the probate indexes in the Borthwick Institute, York. Lincolnshire Family History Society.
Gibbons, Alfred - Early Lincoln Wills: an Abstract of all the Wills & Administrations recorded in the Episcopal Registers of the Old Diocese of Lincoln …1282-1547 (Lincoln: 1888)   Download here
Maddison, A.R. - Lincolnshire Wills First Series A.D. 1500-1600 (Lincoln: 1888)   Maddison First Series Buy a print copy £14.99
Maddison, A.R. - Lincolnshire Wills Second Series A.D. 1600-1617 (Lincoln: 1891)   Maddison Second Series Buy a print copy £14.99   Lincolnshire Wills Download here
Foster, C.W. - Lincoln Wills Registered in the District Probate Registry at Lincoln Vol I A.D. 1271 to A.D. 1526 (Lincoln: Lincoln Record Society vol 5 for 1912, 1914) Read at British History Online
Foster, C.W. - Lincoln Wills Registered in the District Probate Registry at Lincoln Vol II, A.D. 1505 to May, 1530 (Horncastle: Lincoln Record Society vol 10 for 1914, 1918) Read at British History Online
Foster, C.W. - Lincoln Wills Registered in the District Probate Registry at Lincoln Vol III A.D. 1530 to 1532 (London: Lincoln Record Society vol 24 for 1927, 1930) Read at British History Online
Hickman, David - Lincoln Wills 1532-1534 (Lincoln Record Society vol 89, 2001)
Johnston, J.A. - Probate Inventories of Lincoln Citizens 1661-1714 (Lincoln Record Society vol 80 for 1989, 1991)
Foster, C.W. - Lincolnshire Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1384-1468 (Associated Architectural Societies’ Reports and Papers vol 41, pp 61-114 (Lincoln, 1935))
Foster, C.W. - Lincolnshire Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1471-1490 (Associated Architectural Societies’ Reports and Papers vol 41, 179-218 (Lincoln, 1935))
Foster, C.W. - Abstracts of Lincoln Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 1639 - 1655 (Supplement to Lincolnshire Notes & Queries)
Lincolnshire Wills Proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1653 to 1660, British Record Society Vol. VII and Vol. VIII.    Lincolnshire Family History Society (£4.50)
Calendar of Lincolnshire Consistory Court Wills, 1701 – 1800. View online
Calendar of Lincoln Consistory Court Wills, 1801-1858 Download
Calendar of Lincoln Consistory Court Administrations, 1800-1857 Download
Archdeaconry of Stow Wills, 1700-1834 Download
Archdeaconry of Stow Administrations, 1700-1834 Download
Lincoln Probate Sub-Registry Wills, 1858-1910


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