Will Summaries

I have summaries for some 12,000 wills - the best coverage is for the period 1750-1799 followed by 1700-1749.

Some of the background is given in the discussion about the Ecclesiastical Courts and the Laws of Inheritance under which these courts operated - early wills pre 1700 tend to be quite short, often two or more are on one sheet of paper and they may not name the spouse, those of married women might well be indexed under her family rather than married name(particularly true of the more rural parishes). Many wills will also include additional acknowledgements and/or claims made against the estate - these acknowledgements often give detail as to later marriages of the children - some of these legacies might not be paid out of the estate until many years later (sometimes decades later) - several wills request that a child 'cross the book' re legacies left by a deceased spouse i.e. make an official indication that they had received the goods or money. As the courts saw their primary function as providing for the children the administrators of an intestate would be required to produce an inventory of the deceased's effect so that a true division could be made - these inventories can shed considerable light on the domestic situation (some 18th inventories detail the contents of each room).The wills will also include the depositions of witnesses etc. when a will or decree is disputed. Douglas in the first half of the 18th Century was home to many merchants who were there to exploit the 'running trade' - if they died then the court had the difficult and tedious job of determining the estate, the forced sale of goods together with the claims, cross claims and accounts can provide much detail of the commercial aspects though the accompanying will can stretch for near 100 pages.

Note that many of the wills/decrees for married women in period before 1700 might be indexed under there maiden name - where their married name is clear (e.g. by name of husband) they are entered under their married name - a comparison with the newer indices for Episcopal wills and the older index will usually show such changes.
Study of the period pre 1700 has only just been commenced so there will be little coverage for some parishes though there are several summary pages that are still to be merged into those indexed here; that post 1800 will eventually cover up to the 1841 census.

Anything within [] are my comments/interpolations etc, [full] indicates a transcription is available (these will be eventually hyperlinked to actual will)
dates of baptisms etc are generally given in form Par YYYYMMDD where Par is a 3letter abbreviation for parish plus few other churches;
h/o = husband of, w/o = wife of, s/o,d/o = son of,daughter of, sibs = siblings,gfa = grandfather, gmo = grandmother, gch= grandchildren, gdau , gson
inv = inventory included (sometime specific items might be noted).

The basis of the list is the combined index transcribed by Brian Lawson from the microfilmed indices to Archideaconal and Episcopal Courts - these courts often split the wills into 2 or more books thus 1787-1 E indicates 2nd book of Episcopal wills for 1787. Both Archideaconal and Episcopal wills tended to organised into a similar sequence of parishes. The wills were filmed in 1944 by the Mormons though a couple of years were missed and some wills or books jumbled on the film. 18th Century Wills in the Archideaconal Court were numbered and this is reflected in the reference - however Episcopal wills were not numbered and the index to these is often incomplete or erroneous - a card index to the films of these is in the Manx Museum in which the indexers give the film frame number - which at least helps in locating a will (shown as Exxx in my summaries) on the more jumbled films.

I have started on a combined index covering the period 1600 to 1850.


Manx Note Book    [Family History Index]

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