Explore 3,853 will abstracts from the London, Court of Husting, the oldest civil court of London. The abstracts include details of your ancestor’s belongings, burial place and provides a network of names of friends and family included in the will. Search for your ancestor’s will or use the Full text search and discover if your ancestor was named in someone else’s will.
Each record includes an image and a transcript The detail in each record can vary, but most will include a combination of the following:
Status or occupation
These wills are detailed abstracts (summaries) of the original wills and contain the key information given in the original probate material. Copies of the original wills are held at The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lma
To purchase a copy of the will, contact LMA for an order form. When completing the form, you will need to provide the key information and document references given in the abstract. They will then advise you of the cost and payment methods.
What information from the document do I need to locate the original?
Place / Residence
Year/ date of will
Roll number given in the abstract
A will abstract can give you all names and places appearing in the will (testators, executors, witnesses and beneficiaries) plus incidental information such as relationships, occupations, date of death / burial place and value of estate, where found in the original document. Will abstracts can reveal a network of friends and family. These are in an easy to read format, eliminating the problems incurred in deciphering old handwriting.
These two volumes contain indexed abstracts (summaries) to wills proved in the Court of Husting 1258-1357 and 1358-1688. The Court of Husting was the oldest civil court in London. The court probate jurisdiction within the ancient City of London dates from medieval times through most of the 17th century, when it became obsolete. The court can be traced back to the days of Edward the Confessor. It is believed to have been the County Court of London. At the beginning it was the custom of the court to sit every Monday, but as time went on it became necessary for the court to operate on both Monday and Tuesday.
The testators were often wealthy, male artisans and merchants. Most of the female testators were widows. Married women needed to have permission from their husband to create a will. Furthermore, unmarried women, who may have inherited or owned property, would lose their rights to the property when they married. Due to the law of Coverture, upon marriage, all of a woman’s personal and property rights were subsumed by her husband. The law did not change until the 19th century with the Married Women’s Property Acts.
There are two introductions written for both volumes of will abstracts. The first was written in 1889 and the second, a year later. Both were created by the editor of the volumes R R Sharpe. The introductions include a detailed history of the court, examples of cases, court procedures. The second illuminates the importance of this collection and describes the creation of these two volumes. The introduction and a glossary of probate terms are available in the Useful Links and Resources.