Find your British ancestor among the Surrey and South London wills between 1470 and 1856. The area covered includes the old county of Surrey in the southeast of England, which contains parts of South London. The abstracts reveal a summary of the details contained in each will.
Most of collection contains abstracts or summaries of original will records held at the London Metropolitan Archives. A small portion of the collection is an index to wills; these do not contain a full summary. The amount of information will vary depending on the type of record you access, but you will find a combination of the following about your ancestor:
Place of residence
Date of will
County and country
Contents – contains facts of the will, including details of beneficiaries and bequests
Within the collection you will find abstracts or summaries for Surrey and South London Wills, 1470-1856, as well as an index of Surrey Wills and Administrations in the Peculiar Court of the Deanery of Croydon, 1660-1751.
This collection holds more than 250,000 will abstracts taken from the will registers held at the London Metropolitan Archives. Originals would often have been retained by the person who made the will, the testator, or their personal solicitor. The will registers contain the details taken down from office copies of the wills. Each abstract transcript contains a reference to the original register, which can provide further details about locating the office copy of the original will. Every person named in a will has been indexed, so you will find the names of many people mentioned in wills besides the actual testator: in fact, there can be a dozen or more people named other than the testator.
The names appearing in older wills often appear in a variety of obsolete spellings. In the actual abstract, Christian names have generally been rendered into modern standard form, but surnames have been left in their manuscript forms. However, in the index, surnames have been entered in modern form but often with multiple variants. So even searching for an ‘exact match’ will allow you to find records where the actual spelling might have been unusual. The abstracts include all personal names (testator, beneficiaries, executors, witnesses, overseers, and others) with their relationships; place names; occupations; bequests of money and, in most cases, bequests of furniture, livestock, clothes, and other possessions; and descriptions of lands, plus full transcriptions of inventories, where these were attached to the will. Unnecessary legal repetition has been removed.
Names are arranged alphabetically. This means some name variants may not appear clustered together. Names in the index are according to the spelling used in the documents, usually based on the signature of the testator.
Pre-1752 dates are given in 'Old Style' or Julian calendar. From 1752, dates are given according to the Gregorian calendar.
Many wills are annotated with the value of the inventory and, occasionally, with the date the inventory was taken. This information has been added in round brackets at the end of the will, after the reference. Where inventories were attached to the will they have been fully transcribed. Before 1858, all wills had to be proved in the ecclesiastical Church of England courts. After this date, that function was taken over by the civil courts.