This collection of wills, abstracts of wills and probate records, and parish registers (including births, christenings, and marriages) primarily for families of East Kent, England, was collected by Frank Watt Tyler. Abstracts and wills for those included in this database are an extensive source of information about the station and occupation of the deceased as well as relatives of the individual. The records have added value for family historians because they predate censuses.
Abstracts from a will or probate records, like those included in this collection, are a summary of the most important points of a larger document and they allow readers to quickly assess the important points of the document (although they can contain errors). Probates are the legal examination and distribution of the deceased’s will and usually included an inventory of the deceased’s estate. Historically, wills relate to the inheritance of immoveable goods, such as property, and testaments to the portable goods of the deceased, hence the use of the phrase “last will and testament” (other common terms used in will and probate records). The court also confirmed an executor or executrix to see to the inventory, distribution, and term fulfillment of the will.
Any free male over 14, and any unmarried female over 12 or a widow, could leave a last will and testament, though if land was part of the estate the person did have to be 21. If your ancestor did not leave a will, check for wills of their children, as sometimes these mention land willed to them by their parents.
Some of the above information was taken from:
- Bob Brooke. Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way. Genealogy Today. 2009.
- Donn Devine. Probate Records: An Underutilized Source. Vol. 12 No. 3, Ancestry Magazine, 1994. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry Daily News, 1999.)
- Sherry Irvine. Pre-1858 Probate in England and Wales: Tips for Distance Research, Part 1 & 2. Your English Ancestry: A Guide for North Americans, 2nd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 1998).
Information in these records:
- Surname li>
- Last residence li>
- Date of probate li>
- Relatives or heirs li>
Information that may be in these records:
- Death dates li>
- Location of burial site li>
- Witnesses to the will li>
- Occupation of deceased li>
- Property distribution li>
- Executor of the will li>
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