The Society hold thousands of both original and copied, abstracts and transcripts of probates and wills dating as far back as the 1400’s. Many of the wills are unprobated, which means County record offices would not be aware of their existence. Over the years, the Society has collected copies and abstracts of Irish wills, the originals of which were destroyed in the Irish Civil War of 1922. These include, for example, the volumes known as Welpley’s Irish wills and pleadings which contain some 20 volumes of abstracts from Irish wills, Chancery & Exchequer cases, Guardianships, Deeds, Marriage Settlements, etc which are all prior to the 1922 fire at the Irish record offices.

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The Bank of England Will Extracts

The Society is very proud of rescuing the Bank of England Will extracts that were due to be destroyed in 1985. These large volumes date from 1717 – 1845 and list the details of burials and those that were declared ‘lunatic’. These fascinating documents contain the will extracts of many well known and influential people such as Lord Nelson, Duke of Wellington and Charles Dickens.

This extract is from the will of Lawrence Spencer senior who was clerk of works to the building of St Paul’s Cathedral by Sir Christopher Wren. He inherited the Lottery annuity stock mentioned in the abstract after administering the estate of his son Lawrence junior. Other records show that he also invested in South Sea Stock using capital from the Cathedral building fund but sold his investment at a profit before the bubble burst. Lawrence Spencer senior outlived two of his three wives and his children and died not knowing whether his youngest son was alive or dead as he had last been heard of in St Kitts. Lawrence was buried within the Cathedral along with his first wife Dorothy Bradshaw and an unidentified infant child.

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Suggested lecture, leaflet and visit:

Sat 31st July 2010 at 10.30am Finding and Understanding Wills. Book early to avoid disappointment.

The Society have put together a free information leaflet called ‘Probate Records’ click here to download.

Wed 18th Aug 2010 at 2pm visit: Bank of England Museum & Talk. Book early to avoid disappointment.

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