Wills and inventories

Copies of wills and inventories are currently being transcribed by members of the Winslow History Project, and additions will be made to this page on a regular basis. Wills in the Herts Record Office were proved at the St Albans Archdeaconry Court (or often at Winslow, by the vicar on behalf of the archdeacon), and those in the National Archives were proved in London at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Most wills from the mid-16th to early-18th centuries had inventories with them, which are the best evidence for what living conditions inside people's houses were like.

The process of making a will is described by Joseph Hunt, schoolmaster of Winslow, in his statement to an enquiry about the validity of the will of William Holland of Granborough, maltster (Herts RO 202AW10):

Joseph "visited him two or three times in his last sickness", and on 14 May 1764 "was sent for to the house of the said deceased … when [William] informed [him] that he had mind to settle his affairs. And thereupon [Joseph] did from the Deceaseds own Mouth and dictating take Down the instructions hereunto annexed … and then read the said Instructions over audibly and distinctly to the said Deceased [who] did then declare his approbation thereof and then desired [Joseph] to make his will from the said instructions."
William was buried on 18 May, so must have made his will on the day he died or the day before, presumably not having made one before.

Most wills were drawn up by lawyers at this date, but Joseph Hunt probably provided a cheaper service: the wills he drew up between 1754 and 1780 are usually shorter than those written by professional lawyers.

We have used these conventions in the transcriptions:
(abc) = expansion of abbreviation
[abc] = restoration of text which is lost or illegible in the original, or editorial note
<abc> = text which was accidentally omitted in the original
{abc} = text which was accidentally repeated in the original and should be ignored
\abc/ = insertion in the original text

The wills have been transcribed in full and without adding punctuation (unless they are also translated from Latin), apart from the omission of some repetitive phrasing in the later ones.

Wills proved at St Albans

Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC)

Winslow wills were normally proved at St Albans until 1857, and many are therefore in the Hertfordshire Records Office. There is an online index to these (search for Wills, and "place=Winslow").

Copyright 5 May, 2024