Find your ancestors in Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of London Vol. III 1571-1625, Volume Introduction

Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of London Vol. III 1571-1625

British Record Society volume 97

Published 1985

Volume Introduction

This third volume of the Index to Testamentary Records in the Bishop of London's Commissary Court of London continues the work from 1571 down to 1625. It is hoped that it will be followed by the publication of the Index to the remaining Testamentary Records of the Court down to 1700.

The present volume covers the following Will Registers:

9171/161570 - 78
9171/181592 - 97
9171/191597 - 1603
9171/201603 - 07
9171/211607- 11
9171/221611 - 16
9171/231616 - 21
9171/241621 - 26

The Act Books it covers are as follows:

9168/131570 - 82
9168/141582 - 93
9168/151593 - 1604
9168/161604 - 181
9168/171619 - 26

In this period the number of testators and intestates with properties or connections overseas is even more striking than in that covered by the preceding volume. Two interesting categories of foreign wills emerge, both hitherto little explored by historians.

The first concerns the East India Company, its voyages, ships and crews, and the second the French and Dutch settlers, many of them refugees from religious persecution, and their churches in London. While recent research has shown that from the beginning of Elizabeth's reign the spiritual oversight of Englishmen overseas and foreign Protestants in London belonged to the bishop of London, the distinction between the probate jurisdiction exercised over them by his Commissary Court and by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury has yet to be established. This present volume lists over two hundred wills which mention the East India Company, the great majority referring to ships. Some specifically state that the ship was bound for, or at, Bantam (in Java), where the Company established a factory in 1603. About a hundred ships are named in the wills. Many of their names coincide with those of the ships whose voyages are related in Purchas His Pilgrimes and other published narratives.

Many of the wills of Aliens listed in the volume contain bequests to the French or Dutch Protestant churches, their ministers or poor parishioners. Some of them give the birthplace of the testator or his previous place of residence in France or the Low Countries. Many contain information about the social and economic aspects of the Life of the Aliens in their adopted city.

Geneva, May 1983 M.F.