Find your ancestors in Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Vols. III 1558-1583

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Vols. III 1558-1583

British Record Society volume 18

Published 1898

Introduction to Original Volume

The present volume contains a continuation of the Index of the Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury commenced by Mr. J. Challenor C. Smith, and covers the period 1558 to 1583, that is to say, the first twenty-five years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and the archiepiscopates of Matthew Parker and Edmund Grindal.

The majority of the twenty-four registers which contain the wills here calendared possess preambles, and some few of them, notably Register "Martyn," have been enriched by the addition of coats-of-arms in the margin. These arms are of considerable interest both to the herald and to the genealogist.

The history of the Prerogative Court was fully gone into by Mr. J.C.C. Smith in his preface to the First Volume of this Index (Vol. X of The Index Library), and nothing more need be said here on the subject. Attention, however, is directed to the will of John Bullock, of co. Essex, 1560, as being a case in which a P.C.C. grant was renounced on the ground that the testator had no goods outside his own diocese.

The task of compiling this volume, which contains references to about 14,000 wills, was most kindly undertaken for the British Record Society by Dr. S.A. Smith. To him the warmest thanks of all historical and genealogical students are due, thanks which will shortly require renewal, since his further instalment of the Calendar, bringing it down to the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, is nearly ready for the press.

When the slips had been prepared from the Will Registers, the whole was carefully checked from the Probate Act Books by Mr. E. Cheyne, of the Principal Probate Registry, whose name is a sufficient guarantee for the thoroughness with which this portion of the work was effected. To him the Society is under very great obligations.

To Mr. J. Challenor Smith the Society is indebted for the Index Locorum to this volume, the preparation of which was no light task, involving constant reference to the wills themselves besides extensive correspondence. In the course of his work on this Index Mr. Smith was enabled to make several corrections in, and explanatory additions to, the Calendar, all of which are embodied in the "Notes and Corrections," and it is to be observed that some names of places occur in the Index Locorum on the assumption that all such notanda have been attended to.

It will be noticed that in many instances this Calendar gives no information as regards testators' abodes beyond the mere diocese. In the Index Locorum such entries are placed under the seat or cathedral town of the diocese. Consequently, for example, a few Surrey wills may be found under Hampshire (Winchester), and so on.

An arbitrary division in the index between London and Middlesex was found unavoidable, but this will probably facilitate research.

It is impossible to close these introductory remarks without an acknowledgment of the very material assistance rendered to the Society in the publication of this volume by Mr. G. E. Cokayne, Clarenceux King of Arms, which has enabled it to be completed and placed in the hands of students in much less time than would otherwise have been the case.

Leland L. Duncan.