- Original introduction to the Chichester Consistory Wills by the British Record Society
The Sussex, Chichester Consistory Court Wills Index, 1482-1800 was originally published in 1915 as British Record Society Volume 49. Below is the original introduction to the index from 1915.
Introduction to Original Volume
British Record Society Volume 49
The testamentary documents preserved at the Probate Registry at Chichester consist of those in the Consistory Court, the Peculiar Court of the Dean of Chichester, and the Peculiar Court of Pagham and Tarring Deaneries.
The jurisdiction of the Consistory Court extends over the whole of the Archdeaconry of Chichester, comprising the Deaneries of Arundel, Boxgrove, Midhurst and Storrington, and thus covers the western position of the County of Sussex, as that of the Archdeaconry of Lewes covers the eastern portion.
The Peculiar of the Dean had jurisdiction over nine parishes in the City of Chichester, viz St Andrew, St Martin, St Olave, St Peter the Great, St Peter the Less, St Pancras, St Bartholomew, New Fishbourne, and Wike alias Rumboldswick.
The Peculiar of Pagham and Tarring Deaneries had jurisdiction over the parishes of Bersted, East Lavant, Pagham, Slyndon, Tangmere, All Saints', Chichester, Patching and Tarring.
The volumes of Registered Wills at the Probate Registry at Chichester, from which the following calendar has been compiled are as follows:—
Vol 1-6 1482-1555 These volumes overlap considerably, and it is difficult to indicate exactly what years each volume comprises, as they do not run in strictly chronological order.
Vol 7 1546-52 The above remarks apply to Vols 7-10, but to a rather less extent.
Vol 8 1550-57
Vol 9 1554-59
Vol 10 1558-71
Note—Vols. 4 and 11 were, in the year 1859, transferred to the Probate Registry of Lewes, as their contents related solely to that Archdeaconry.
Vol 12 1577-82
Vol 13 1581-85
Vol 14 1585-97 There are no registered wills for 1598.
Vol 15 1599-1610 The sequence of years in this volume is not well preserved, 1599 being followed by 1604,1600-3. There are no registered wills for 1606, nor for 1611-17.
Vol 16 1618-19 There are no registered wills for 1620-25.
Vol 17 1626-29
Vol 18 1630-35
Vol 19 1636-37
Vol 20 1638-39 There are no registered wills for 1640-43.
Vol 21 1644-52 The years are not in strictly chronological order.
Vol 22 1660-61
Vol 23 1662-68
Vol 24 1668-70
Vol 25 1671-74
Vol 26 1674-77
Vol 27 1678-84
Vol 28 1685-88
Vol 29 1688-92
Vol 30 1693-1706
Vol 31 1706-15
Vol 32 1715-20
Vol 33 1720-25
Vol 34 1725-30
Vol 35 1730-34
Vol 36 1734-39
Vol 37 1739-43
Vol 38 1743-50
Vol 39 1750-56
Vol 40 1756-63
Vol 41 1763-68
Vol 42 1768-74
Vol 43 1774-82
Vol 44 1782-94
Vol 45 1794-1800
Note - It will be noticed that previous to Vol 21 there are several gaps, there being no Registered Wills for 1598, 1606, 1611-17, 1620-25, and 1640-43, but as to these see under Original Wills. Of course this is the usual interval from about 1652 to 1660 during the Commonwealth, when all wills in England were proved in London.
The Calendar from Vols, 1-10 was compiled by the late Mr. E. H. W Dunkin from the Registers themselves, and on hearing that the British Record Society contemplated the printing of a Calendar of the Chichester Wills, he most generously placed a copy of his own Calendar at its disposal. This being probably the most difficult portion to read, his work should be remembered by all those who make use of this Calendar.
Vols. 12-45 were then proceeded with on similar lines by going through them page by page and comparing the list thus made with the Indexes, with which each volume is supplied. This mode of checking the work has resulted in finding several wills not so indexed.
The whole of these two lists were then cut up and thrown into one Lexicographical Index, thus enabling any one to find a West Sussex will in as few minutes as previously it had taken days.
Besides the Registered Wills just described there is a large collection of Original Wills ranging from about 1550 to about 1590. They were formerly in a state of great confusion, but now have been examined and arranged in files lettered A to Z, and each document numbered. Where they tally with the Registered Wills the reference is given thus, " Otig. A. 1," etc, in the printed Calendar. Many of the Original Wills are in very bad condition, and there is little point in consulting those that are already registered. Some of the Original Wills are unregistered, and these appear in this printed Calendar thus, "Oiig B 5," without any corresponding volume, number and page.
Quite recently, however, another set of Unregistered Wills of more recent date has come to light. These fill up some of the gaps previously mentioned in the volumes of the Registered Wills, viz. 1606, 1611-17, 1621-25, and 1640-43. These have now been incorporated with the General Calendar, and are referred to under their date and number in A. Dean., B. Dean , M. Dean, or S. Dean, as the case may be, signifying Arundel, Boxgrove, Midhurst and Storrington Deaneries respectively.
Administrations and Peculiars
The Administrations, commencing 1555, the Wills in the Peculiar of the Dean, commencing 1553, and the Peculiar of Archbishop Pagham and Tarring Deaneries, commencing 1520, have not been calendared yet, but it is hoped that they may be undertaken at a later date. In the meantime there are indexes for the periods which they cover in the Registry.