Find your ancestors in Gloucestershire, Cheltenham Probate Abstracts, 1660-1740

Discover your ancestor’s will and reveal a list of their personal possessions. Did your relative own linen tablecloths, a flem (an instrument used for bloodletting), pewter, bushels of malt or a mixen of dung? Reveal whether your ancestor created a will or if they were named as a beneficiary of someone else. The will abstracts include the names of family, friends and even employees or servants.

Each image will include either an inventory list or an abstract of a will. Every will or inventory will differ, but most will include the following information:

  • Name and residence
  • Occupation
  • Date of will
  • Probate date
  • Inventory of possessions and their value
  • Names of the executors

Alternatively, you can also search for a specific image number. There is an in-depth analysis of the wills and inventory lists available in the introduction, and at the end of the document is a rich glossary explaining some of the strange and wonderful items you can find on your ancestor’s inventory list.

  • Image number 5: Preface
  • Image number 6: Part of Isaac Taylor’s Map of the County of Gloucester, 1777
  • Image number 7-29: Introduction, including a full analysis of the records by house sizes, population and occupation. It also includes a further explanation of intestacy, when a person dies before creating a will, and will disputes.
  • Image number 30 – 566: Wills abstracts and inventories of over 500 individuals
  • Image number 567 – 571: Glossary of terms found within the will abstracts and inventory lists. Discover the meaning of interesting terms like a camlet, a firkin or a rundlett.

Locating the original documents

The records are preserved among the Gloucester Diocesan Records (GDR) at Gloucestershire Archives at Clarence Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester, GL1 3DW, United Kingdom. To order the original will you will need the testator name, probate date and residence.

Discover more about these records

Probate records are a valuable primary source for the study of social history, local history and family history. The probate, i.e. the official proving, of Cheltenham wills was the responsibility of the Consistory Court of the bishop of Gloucester.

Wills and inventories comprise the main probate records, and are supplemented by administrations, accounts and other documents created when disputes arose. Wills and administrations in this collection have been rendered as abstracts, summarising all the information found in the original documents. Inventories are given as full transcripts.

Inventories provide insight into household arrangements, household and occupational goods, lifestyle, wealth and status. Wills add to this information and provide evidence of kinship, family sizes, occupations and landholdings. Inventories and valuations were part of the process of proving wills, but relatively few have survived. There is a reasonably high survival rate for inventories in the period 1660 to 1740 amounting to about 50% in Gloucestershire, but outside this period there are very few.

The Cheltenham Probate Abstracts appear in the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Volume 12, which was published in 1999.

Places included

Probate documents included here are all those that specified the deceased as being of the Cheltenham parish or one of the places within Cheltenham, namely Arle, Alstone, Naunton, Sandford and Westal. They contain references to property and residents in the adjacent parishes of Prestbury, Charlton Kings, Leckhampton, Swindon, Shurdington, Boddington, Uckington, Staverton and Hatherley, as well as parishes further afield. They are supplemented by a few documents of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), which had jurisdiction when the deceased had property in more than one diocese.

Editorial changes to the original document

The original spelling of personal names has been retained, as have the abbreviations of forenames.

When a signatory only made a mark, this is indicated by a cross, +.

The inventories are printed as full transcripts, modified by rationalising the use of capital and lower-case letters and the punctuation; omitting the words 'Inprimis' and 'Item' and intermediate totals; extending abbreviations, with the use of £ and 'lb.', and rendering 'ye' as 'the'; replacing Roman numerals with Arabic numerals ; correcting errors of addition; and listing inventory totals given in the Act book, GDR R 7/22.

Place names have been modernised, other than old field names.

For dates falling between 1 January and 24 March, both Old Style (Julian) and New Style (Gregorian) years have been given, e.g. 1665/6.

The following conventions have been used:

  • [ ] - incomplete entry
  • [...] - illegible entry
  • [?] - doubtful reading
  • [roman] - editorial interpolation
  • [italic] - editorial interpretation or comment
  • Latin phrases have been put in italic followed by an English translation in roman in square brackets.