Exeter Consistory Wills and Administrations 1532-1800 , Introduction to Original Volume

British Record Society volume 46

It will be desirable for those consulting this Calendar to refer to the Preface of the first volume of Devonshire Wills issued by the British Record Society, Limited, in 1908, and forming No. 35 of the Index Library, to understand rightly the intricacies of the various Calendars of Wills and Administrations now preserved at the Probate Registry at Exeter.

It is stated there that the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Exeter (which is the one now completed and printed in this volume) had jurisdiction over thirty-seven parishes in the counties of Devon and Cornwall which were Peculiars of the Bishop, as well as power to grant Probates of Wills per testes over the whole Diocese, when there were not bona notabilia within two or more jurisdictions within the Diocese.

The dates covered by this Calendar are between 1532 (the earliest date of any will now extant at this Probate Registry) and 1800. There is a chasm, as is usual in all provincial Probate Courts, from about 1652 to 1660, during which period all local wills were proved in London, but evidently copies of many wills within these dates were taken, probably for sake of reference, since in letter B there are wills in the years 1651, 1652, 1653, 1654, and 1655, and in other letters similar dates will be found.

Edw. Alex. Fry.