Wills, Sentences and Probate Acts 1661 - 1670 (Inclusive)

Morrison volume 2

Published 1935

Introduction to Original Volume

It will be asked - indeed it has been asked already, with various inflections of friendliness and unfriendliness - why I have entered, or "butted in", upon a series which the British Record Society has been conducting so well.

My answer is that the British Record Society has discontinued its work on this series for some years past (except for completing the indexes to its volume for 1657-60) and for some years still to come.

After producing its Lists of Testators from the beginning in 1383 as far as 1629, and again from 1653 to 1660 (wisely recognising the late J.& G.F.Matthews's Year Books of Probates as standing part of the series, from I630 to 1652), the Society has turned aside to produce an edition of Administrations of the Commonwealth period (1649-60), which is occupying it for a considerable time.

I may claim to have shown my appreciation of the value of that enterprise by undertaking, during the last twelve months, editions of the Administrations for the years 1620-48, intended to fit in with and supplement the Society's design.

But meanwhile there remain nearly 200 years of Testators, in increasing volume, entirely unedited. No-one now living, nor our successors for many years to come, can expect to see the end of the work of editing (unless it is ended abruptly by the destruction of the original documents, or the collapse of publication).

It seemed to me that the main desideratum for this work was to get more of it done; and so in this book I have ventured to contribute another ten years to the edited series.


Following the usual procedure, I have based my List on the Registers, afterwards checking it with the manuscript Calendars and then with the Probate Act Books. Mistakes or omissions in the Calendars (numbering 887) are indicated by asterisks.

Particulars derived from the Probate Act Books or Calendars (as distinct from the Registers) are enclosed between brackets; and where an entire entry is so enclosed this implies that the will is unregistered, but may exist as a filed document (unless it is expressly indicated that the entry relates to a will registered previously).

The Probate Act Book for the year 1662 is missing; but on the analogy of the neighbouring years it is probable that a number of unregistered but filed wills may exist for that year also; and in order to bring them to light I proposed, with the aid of a friendly official, to collate my list with all the filed wills proved in that year. But when this was about to be done, it was vetoed by Mr Horsford, of the Principal Probate Registry, Somerset House, who has done so much to obstruct access to the records of which he (unfortunately for all who are interested in them) is the official Keeper. Accordingly, unregistered wills proved in 1662 remain unlisted and unknown.

Almost the only innovation is the numbering of the items in the List, as arranged. This is intended to facilitate the use of the Indexes, by enabling reference to be made precisely to particular items, instead of loosely to the pages containing them.

18 August, 1935