Archdeaconry Court of Suffolk Probate Records at Ipswich 1444-1700 Vols. I & II

British Record Society Volumes 90 & 91

Published 1979 & 1980

Introduction to Original Volume

The old archdeaconry of Suffolk* was in the diocese of Norwich and the province of Canterbury. The probate records of the archdeaconry were transferred from the Ipswich Probate Registry and deposited in the Ipswich and East Suffolk Record Office (now the Ipswich Branch of the Suffolk Record Office) in 1951.

The archdeaconry covered a large part of the eastern side of the county of Suffolk, and after 1837, when the deaneries of Stow and Hartismere were transferred to it from the archdeaconry of Sudbury, it became very nearly coterminous with the civil division of East Suffolk, but probate jurisdiction over the parishes in these two deaneries remained with the Sudbury archdeaconry (see map below).

As there were no peculiar jurisdictions within east Suffolk, the probate situation is uncomplicated, and the bulk of the wills for this part of the county, with the exception noted above, were proved in the court of the Suffolk archdeaconry, although they are also, of course, to be found among the records of the consistory court of Norwich and the prerogative court of Canterbury. The probate records comprise original wills and registered copies from 1444, administration bonds and/or act books from 1610, and the surviving inventories. These last were, except in a very few cases, filed separately from the wills and administrations, and survival is patchy and occasional for the archdeaconry. Other classes of probate record are almost non-existent in the archive. The index, when completed in two volumes, will be a complete index to the surviving probate records of the archdeaconry up to 1700.

In the index surnames have been given whenever possible in the form in which they appear in the original wills and administration bonds, and cross-references have been provided as seemed appropriate. This departure from the more usual practice of grouping surnames under some 'most usual' modern version was resolved upon deliberately and upon reflection, in the conviction that it was desirable in order to avoid arbitrary decisions, especially about the earlier surnames, for which no convincing authority could be found, and also that, having allowed for the obviously idiosyncratic spellings, there is value — again, especially in the earlier period — in the recording of variants of surnames. Place names have been standardised in their modern form, following, as far as this could be ascertained, the preferred official usage.

The British Record Society is greatly indebted to Mrs. M. E. Grimwade for carrying out the immense task of compiling the index and for compiling also the indexes of places and occupations (which will appear in Part Two); to Mrs. Ruth Serjeant who has borne the chief burden of the work of editing the index for setting and of checking the proofs; and to Mr. J. S. W. Gibson for help during the production stages of the book. Thanks are also due to the Pilgrim Trust for a generous grant towards the cost of publication, and to the Suffolk County Council and the former East Suffolk County Council for their substantial contribution over the years to the cost of compilation.

William Serjeant
Suffolk Record Office.

* in 1914 a new archdeaconry of Ipswich was created from parts of the archdeaconries of Sudbury and Suffolk.