Unearthing Your Roots

Wills & Probate


Wills are important in genealogy because they provide integral details of the decedent's family and what the person owned at the time of his death. This may include houses to even enslaved individuals. Many bequests and provisions the testator had made at the time of their death will be included, thus providing you with details of their family, which may involve relatives you did not know existed.

From 1540, when the Statute of Wills was introduced, males of 14 years and over and females of 12 years and over could make a will.  The age in which men and women could write a will was raised to 21 in the Wills Act of 1837.  Prisoners, traitors, slaves, heretics and those who were declared mad were unable to make a legal will.

A will makes provision for immovable property such as buildings and land to be distributed to beneficiaries, whilst a testament conveys movable property such as money, clothing and furniture to beneficiaries.  These two are brought together, with a will often being referred to as a last will and testament.

To learn more about how you can gain access to your ancestors will and probate records, feel free to contact us!