Monday, 6 April 2009
A few years ago, Wills and Grants proved in English courts were very easy to access - you just went to Somerset House in London and said "Let's have a look at your loverly Wills please" and Lo, they would be brought forth at a minimal charge.
It's a bit more tricky now.
You have to find out the details of the Will and where it was proved. The Indexes have been scanned and are on Ancestry and FindMyPast, but they both need a subscription. Alternatively you can go to one of a dozen centres around England and see the Indexes there.
Then you have to write to the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London, giving the details (although they don't tell you exactly which details they want) and enclosing a cheque for £5 for each copy of the Will.
It feels a bit like the Internet had never been invented. It must be a real pain in the backside for anyone not in the UK who wants a Will copy. There is a rumour that an on-line ordering system is on its way for Wills, as for the BMD certificates.
But in the meantime, I remembered what a pen was for, wrote them a letter and wrote my first cheque this year.
The three Wills I've ordered are:
William Fitz-Henry of Ashtead and Winchester. It may give us a clue as to who his Fitz-Henry relatives were and why his children ended up in an orphanage.
Dr George Fitzhenry of London and Brynmawr Wales. This was the man who had the bigamous second marriage. Did he acknowledge his daughter from his first marriage?
Mary Fitzhenry, who died in 1885 in Dublin. I have no idea which Mary Fitzhenry this is as I have 42 of them in the database, but a woman who was rich enough to need to leave a Will could be quite interesting.
When I get them through, we'll have a bit of a Will fest here. If anyone else has a post-1856 English Fitzhenry Will (pre-1856 can be ordered on-line from the National Archives website) or a Fitzhenry Will from abroad, drop us a line at the usual address if you want to share.
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