Transcribed by Lindsey Withers

Historical background and the Source (BARN-R)

The North Devon Athenaeum holds a 155-page notebook containing a transcript of a 62-page MS Calendar of Wills and Administrations produced (exhibited) in the Registration Court of the Archdeaconry Court of Barnstaple (1573-1586). The actual Calendar cannot presently be traced. Somewhat mysteriously the notebook is listed in the NDA catalogue as Twitchen Parish Registers and Wills - NDA 929.3 TWI D [Wills 1574-1586]. The name of the notebook's author is not given; its transcriber is believed to be Inkerman Rogers.

The transcript's introductory text explains that: "The wills were registered at this Court, and an inventory produced of the goods belonging to the deceased, with their value; and the whole then remitted to a later Court for probate. In several cases it is stated that 'an Inventory is in preparation'. Where no will could be found an administration was granted, usually to the next of kin, but sometimes to a creditor. The Total of the Inventories seems very small, but they have to be multiplied by 10 to bring the sum up to present values; even so, there are few over £1000."

A clue to the origins of this calendar is given at the end of the introductory text, which states: "The Devonshire Association are intending to print the Calendar of Wills and Administrations of the Barnstaple Archdeaconry Court now in the Probate Court at Exeter. This MS will be a valuable check on the production". Clearly this is a reference to the volumes edited by J J Beckerlegge which are our BECK Source.

In fact this calendar is broadly similar in content and layout to BECK, though the testators it identifies are by no means all listed in BECK. However it additionally provides useful summary details of each Administration that it lists, and has an additional column (transcribed into DWP's 'Note' column) headed "Summa Inven. £. s. d." which lists the probate value of each will and administration.


DWP's editing process

Our BARN-R items were prepared from a scanned copy of the notebook notebook, kindly provided by the North Devon Athenaeum Librarian. All the details shown in that notebook are included in our index.

Given that all the items listed were held in Exeter, and were destroyed in 1942, the list serves essentially just to convey the information that such and such a person did in fact leave a will, now sadly lost. Thus all the entries use the code 'le' (list entry) to indicate that the source from which the index item was transcribed neither contains nor leads to any further information about the particular will or administration.


Locating the source and acquiring copies

As is pointed out above this source is merely an index, an index to documents which no longer survive. Photocopies of parts of the index may be available from the North Devon Athenaeum.