Transcribed by Richard Grylls

Historical background and the Source (CATH)

The Cathedral Archive at Exeter Cathedral - not be confused with the Cathedral Library - holds ancient records relating to the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral and to the Vicars Choral, plus other miscellaneous records concerning the cathedral. Among these records are sundry copies of wills, administrations and inventories, mostly of a fairly early date. These were located with the help of Angela Doughty, former Cathedral Archivist.

Both the Dean and Chapter and the Vicars Choral had peculiar jurisdiction over certain parishes. The Dean and Chapter's parishes were as follows:

  • In Devon: Ashburton, Bickington, Branscombe, Buckland in the Moor, Clyst Honiton, Coffinswell, Colebrooke, Colyton, Culmstock, Dawlish, East Teignmouth, Heavitree, Ide, Kingskerswell, Littleham with Exmouth, Monkton, St. Marychurch, Salcombe Regis, Shute, Sidbury, Staverton, Stoke Canon and Topsham
  • In Cornwall: Boconnoc, Braddock, Perranzabuloe, St. Agnes and St. Winnow
  • The Vicars Choral only held jurisdiction over the parish of Woodbury.

The originals of the wills proved in both these courts perished in 1942. However, an index of wills and administrations proved and granted by the Vicars Choral has survived, and has been used to create the set of items in DWP labelled PECU1 . Sadly no list or calendar of wills and administrations proved or granted in the Court of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter has survived. On the basis that 66 administrations were granted in that court during the 10 years between 1547 and 1556 (and noting that in most courts almost twice as many wills were processed as were administrations), it could be conjectured that between 5000 and 6000 wills and administrations proved and granted in the Court of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter were lost in the Blitz. Thus, the few will copies found in the Cathedral Archives provide a rather special remnant.



DWP's editing process

The names of the testators and intestates mentioned in all testamentary material found in the Cathedral Archives are included in our index, the source being shown as CATH. A number of items found originated in Cornwall rather than Devon, but, since the wills were all proved in Exeter, they have been included in DWP.


Locating the source and acquiring copies

To obtain information about the possibility of viewing a document in this list, photographing it or acquiring a photocopy of it by post, you should contact The Cathedral Archives directly.