Transcribed by Brian Randell

Historical background

The Western border of Devon has changed many times during the last millennium. King Athelstan (fl.924-939) declared that any land west of the River Tamar was in the Kingdom of Cornwall. However, during the period covered by this present will index the parishes of Werrington and North Petherwin, and a part of the parish of Maker, parishes which lie west of the Tamar, were considered to be in Devon. Despite this, their ecclesiastical jurisdiction was in the hands of the Archdeaconry Court of Cornwall, then at Bodmin. This archdeaconry also had jurisdiction over the parish of St. Giles in the Heath, which lies east of the Tamar. St. Giles has been considered a Devon parish throughout its history.

More confusingly the River Tamar divides two parishes in half. A small part of the parish of Boyton (Northcott hamlet), which lies east of the Tamar, is and was in Devon, while the major part of that parish (including the church) is and was in Cornwall. Both parts of this parish were in the Archdeaconry of Cornwall. The Tamar also divides the parish of Bridgerule, but in this case the church is east of the river and thus in Devon, within the Archdeaconry of Totnes.

(Between 1877 and 1936 the Devon parishes of Virginstow and Broadwoodwidger were part of the newly created Diocese of Cornwall. Some Virginstow parish records remain in Cornwall to this day, but they do not include any wills.)


The Source (CRO) and DWP's editing process

Information concerning pre-1858 wills, administrations and inventories relevant to Devon was extracted for DWP (in July 2009) from the online catalogue of Kresen Kernow, Cornwall's new archive centre. The year given for a will is that in which the will was proved, where this information is available - otherwise it is the year in which the will was written.

At the Devon Heritage Centre there is a list of 'Devon Wills and Inventories from the Archdeaconry of Cornwall' which lists all the Devon wills held at the Cornwall Record Office. A random sample taken from this list at DHC seemed to tally with the list compiled by the Cornwall Record Office that is transcribed here.

Our set of CRO source items includes ones relating to the parishes of Werrington and North Petherwin, as well as St. Giles in the Heath and Bridgerule. However, with three exceptions - where the county was specifically stated as being 'Devon' - it does not include items relating to the parishes of Boyton and Maker, which were more usually thought of as being in Cornwall. Wills relating to these last two parishes may be found by consulting the Kres Kernow catalogue.


Locating the source and acquiring copies

To obtain information about the possibility of viewing the documents listed, photographing them or acquiring photocopies of them by post, you should contact Archives and Cornish Studies Service (formerly the Cornwall Record Office) directly.