Transcribed by Richard Grylls

Historical background and the Source (CULL)


“Thomas Culleton was among the early promoters of the new hobby of crest collecting in the early 1860s.  He was a seal engraver, the first of the artisans in the chain of production of crested stationery for the new "upper middle class".  It was the engravers and die sinkers who were responsible for production of the plates and dies which were used in the production of crests, a term encompassing arms, monograms and addresses, as well as engravings of actual heraldic crests. . . By 1870 he was offering, under the style "Culleton's Heraldic Office", genealogical research, Culleton's Book of Family Crests and Mottoes, The Manual of Heraldry and Culleton's patent lever embossing press” – from Herald Painters, by British Ancestry (archived copy).

It appears that Culleton’s ceased doing family history research in the 1950s or 1960s and that their papers came into the hands of the Society of Antiquaries.  Those papers were microfilmed in 1959 by the The Church of the Latter Day Saints on forty-two full-length microfilms (films 0087905 to 0087946).  The heraldic portion of the Culleton Collection was acquired from the Society of Antiquaries by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury – it is still there.  However, it has not proved possible to locate the present whereabouts of the vast collection of research papers into sundry families, those papers which were filmed by LDS.   The LDS Library in Salt Lake City does not hold the original papers, nor does the Society of Antiquaries, nor the Society of Genealogists.  Increasingly, it appears that the original research papers are lost or have been destroyed, and that the LDS microfilms are thus a secondary source of prime and unique importance.

It is clear that several of Culleton’s clients were members of Devon and Cornwall families.  It is equally clear that the researchers at Culleton’s compiled large lists of parish register entries, will abstracts, transcripts of legal documents, for each individual family, presumably in their efforts to compile a precise pedigree chart for a specific client.  For example, film 0087933 contains all these sorts of details for three Devon families, including mention of over 330 wills and administrations, and abstracts of over 200 of these. 


DWP's editing process


On the Family Search website can be found a list of the surnames of the families covered.

Out of the 42 films, five that appeared most likely to have covered Devon families have been studied. The two ‘Mortimer’ films, 87928-9, were not studied.  Their contents, if they do indeed concern Devon families, are almost certainly already covered in our source CA. Of the five films studied, nos. 87933, 87934 and 87943 were indeed very productive of abstracts of wills.  On each of those films several further wills were listed but not abstracted. Most of the abstracts and list entries found in these three films now appear in our index.

(Because Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills are already listed in DWP’s Index and because of the ease of obtaining copies of them from TNA, any PCC wills or administrations found in the Culleton films studied are NOT included in the DWP Index.) 

Films 87911 and 87929, on the other hand, both of which covered several different families, some with Devon-sounding surnames, included no will abstracts or listings at all. These were probably minor projects as far as Culleton was concerned, and the research undertaken by the company was very limited.  In view of this, it has been decided not to attempt to study all 42 Culleton films, but to recommend that, if a researcher finds a surname they are studying included in the linked list above, he/she should ask their local LDS Centre to acquire a copy of that particular film. 


Locating the source and acquiring copies


At present the only complete collection of the 42 microfilms of the Culleton papers is held at the LDS Library in Salt Lake City.  There may be a few individual films in the UK at LDS Family Search Centres, notably in London.  Most local Family Search Centres, all over the world, should be able to acquire a copy of a certain film, for a fee.  It usually takes several months before that film will arrive.



It should be noted that the testamentary contents of film 0087943, which concerns the Trist family, are shown separately on DWP, as source TRST.