FOR THE PERIOD 1796-1811

Edited by Brian Randell

Historical background

Despite the destruction of all pre-1858 Devon wills at Exeter in 1942, regarding wills made between 1796 and 1857 it is possible to study an abstract or copy of the original will, this abstract/copy having been made for tax purposes. The Death Duty Registers (IR 26) in The National Archives (TNA) hold details of wills and bequests for estates liable to death duties. They cover separately wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and the Country Courts (i.e. courts other than the PCC). The period is divided into two parts, 1796-1811 and 1812-1857. For the earlier period just abstracts of wills were made, but for the later period fairly full copies were made. For more detailed information see TNA's explanatory account.

Copies of Devon related Death Duty wills - not administrations - for the latter period (1812-1857) were sent from London to Exeter many years ago. These form a separate source in our index - see IRW.

Administrations granted in Devon between 1812 and 1857 form yet another source in our index - see DDR2, where some further information about these Death Duty records is to be found.


The Source (DDR1) and DWP's editing process

This source covers the earlier period (1796-1811) and includes both wills and administrations. Our present DDR1 source has been produced by extensive editing of an electronic copy of the over 4,000 Devon items from the period in Documents Online's catalogue to IR 26. It was very kindly provided to the Devon Wills Project by Laura Withey, TNA Licensing Manager, and her colleague Chris Owens.


Locating the source and acquiring copies

Copies should be available online at the National Archives website. BUT, be aware that there are four different online wills indexes at TNA. Having selected 'Our Online Records', and then 'Wills and probate', click on 'Country court death duty registers 1796-1811'. (Digital images of all these Death Duty records are now available for downloading - see the Death Duties Search Facility.)

You may - at present (July 2010) - be unable to find in TNA's index an item you have found in our index here. This is possibly because TNA are still working on revising the IR 26 part of their catalogue - it contains a number of inaccuracies. If this problem does arise, please contact Richard Grylls, who should be able to help you locate the relevant entry in the TNA index, and thus enable you to download the relevant document from the TNA website should you wish.