For the period 1812-1857

Transcribed by Brian Arthur, Alan Brooke, Jane Cook, Richard Grylls, Carole Harrison, Brian Lake and Lindsey Withers

Historical background

No original administrations granted in Devon Courts have survived. Fortunately, for the period between 1796 and 1857 the Inland Revenue kept for tax purposes their own records of such grants (IR 26 at The National Archives). The records are known by several different names - 'Death Duty Records', 'Estate Duty Records', 'Inland Revenue Administrations'. The period between 1796 and 1811 has been indexed already by The National Archives and is available online. Information from this Source has been added to the Devon Will Index - see DDR1.


The Source (DDR2) and DWP's editing process

The present source covers administrations granted - not wills proved - in Devon between 1812 and 1857. In the early years of this period, as well as the name of the intestate, his/her abode and occupation were usually recorded in the ledgers (along with much other information). In 1829, however, the design of the ledgers was changed. For a period of at least 12 years after this change the abode of the intestate was very rarely given. However, almost always the abode of the administrator or administratrix was given. In order to record a 'place' for each entry in the Devon Wills Index, we have recorded the administrator's abode in the 'Place' column when no abode was recorded for the intestate, but have noted this fact in 'Note' column with the phrase "[NB - 'place' shows administrator's abode]". Needless to say at that period the vast majority of administrators would have lived in the same town/parish as the intestate - but certainly not all of them. From about 1842 the clerks once again usually recorded the abode of the intestate in the ledgers.

Because they were never intended to be public records, but rather to be useful notes, the registers were certainly not compiled in anything resembling copper-plate handwriting. Most clerks who compiled these records were probably unfamiliar with Devon surnames and placenames, and their efforts to read the handwriting on the documents they received from Devon probate courts were obviously not always successful. We have tried to indicate (in square brackets) where their transcriptions of names were almost certainly incorrect. Furthermore, a large number of varying abbreviations were used by different clerks. Thus, all in all, transcribing the necessary information for this present index has not been an easy task.

As is the case for some other sources explored for this current index, our list includes a few intestates who were living outside Devon, but the administration of whose estates were granted in a Devon court (usually in Exeter). In a few cases the administration of the estate of an 'outsider' granted outside Devon has also been included, because the abode of the administrator - usually a relative - was in Devon.

Most of the transcription of this source has been done from disks provided by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, for which the Devon Wills Project is very grateful.


Locating the source and acquiring copies

These records are not yet online (2013). For those people who wish to examine the original records at The National Archives, it should be noted that the series of documents is in IR 26, and that each year's worth of records has been divided into 'pieces' - the piece number appearing after IR 26/ in the reference. The f. (folio) number refers to the HAND-WRITTEN number usually recorded in the left hand top corner of a double spread, but sometimes in the top right hand corner of a double spread. Each double page spread also includes a stamped (printed) number which was added at a later date. For various reasons - including the fact that the IR 27 indexes use them - the original hand-written numbers have been preferred, and are used here. To add to the confusion, a few of the later ledgers (1850s) show no hand-written folio number at all, just one or two printed ones. In this case the printed number at the top of the left-hand page is the relevant one.

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

NOTE: The estate office wills are now online at Family Search - https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/573927