Transcribed by Richard Grylls, Diana Stevens and Lindsey Withers

The Source (DHC-W)

This source is a transcript of the Wills Card Index held at the Devon Heritage Centre (DHC), at Exeter. Their Information Leaflet on Wills and Probate Records indicates: "This index lists only the name and date and sometimes the parish of residence of the person for whom the will exists. It also indexes wills found in the Exeter City Archives collection held at this office - including Mayor's Court and Orphans' Court wills."

This card index was maintained until about 2002, and contains entries for all the catalogued wills at the DHC at that time. It is just one of several major sources of information about wills at DHC in the process of being incorporated into the Devon Wills Project, the others being DHC-A, DHC-C, DHC-U and MALL. No attempt has been made to identify and remove overlaps between these various sources.


DWP's editing process

This WCI transcript has been made with the aid of the microfilmed version of the card index produced by the LDS in 1986, catalogued in the LDS Family History Library as "Index to wills, copies and related papers [of the County of Devon], 1200-1900's" - Film Nos: 1278569 (A-Haywood), 1278570 (Head-Symon), 1278571/1 (T-Z). The second film is much less legible than the other two, so the transcripts of a number of the cards in this film had to be completed by reference to the actual card index at the DHC. The card index went on being added to for a considerable period after having been filmed by the LDS; these additions to the card index, about 850 in number, have been identified and are included in this transcript.

Some cards contain annotations indicating that they refer to, for example, administrations or extracts, rather than wills. However, where (as with most cards) there is no such annotation, the advice of the DHC is that it can assumed the card refers to a copy of a will (probably a probate copy or a contemporary official copy). Thus the codes 'W' and 'co' are used for such index entries. The reference numbers, which are to the Devon Heritage Centre's collection, are those given on the cards - these numbers have not been checked against the current DHC catalogue, so may be incorrect or out-dated, but should nevertheless be helpful in locating the document in the DHC collection. (The DHC can advise as to whether a particular will copy is held in the record office at Exeter or the one in Barnstaple.)

Reference ("See" or "See also") cards that simply concern minor spelling variations of surnames have in general not been transcribed. Otherwise, all cards have been transcribed, even those for post-1857 wills, or where it is not evident how or whether the will is actually Devon-related.

N.B. As implied above, a single document held at DHC may appear in more than one of the three lists, DHC-A, DHC-C and DHC-W. Furthermore, because of different transcription rules employed by the various compilers of A2A, of the DHC Online Catalogue and of the Wills Card Index at DHC, this single document may appear in DHC-A, DHC-C and DHC-W with slightly different reference numbers in each. For example there is little consistency regarding the use of spaces within the number (e.g. "1660 A/406" or "1660A/406"). Moreover, A2A sometimes gives a more detailed number than the DHC uses (e.g. 2984 A-5/PZ/4 rather than 2984/5). Such inconsistencies cause little difficulty to the DHC staff when dealing with requests for copies of wills. However, the inconsistencies should be borne in mind when, for example, using a reference number, rather than a testator's name, etc., to look up an item in A2A or the DHC Online Catalogue.


Locating the source or 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 the Devon Heritage Centre directly.