By J.H. Mann

Transcribed by Richard Grylls

Historical background

During the early part of the twentieth century John Henry Mann assembled into some 40+ volumes all the information he had collected about anyone named Mann (plus spelling variants) in a countrywide - in fact worldwide - search. He collected register entries, apprentice indentures, wills, court cases, etc., from a large number of different places where he found the surname was prevalent. He found a good number of mentions of the surname in Devon, and rather less in Cornwall.


The Source (MANN) and DWP's editing process

Among the 40+ volumes are two that are relevant to the Devon Wills Project. One is entitled Devonshire Wills and Administrations, 1532-1857. This includes abstracts of all the surviving Mann wills that were proved in Devon, plus all the wills of Devon Manns proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury up until 1784. This volume also includes a surname index of all the people mentioned in every will he had abstracted. Mann found that almost no Devon wills proved prior to 1600 had survived, but nevertheless he listed those pre-1600 Mann wills he found in calendars of wills. He was also unable to locate a few post-1600 wills that were listed in calendars, so recorded these as 'missing'.

The second relevant volume is simply entitled Miscellaneous. Its second half contains abstracts of wills of people with surnames other than Mann, but who were connected in some way to the Mann 'family'. Some of these abstracts are very brief indeed, consisting merely of that part of the will that mentioned someone named Mann. Other abstracts seem to be full ones.

There is what appears to be a complete collection of Mr Mann's research volumes at the Society of Genealogists. It is thought that there is a similarly complete set at the British Library. At the request of Mr Tapley-Soper, librarian in Exeter in the 1920s, Mr Mann sent copies of three volumes to Exeter. These are now held in the Library of the Devon and Cornwall Record Society, formerly held at the Westcountry Studies Library but now at the Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter. The volume Mann later named Devonshire Wills and Administrations, 1532-1857 was sent to Devon in two stages, 1532-1800 (Vol. 1) and 1801-1857 (Vol. 2). The third volume Mann sent to Devon included abstracts of Mann wills proved in Cornwall. Thus, the collection now in Exeter does NOT include the Devon will abstracts found in the Miscellaneous volume at the Society of Genealogists. Our MANN source combines items taken from the volumes at the SOG library and the library of the Devon and Cornwall Records Society.


Locating the source and acquiring copies

Reseachers wishing to obtain a copy of a will abstract from the Mann collection should contact either the Society of Genealogists or, for the Devon and Cornwall Record Society volumes, the Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter.