TRANSCRIPT OF DEVONSHIRE WILLS, 1600-1800 (22 vols.)
By Olive M. Moger
Transcribed by Nigel Bond, Lesley Crocombe, Pauline Ferris, Liz Holliday,
Lynne Moses, Pearl Savage and Madeleine Robertson Squire
Historical background and the Source (MOGA)
Miss Olive Mary Moger (1880-1961) was an indefatigable genealogist and family history researcher. In the course of her career she abstracted (or transcribed verbatim) some 6,600 wills, and listed (without abstracts) a further 5,000. Most of the wills that she abstracted had been proved in Devon. At some time after 1942 all her will abstracts were typed up and carbon copies were made. Two sets of her entire collection were then bound into a number of volumes. These sets - 22 volumes each - can be viewed at the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter.
It is absolutely certain that among Miss Moger's collection are large numbers of wills for which her abstract or transcript is the only surviving 'copy' of the original will, given the wholesale destruction of pre-1858 Devon wills in a 1942 World War II air raid. Thus her collection is uniquely valuable. Furthermore, her abstracts/transcripts of wills proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Totnes and the Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter often provide the only evidence of such wills, since not even calendars of wills proved in these two Devon courts survived the Blitz.
Occasionally within the volumes Miss Moger compiled a list of those with a certain surname who left a will in Devon. Then, frustratingly, she provided abstracts of some of the wills she had listed, but not others. We have included all the items in her lists in the present MOGA index, indicating those which she did not abstract by 'le', i.e. list entries. (If Miss Moger made an abstract of a will and also included that will in one of her lists, we have noted the abstract entry but omitted the list entry.) In the case of the two courts mentioned above, Miss Moger's list entry of a will may be the only surviving evidence that such a will did indeed once exist.
DWP's editing process
An additional feature in the 22 volumes of will abstracts is the occasional inclusion of a comprehensive list of baptisms, marriages and burials for a particular surname. Miss Moger sometimes showed this information as a family tree. Because much of this information should be available in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and/or publications of the Devon Family History Society, we have reluctantly decided not to attempt to include such information in this index. But researchers should be aware that Miss Moger's volumes may well contain useful extra information about a family they may be studying.
The pagination system used by Miss Moger is decidedly individual, and somewhat obscure! Furthermore, large numbers of pages in one set of the volumes are bound out of order. Whether they are bound in a similarly strange sequence in the other set of volumes has not been determined. It seems however that pages concerning people of one surname are at least bound in a group, even if not in exact numerical sequence of pages. With a little perseverance it should prove possible to locate the page that is given in our index.
Permission to photograph the Moger Will Abstracts for the Devon Wills Project (DWP) was kindly granted by Mr Derwent Campbell of Bath (Miss Moger's great nephew) and other heirs to her estate, who were contacted by Mr Campbell. The photography of the 22 volumes was carried out by Mr Ken Ozanne. Volunteers have extracted from those photos the information required for our index. DWP is most grateful to all these people.
Locating the source and acquiring copies
As mentioned above, both sets of volumes are currently held at the Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter. The centre should be able to provide a photocopy of an item which interests you.