Murray, Oswyn (comp.)

Transcribed by Brian Arthur, Alan Brooke, Jane Cook, Lesley Crocombe, Pauline Ferris, Carole Harrison,
Brian Lake, Richard Lawton, Sylvie Matthews, Ann Roberts, Diana Stevens and Lindsey Withers

Historical background and the Source (MUR1)

Before the wartime destruction of the Exeter Probate Registry Sir Oswyn Murray had made abstracts of a number of wills for families in which he had an interest. The abstracts are in a number of volumes in the Westcountry Studies Library - now part of the Devon Heritage Centre. The set of volumes at DHC comprise apparently the only printed set in existence. The main series, which is alphabetically arranged, is in 37 volumes. There are two supplementary volumes, entitled '2nd Series' and '3rd Series', each covering surnames A to Z. The entire source has been filmed by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS).

Murray, as well as studying original wills, made or copied abstracts from a number of secondary sources, which he cited under such abstracts. Among the sources he used was Richard Lane's Genealogical and Historical Collections, Devonshire, c.1850, a manuscript volume now held at the Westcountry Studies Library. This includes brief abstracts of some 60 Calmady, Pollexfen, Gayer, Hele, etc., wills.

Many of the wills were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). These wills are available on-line from The National Archives and on a set of twenty films from the LDS. (Most admons contain no more family information than the abstract and before 1733 admons were usually in Latin.) PCC and Nuncupative wills are noted as such. The latter were made orally and written down later by the witnesses.


DWP's editing process

Two particular problems confront researchers who are searching for a Murray will abstract. Firstly, the thirty nine volumes of Murray abstracts contain no page numbers at all, so the only clear reference we can provide is the number of the volume in which the abstract is to be found. Secondly, because spelling was very flexible in earlier times, Murray very sensibly grouped together the wills and admons of people with similar sounding surnames. Thus testators and intestates are not presented in exact alphabetical order in his volumes.

However, in our index the testators and intestates are in strict alphabetical order, so variant spellings of a surname are often going to appear in our index some distance away from the more 'standard' spelling. Some lateral thinking re spelling may be required. Further lateral thinking may then be required to pinpoint the location of a particular abstract in one of his volumes. If the item is included in our index, then it genuinely is in one of the volumes - somewhere!


Locating the source and 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, Exeter directly. Alternatively, the LDS films can be ordered for viewing at any LDS Family History Centre. (The table below should assist users to identify which LDS film(s) to order.)

            LDS FILMMURRAY
917257 Abbot-Belworthy1 & 2 916905 Lackyngton-Lynne   20
917258 Bence-Bywater3 & 4 916906 Mabanke-Mysand21 & 22
916897 Cabell-Clay5 & 6 916907 Nanscawen-Persey23 & 24
916898 Clegg-Cutting7 & 8 916908 Peter-Prust25 & 26
916899 Dabernon-Dyer9 & 10 916909 Puddicombe-Ryse27 & 28
916900 Eales-Futts11 & 12 916910 Saffin-Smith29 & 30
916901 Gallard-Gyst13 916911 Snell-Symons31 & 32
916902 Hacche-Hazill14 & 15 916912 Tack-Vye33 & 34
916903 Heaman-Holmore16 & 17 916913 Waad-Young35, 36, and 37
916904 Holway-Kymmyng   18 & 19 916914 A-Z2nd and 3rd Series