Transcribed by Jane Cook, John Gunton and Lindsey Withers

Historical background

Inquisitions post mortem (sometimes known as escheats) were inquiries undertaken after the death of a feudal tenant of the crown, to establish what lands the deceased had held and who should succeed to them. They were used from Mediaeval times to about 1660. Because the documents mention heirs and often other relatives of the deceased, they can be of great use to family historians researching their early ancestry, especially when wills have not survived. (The Medieval Genealogy website provides a helpful page about Inquisitions Post Mortem.)


The Source (TAPS)

This collection consists of a set of sixteen volumes of typescript abstracts of 13th to 17th century Inquisitions Post Mortem, originally held at the Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter (WSL) - now part of the Devon Heritage Centre - made by H. Tapley-Soper (1876-1951), City Librarian of Exeter for almost 40 years. The original Inquisitions Post Mortem are held at The National Archives.


DWP's editing process

The TAPS source items cover all the abstracts in the Tapley-Soper Collection. Thus they include all those from Cornwall together with a small number from other counties as well as all those from Devonshire. They have been prepared from photographs taken by Ken Ozanne, with the kind permission of the Devon Heritage Centre.


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 Westcountry Studies Library, now incorporated into the Devon Heritage Centre).