By Col. J.L. Vivian

Transcribed by Teresa Grafton, Richard Grylls and Brian Randell

The source (VIV)

This is a series of eight bound manuscript volumes of detailed abstracts of wills and administrations, perhaps five thousand items in all. They were compiled by Col. J.L. Vivian and after his death presented to the British Library (British Library Add. 34,546-34,552, 34,810). The majority of his abstracts are of Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills, but a significant number are of now-lost Exeter, Barnstaple and Totnes wills.

Vivian seems originally to have filed his will abstracts in bundles sorted by letter of the alphabet. At a later date his abstracts were bound into a series of seven volumes, followed later still by an addenda volume (Vol. 8). As a result of binding the abstracts together (one volume containing surnames beginning with several different letters of the alphabet), Vivian's original pagination became thoroughly confusing. So, the volumes were re-paginated using folio numbers, i.e. a number at the top of each right hand page only. The original page numbers were crossed through, but are still visible. If you find that a will abstract you seek is not on the page which displays the relevant folio number, check both the page before and after - you should find the will you are looking for on one of these.

DWP's editing process

Because PCC wills and administrations are already well covered in our index and because copies of them are readily available online, we have elected to omit from our index all the many PCC wills and admons that Vivian abstracted. We have however included all those wills and admons processed by the Archdeaconry Court of Cornwall (at Bodmin). The originals of these wills have survived, and copies of them can be obtained from the Cornwall Record Office. However, some researchers may find it useful to be able to see abstracts of these wills in London.

Locating the source and acquiring copies

As far as is known, no copies of these volumes exist other than in the British Library. To obtain information about the possibility of viewing a document in this list or acquiring a photocopy of it by post, you should contact The British Library directly. (N.B. The British Library does not permit readers to photograph documents.)