Wills proved in Oxford from 1516-1858 have now been made available online.
Origins.net says: “Wills can provide an extraordinary amount of information about your forebears, but most people probably have never had the chance to delve into these documents to see what they can learn. But now Oxfordshire wills from the 16th century up to 1858 – over 30,000 of them – are available online, at the National Wills Index.
What can the original wills tell me?
“Prior to census returns, meaning before 1841, wills can be the best source of family relationship information. The list of what you may find is impressive:
- Names of heirs and beneficiaries;
- Places of residence and origin of testators;
- Places of residence of the heirs and beneficiaries;
- Properties and whether freehold, copyhold or lease;
- Debts owed and due;
- Business arrangements;
- Inventories of personal property;
- Personal comments about heirs and beneficiaries.
“The potential value of this information in furthering your research is high, particularly if more commonly consulted records such as parish registers have drawn a blank. The information in wills goes beyond immediate family, many wills name nieces and nephews, godchildren, husbands of sisters and wives of brothers and distant kin. Usually the relationships are defined and the place of residence may be stated.
A Banbury bacon seller
“The 1819 will of Thomas Abbotts, grocer and bacon seller, gives a remarkable amount of detail about Banbury people. Thomas owned several properties, including his own house and properties occupied by his two sons-in-law, William Kimberley (husband of Mary) and Frances [sic] Taylor (husband of Keziah). Frances Taylor was a baker, and used the bakehouse and meal chamber owned by Thomas.
“Thomas also owned a property occupied by George Stanton, and one in North Bar Street, which he had bought from John Eagles, a surgeon, and which was now occupied by James Claridge, butcher. Frederick Fleet, clerk to Mr Austin’s brewhouse, and John Boughan senior, shag manufacturer, both of Banbury, were to be trustees of the estate for the benefit of Thomas’s children and wife, Keziah, and his son Thomas (who was under 20) was to carry on his father’s trade.
Accessing the records
“Digitisation of these documents is now completed, and these images can be purchased with Pay per View credits and viewed directly from the index records.”