high littleton holy trinity church

High Littleton & Hallatrow
History and Parish Records




HL Wills & Index.pdf

This transcription comprises all the High Littleton Wills, Grants of Administration and Inventories up to 1857 that the author has been able to locate. This may consist of full copies of wills, extracts or merely a record that a will once existed. In itself the latter may not seem much but it is useful as an indicator to when a death may have occurred in a parish whose registers only run continuously from 1737. Whilst most of these wills are of residents of High Littleton and Hallatrow there are also included wills of certain non-resident landowners and some that refer to residents of the parish. Below most wills the author has added in italics further details to help put matters into context.

Until 1858 the vast majority of wills of High Littleton people were proved at Wells at the Episcopal Consistory Court of Bath & Wells and, as is well known, these wills, together with other records of the diocese, were transferred during World War II for safe keeping in Exeter, where they were unfortunately destroyed by enemy bombing in 1942. After the war, advertisements under the name of the Bishop of Bath & Wells were placed in newspapers seeking to encourage people, who had copy wills or had made extracts of Wells wills for their own uses before the war, to deposit copies at Somerset Record Office (SRO) to help mitigate some of the losses. Whilst one should be very grateful to those who took the trouble to respond, the wills replaced were only a tiny fraction of the ones destroyed. In the ensuing years further copy wills have come to light through the deposit of solicitors' records. In addition family historians have deposited copies or extracts of wills with their own research papers at the SRO and Society of Genealogists.

A minority of wills were proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and these survive. It is possible to locate many of these from the published indexes that have been prepared over the years but in some cases indexes only record the county rather than the parish of the testator.

F.A. CRISP made abstracts before the war of a large number of Somerset wills proved at the PCC and local courts, and volumes of these have been preserved at SRO.

Extracts of pre 1558 Somerset wills proved at the PCC were published in various volumes in the Somerset Record Society series, which also printed in Vol. 62 “A list of Wells wills from 1528-1600”, which were destroyed at Exeter.

In 1993 Sir Mervyn MEDLYCOTT published his “Somerset Wills Index: Printed and Manuscript Copies”, in which he drew on over 320 sources.

From 1796 copies of wills were recorded in the Death Duty Registers at the Public Record Office. Copies of Estate Duty (Death Duty) wills from 1812-1857 have been handed over to SRO and microfilmed together with abstracts of wills and grants of administrations from 1805-1811. Published indexes of both of these have been made by David T. HAWKINGS.

Adrian J. WEBB has published “An Index of Somerset Probate Inventories”.  However, few inventories survive for High Littleton.

In producing this transcription all the above sources have been tapped. Further extracts, notes and dates of wills (which no longer exist) have been located, inter alia, in Schedules of Deeds, Abstracts of Title and other High Littleton property records, Vestry Minutes and Court Depositions. The wills in this section have been placed in alphabetical order by testator.  At the end of the transcription of the wills there is a full name index, which includes testators, beneficiaries, witnesses and everyone else mentioned in the transcriptions and extracts (but not in the author's notes).

Wills and probate records for England & Wales from 1858 onwards are held at the Principal Registry of the Family Division at Somerset House, Strand, London with yearly indexes on access in a number of local registries around the country. Copy wills from that date onwards are easily obtainable and are not the subject of this section.

Will of John Britten 1656
Will of John Britten of High Littleton
dated 10th July 1656
 (click to enlarge)