Wills and Estates

Wills can be and are a treasure trove to genealogists. In these documents, parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, spouses and relatives are found and relationships proven. They are legal documents with a wealth of information, they along with estate listings give a glimpse into days gone by. You can garner a real insight into a persons life by the estate listing, a wagon for 50 cents, a spinning wheel for 10 shillings. Did the deceased have many books, the implication is that someone in the house was literate and most likely liked to read.

 What language was the will written in? Did they sign it with a signature or an "X". The signature can be used to prove who a person was or their paper trail. One of my ancestors signed the manifest of the sailing ship they came to America on and comparing that signature to his will, the signature was vitually identical 60 years later.

The will can often tell the relationship the person writing the will had with the people mentioned in the will: "my beloved wife" "my darling daughter" or "my shiftless son". What was written often gives clues into their feelings.

The wills on these pages are scans of photocopies of original wills or transcriptions. Most of these wills were obtained from the clerks of the courts where they were filed some up to 300 years ago.