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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 7 months ago

Wills, Inventories & Probate Accounts


Wills and probate inventories have been used extensively in preparing the 'biographies' of the Borderware potters in this study. Over a three year period in the early 1980s the Yateley History Project transcribed as many wills and inventories as could then be found for the ancient parish of Yateley. Until the 19th century the parish included Blackwater, Hawley, Minley, Cove and Southwood and the northern part of present-day Fleet. The parish thus extended from the Blackwater River in the north to Fleet Pond and Farnborough Airfield in the south. Today the Yateley Civil Parish is more or less only the ancient Inner Tithing of Yateley. The old 'Outer Tithing' has become the modern parishes of Hawley, Cove and Fleet. The Yateley History Project thus succeeded in transcribing most wills and inventories then located in the Hampshire Record Office before 1700.


The Yateley Society's YHP database thus already included many of the wills and inventories of the potters working in Cove and Hawley. For potters living on the Hampshire side of the Blackwater it was therefore only necessary to transcribe the wills of those potters living in Farnborough.


When Hampshire Record Office started to digitise their indices in the early 1990s Elizabeth Lewis of the Museum Service wrote the pioneering paper based on the wills and inventories of Blackwater Valley potters.


Nothing similar has been attempted for the Surrey side of the river. However Cliff Webb undertook the massive task of writing a calendar of all Surrey wills for the West Surrey Family History Society. This is available to researchers on the shelves at the Surrey History Centre in Woking. Chris Willis of the West Surrey FHS has searched these wills to compile a list of potters working in Surrey


Over the years the Yateley Society has added to its original collection of transcribed wills and inventories proved in the consistory and archdeacon's courts. Additions have mainly been those wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, available on microfilm at the Public Records Office. The recent availability of PCC wills as downloads of original images from the web has greatly improved the lot of this Hampshire researcher who can now balance the cost of the download against the cost of the railfare to London and the time it saves.


One major general finding of this study is that a large proportion of men recorded as potters in burial registers did leave wills which are still available to researchers. Almost all wills and administrations proved in the lower probate courts are also accompanied by probate inventories, and there are even some probate accounts to throw light on the business dealings.


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