INDEXES TO NORTHAMPTONSHIRE WILLS: INTRODUCTION


These pages provide indexes to wills and certain related documents most of which were proved at Northampton or Peterborough up to 1600. A few wills of Northants residents were proved outside the county and these have been included where known. Most of the original wills or copies thereof are held by the Northamptonshire Record Office (NRO).

The index gives the name of the deceased, their occupation or status if given, the place at which they resided, the year in which the will was proved (not when it was written) and reference information.

From 1510 wills were written into large books starting with the 1st series, 2nd series and so on. Within a series there may be several books such as 3rd series book D. Within each book each will is numbered, and the number of the will and the folio number are given in this index. For example, the will of Joan Abatt, widow, of Irthlingborough appears in Northamptonshire wills 1st series book P as will number 4 on folio number 1. Sometimes, however, a will was not numbered or the number is now lost through damage. Some wills are loose, in bundles or in numbered boxes in which case box numbers are given. The wills of some residents of Rutland were proved at Peterborough and are included here.

Abbreviations used in the index are as follows:

A=Administration
C=Codicil
I=Inventory
Ind=Indenture
Mar.Lic.= Marriage licence
Ob=Obligation
Presents=A patron presents his choice to a living
Probate=Probate granted
Vacated=The vacation of a living
W=Will

An asterisk in the Notes column denotes that a will once existed but is now lost. An 'a' means alias hence 'a Smith' means also known as Smith.

Some wills are damaged and incomplete and in some cases the name of the testator is missing. Wills with missing names and wills where only the occupation of the testator is given (eg some clergy) are listed separately after the A to Z sequence.

While some surnames have been spelt consistently for hundreds of years or have minor spelling variations, such as Smith and Smythe, the spelling of many surnames was not consistent and some names can occur under two initial letters such as Youle and Ule, Ingram and Yngram. Even where an initial letter is consistent, names can occur some distance apart in a listing, for instance Hicks and Hyx.

These pages include wills before 1600 listed in Calendar of Wills relating to the counties of Northampton and Rutland proved in the court of the Archdeacon of Northampton 1510-1652. This book contains a helpful discussion of the arrangements for proving wills in the county and of the contents of the various will books that exist. The full text of this book is available in Archive.org.

Over 140 wills of people living in the town of Northampton dating from 1462 to 1509 are translated in Early Northampton Wills published by the Northamptonshire Record Society, Volume 42, 2005.

Before the creation of the Diocese of Peterborough, some Northants wills were proved at Lincoln. These early wills tend to be of priests, merchants, knights and other high-status people. Some Lincoln wills are included here but the coverage is probably not comprehensive. To obtain a more comprehensive listing see the various volumes of indexes to Lincoln wills published by the Index Library some of which are available in Archive.org.

These pages do not include the wills of Northamptonshire residents proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. These are available through The National Archives website or through commercial sites such as Ancestry. Note, however, that while all the PCC wills are online, finding all the wills relating to a particular place may exclude some wills as sometimes a placename is not given in the online index or is spelt in an unusual way such that it is not found when searching by place, for example Finedon and Thyngdon. For a comprehensive listing of wills for a particular place it is best to refer to the several volumes of indexes to wills proved at the PCC. These, or some of them, are also available in Archive.org (see a partial list here) and their indexes show lists of wills proved by county giving the placename of the testator.

The original index was compiled from extensive research by Kay Collins and appears here with kind permission.