When Death Do Us Part - understanding and interpreting the probate records of early modern England
Date of publication: 2000
Publisher: Local Population Studies
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Probate records are a vital source for historians of the early modern period. They are useful in understanding a vast range of economic, social and demographic issues and exist in great numbers for most regions of the country and the parishes that lay within them. Over time they have become more and more frequently used by both family and professional historians but there has been little written on probate evidence in its various forms and this book is designed to help researchers interpret the records. The first part of the book deals with the legal background of the records and discusses the uses of the three principal sources; wills, inventories and accounts. Sample probate documents are shown, as are various ecclesiastical Canons and Acts of Parliament. The second part of the book deals with four different methods of studying wills and two explorations of the potential of probate accounts. The final part of the book concentrates on probate inventories, also included are seventeen essays which give an insight into the probate records of early modern England.
This is an ideal guide for both novice and more experienced researchers alike as it emphasises method, approach and interpretation - illustrated by general discussion as well as specific case studies.