Index of wills in West Kent to 1650

Using the index
* Look for a surname
* List of aliases
* Looking for a place
and other uses for the index
* About the index
Looking at wills
*What is a will?
*[Looking at the original]
*[Obtaining a transcription]
*[Sharing information]
*[Interesting points found in wills]

This index collects over 19,000 entries from six sources into a single index in a standard format that can easily be searched. A version is provided here for locating individuals by surname. A list of aliases is provided which gives leads to alternative spellings and quite often a different name entirely.

Because there are other uses for this index besides surname searching a text version is available for downloading which can then be sorted and selected. For example it is not difficult to extract all the wills for a particular parish then sort them by date.

During the course of this research some of the wills have been transcribed (they're all written in English but the 400 year old handwriting takes a lot of getting used to - hence the convenience of a typed version). These are marked in the index as are also some where interesting points have been found.

All these wills are available for public inspection at the various archives where they are held. Sometimes these are conveniently available on microfilm and sometimes the originals themselves can be viewed. There are lots of details of real people's lives lying in these archives waiting to be unearthed.

This index has been compiled by Jean Fox. If you have corrections, additions or further transcriptions then let Jean know so we can update the index and make it a richer source for historians.

This index has been compiled by Jean Fox.
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Intoduction Introduction Surname search Sources
  1. The Index of Wills Proved in the Rochester Consistory Court 1440-1561 (refered to, in entries, as "the book").
  2. The card index in CKS, Maidstone of wills proved in the Rochester Consistory Court up to 1653.
  3. Index to Deanery of Shoreham Wills and Administrations, 1614-1821 (Kent parishes; wills of testators and indication where there is an Act Book entry up to 1653).
  4. Index of Wills Proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury; London, British Record Society for parishes covered by sources 1, 2 and 3; Volumes 1 & 2 (1383-1558); Volume 3 (1559-83); Volume 4 (1584-1604); Volume 5 (1605-19); Volume 6 (1620-29).
  5. Abstracts of Probate Acts in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury; London, 93 & 94 Chancery Lane for parishes covered by sources 1, 2 and 3; Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 (1630-49).
  6. Testamentary Records in the Commissary Court of London; HMSO, for parishes covered by sources 1, 2 and 3.
The wills from sources 1, 2 and 3 are held in the Centre for Kentish Studies, County Hall Maidstone, those from sources 4 and 5 in the Public Record Office, London and those from source 6 in the Guildhall Library, London.

Source 1 also gives some references to probate acts (pa), administrations (A) and "coll. litterati" (coll). These references are indicated with an * and reference should be made to the source book for details.

Source 3 also gives entries for testamentary information contained in Act Books but with no surviving will. No details of these are held at Maidstone; they are indicated in this index by the reference "AB" and more details can be obtained by reference to the Deanery of Shoreham index.

Source 4 sometimes gives additional information taken from the Public Act Book and this is indicated in the index entries by "P.A.B."

Source 5 gives the name of the person who proved the will, sometimes with extra information.

RochesterSources 1 & 2about 14,250 entries13,200 wills
ShorehamSource 3about 800 entries550 wills
PCCSources 4 & 5about 3,900 entries
LondonSource 6about 100 entries

Intoduction Sources Surname search Abbreviations and format


b. buried
d.b.n. of goods unadministered by
d.m. during minority of
m; man
N.E. no executor nominated in will
P.A.B. Public Act Book
P.r. power reserved for administering a like grant
t.a.i. Tanquam ab intestato (as of an intestate)
w; woman
w.p.b. will proved by

Format of index

Entries are organised as one line of data per will
Basic information
Alternative spelling of surname
Where a name occurs in a variety of forms, the most common form is used as the basic reference with the particular variation in brackets, after the complete name. Thus, all variations can be referenced together in first name order within surname.
Parish For PCC wills, many locations are sometimes given for one testator; in this index the Kent parish is given priority even though it may be subsidiary to other locations. Some can have more than one location within the geographical area covered and, in this case, these are given in the same order as in the source volume but, where there is insufficient space in the Location field, the list is continued under "Notes". Wills where the location is just "Kent" without a parish have not been included.
Date p - proved
d - dated
f - filed
c - about
pd - proved and dated the same year.
  • Source 1: Dates are in the old form, i.e. year begins on 25th March.
  • Sources 2 and 3: dates up to 25th March are given in the form 1566/7.
  • Sources 4, 5 and 6: only the year is given
Index data
Court P - PCC
S - Deanery of Shoreham
L - London
  • For RCC wills:
    Drb/Pwr number - reel and folio of will register; 5*?? and 6*?? are Act Book refereneces
    generally Drb/Pw - reel number for original will; F if will filed but reference not known; occasionally the number is Dra/Pw1.