Family History Notebook

Raine's Testamenta Eboracensia

From the Northumberland & Durham Family History Society preface to their microfiche reproduction of  Herbert Maxwell Wood's (handwritten) transcript of Canon Raine's abstracts from wills at York:-

Newcastle City Library has a large volume under reference L929.3 entitled Testamenta Eboracensia (York Wills), a manuscript transcript compiled in 1926 by Herbert Maxwell Mood, apparently from twelve volumes now in Northumberland County Record Office (reference ZAN/M15/B19-27). The volumes consist of extracts from Wills, Inventories and other related Probate documents from some of the various probate courts which formerly operated in York and relate to the period from the mid-16- century to 1801. The Wills etc relate mainly, but not wholly, to testators from the counties of Durham and Northumberland. The contents of the Newcastle Library book are now being reproduced in microfiche form, with the cooperation of Newcastle Libraries and Information Service.

Wills and other Probate documents can be an immensely interesting and valuable source of historical and genealogical information. A full series of articles on Wills relating to Durham and Northumberland appeared in Journal of Northumberland & Durham Family History Society, Vol 19, numbers 2 and 3 (Summer and Autumn 1994). Most of these articles had been reproduced on the NDFHS Internet pages
{but this site is no longer available. Instead use the following links:-
Lets Talk of Wills...
Wills in "Archaeologia Aeliana" 3rd Series Vol. XII
How Many Made Wills?
Personal Names in Wills Proved at Durham 1787-1791
In Manner And Form Following ... A Light-Hearted Look at Wills
J.C. Hodgson's "Northumberland Wills"
Wills in Allendale MSS at Northumberland Record Office
York and Canterbury Wills
Index of York Wills Probably Relating to Hexham and Hexhamshire}
It is not possible here to give more than a brief outline of the background.

For hundreds of years, until 1858, the Church administered wills and other probate matters through Courts of various types. The country was divided into a northern province, under the Archbishop of York, and a southern province, under the Archbishop of Canterbury. Within each province, there were a number of Dioceses eg York province included the Diocese of Durham, which had their own probate jurisdiction, subject to certain rules. The Consistory Court in Durham had responsibility for probate matters over the whole of the counties of Durham and Northumberland and tbe pre-1858 wills can be fond in Durham University, Archives and Special Collections, Palace Green, Durban. However, there was an important exception - certain south west Northumberland areas, known as Hexhamshire, were under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of York, and not Durham. The parishes involved were Allendale, Allenheads or Allendale St Peter, Bingfield St Mary, Carrshields or High West Allen, Hexham, Ninebanks or Low West Allen, St John Lee, St Oswald in Lee , and Whitley Chapel. This situation existed until 1837, and pre-1837 wills for persons in these areas are at University of York, Borthwick lnstitute of Historical Research, St Anthony's Hall, York YO2 2PW. All the wills etc listed on these microfiche should be there.

 It was from these York Wills that Canon Raine compiled his volumes of Testamenta Eboracensia and it is from H M Wood's transcription of some of Maine's work that these microfiche have been prepared.

The Durham historical publishing society, the Surtees Society, publisbed six volumes of Testamenta Eboracensia (Volumes 4, 30, 45, 53, 79 and 106) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These covered the period from 1316 to the 1500s. Twelve volumes covering later periods (the 1550's to 1801) were never published and it is Wood's copies of these volumes which are now reproduced on microfiche.

It is important to realise that the published volumes did NOT include complete transcripts of all wills. and even those included are often only partially transcribed. The selection criteria , at least in the early published volumes. seems to have aimed at including "gentry" from the whole tract of country "from the Humber to the Tweed".

The selection criteria for the twelve volumes on these fiche seems to differ from that in the published volumes and appears to relate much more to Northumberland and Duram. Indeed, some are titled Raines Hexhamhire. This is a most misleading title. Hexhamshire is indeed an area of great significance in relation to York Wills (as outlined earlier) but the wills etc included relate not only to this region of south west Northumberland, but to all of the two counties, as far north as Berwick and as far south as the River Tees, the boundary between County Durham and Yorkshire. as well as to the Hexhm area. Moreover. there are many items included from elsewhere in the country. and abroad.

 In detail, the twelve volumes
Volume I contains extracts from Wills, Inventories etc from a number of specific families - Apleby. Ascough, Bowser, Bulmer, Calverley, Chaitor, Danby, Etherington, Feilding (sic), Gale, Gascoyne, Gyll, Ingeby, Mitcalfe, Milbank, Robinson, Rokeby, Shuttleworth. Smithson, Stockburne. Wharlton and Wycliffe - with names of the beneficiaries (mainly family) and what they were to receive. They date from 1554 to 1772. As stated earlier, there is an index, but it does not include all the beneficiaries.
Volume II is headed Raine's Hexhamshire, Adminstrations and Probates 1593-1602 and is an Abstract of a thin Vol bound in parchment in the York Court. This volume does sees to relate solely to Hexhamshire, including people from Hexham (sometimes abbreviated to 'H'), St John Lee, Allendale ('Alle'), Acombe, St Oswald etc. There are a few Probates included, but in the main the entries are quite brief. relating to Administrations and mentioning the deceased and the relatives who were to administer the estate.
Volume III is titled Admissions - presumably Administrations - and Probates 1598-1686. There is a heading Extracts from the Prerogative Act Books at York relating to Durham & Northumberland - All. Unlike Volume II, the entries relate to people from all over the two counties, and consist of quite brief notes on Administrations to more extensive extracts from Wills.
Volume IV - Raine's Hexhamshire Administrations & Probates 1687-1727
Volume V   - Raine's Test Ehor Administrations & Probates 1727-1772
Volume VI - Raines Test Ebor Administrations & Probates 1773-1801
These three volumes are similar to Volume II, relating to the whole of Durham and Northumberland, despite the varying titles.
Volume VII Raines Test Ebor, Wills 1705-1721 contains extensive details from wills of testators from all over England, often titled but including 'gentlemen' but also more lowly people, including yeomen and a tanner from Hexham
Volume VIII Raine's Test Ebor, Wills 1731-1739. Similar to Volume VII with many Northumberland & Durham entries. from Volumes 82 to 86 of the Registers at York.
Volume IX Raine's Test Ebor, Wills 1721-1731. Similar to Volume VIII. from Volumes 76 to 81 of the York Registers.
Volume X Raine's Test Ebor, Wills 1740-1750. Similar to the previous three volumes. From Volumes 87 to 94 of the Registers.
Volume XI Raine's Test Ebor, Wills 1751-1770. From Volumes 94 to 114 of York registers. Similar to the previous volumes.
Volume XII Raine's Test Ebor, Wills from Probate Registry Vols 115 to 137. 1771-1793. Similar to the previous volumes.

Each of the twelve volumes is reproduced a a separate set of fiche. Volume I has its wn index, which appears at the end of that volume. The later volumes are covered by a single index, showing the volume number and page number. and this index is reproduced as a separate set of fiche. No check has been made of the accuracy or completeness of these indexes and it is particularly important to understand that they are indexes of testators etc only. The names of beneficiaries and others who might be mentioned in the will extracts are not included.

Note that all volumes include facing pages. with detail added by the transcriber HM Wood, of relevant entries from Northumberland & Durham Burial Registers.

These microfiche have been prepared with the permission and assistance of Newcastle Libraries and Information Service. Royalties from their sale will go to maintain and extend the Local Studies collections at Newcastle Library.