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Civil Registration
Poor Law Records

Devon (DEV)


  1. To determine the probate jurisdiction for any place in Devon go to the Online Gazetteer of Devon. Start with the first alphabetical index and click on the parish to which the place belongs. The probate jurisdiction for that parish appears in the opening line of the 2nd paragraph describing that parish. In a few cases you can also click on the subject of "Probate Records" under that line.
    Unfortunately, almost all of the original pre-1858 probate records for Devon were housed at Exeter where they were destroyed by air raids in 1942. This includes any of the probate jurisdictions where Exeter is part of the court's name, plus the Archdeaconries of Barnstaple, Exeter and Totnes. Still available are some abstracts of probate documents, copy wills for 1812-1858, and the Inquisitions post mortem, 1216-1649 that can be used as a substitute for the wills. Accordingly, the decision tables are designed to help you find (A) the surviving pre-1800 abstracts and substitute wills, (B) the Estate Duty registers for 1796-1811 and the Estate Duty Wills for 1812-1858, and (C-G) the few probate records not housed at Exeter. A consolidated index to any surviving probate records for Devon is being constructed. Go to GENUKI.
  2. If research involves one of the places listed below, match the designated letter in parentheses (C-G) with the subsequent heading in the decision table.
Place Court
Cockington Manorial Court of Cockington (E)
Dalwood Pre-1836, Archdeaconry of Dorset (D)
Northcott Archdeaconry of Cornwall (C)
North Petherwin Archdeaconry of Cornwall (C)
St Giles of the Heath Archdeaconry of Cornwall (C)
Stockland Pre-1836, Archdeaconry of Dorset (D)
Templeton Manorial Court of Templeton (F)
Thorncombe Post-1836, Archdeaconry of Dorset (D)
Uffculme Prebendal Court of Uffculme (G)
Werrington Archdeaconry of Cornwall (C)

Decision Table

For those who lived in (A) to compensate for the destruction, Search:

  1. The filmed card Index to Wills and the printed indexes for Devon
  2. For the Middle Ages-1699: the registers of the bishops of Exeter, the Exeter City Archives, Inventories from 1531-1699, and the Inquisitions post mortem, 1216-1649
  3. From about 1600-1800: collections of abstracts made by Moger, Murray and Worthy
  4. Prerogative Court of Canterbury (see London: PCC)
  5. Court of Arches (see London: Arches)
  6. Court of Delegates (see London: Delegates)

For those who lived in (B) the time of the Estate Duty records, Search:

  1. For 1796-1811, the Estate Duty Registers
  2. For 1812-1858, the Estate Duty Wills
  3. Steps 4-6 listed under (A)

For those who lived in (C) the Archdeaconry of Cornwall, Search:

  1. Archdeaconry of Cornwall (see Cornwall)
  2. Steps 4-6 listed under (A)

For those who lived in (D) the Archdeaconry of Dorset, Search:

  1. Archdeaconry of Dorset (see Dorset)
  2. Consistory of Bristol (see Dorset)
  3. Steps 4-6 listed under (A)

For those who lived in (E-F) the manors of Cockington and Templeton, Search:

  1. The respective manorial court records (see Manorial Courts below)
  2. Steps 4-6 listed under (A)

For those who lived in (G) the Prebendary of Uffculme, Search:

  1. Prebendal Court of Uffculme
  2. Court of the Dean of Salisbury (see Wiltshire)
  3. Steps 4-6 listed under (A)

Filmed Card Index to Wills and the Printed Indexes

  1. 1200-1900, (FHL films 1278569 A-Ha, 1278570 He-S, 1278571 T-Z)
    The card index was created by the Devon Record Office to index surviving wills and administrations in various collections, including the Mayor's Court rolls and the Orphans' Court in the City of Exeter. It does not include the Registers of the Bishops of Exeter nor Moger's works. Inquiries about any records not outlined below should be directed to the Devon Record Office. The current address can be obtained from the GENUKI web site for Devon under the subject of Archives.
  2. 1540/1559-1799, (FHL 942 B4b) and (BYU CS 434 .B7), volume 35
    This is volume 35 of the Index Library series (BRS). It indexes the Principal Registry of the Bishop of Exeter starting in 1559 and the Archdeaconry of Exeter from 1540. Both BRS volumes 35 and 46 have been scanned into the system and can be found here and here. The search is free when searching at the FHL or using the computers in the Family History section of the BYU library. If you find a likely ancestral entry in either the printed or online version of the index, try searching the abstracts listed below.
  3. 1532-1800, (FHL 942 B4b) and (BYU CS 434 .B7), volume 46
    This is volume 46 of the Index Library series (BRS). It indexes the Consistory of the Bishop of Exeter. It is also on as described above. BRS volumes 35 and 46 are also available under FHL 942.3 S2f, volumes 1-3. There is no printed index for the Archdeaconry of Totnes but there is for the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple as described in the Miscellaneous Section.

Registers of the Bishops of Exeter

Some wills appear in the Episcopal Registers, 1257-1455, as outlined in the indexes of the 10 volumes compiled by Francis Charles Hingeston-Randolph. Volume 1 covers 1257-1307 under FHL 942.35 B4ed. The remaining volumes are under 942.35 B4ex as follows: Volume 2 covers 1307-1326, volume 3 for 1327-1330, volume 4 for 1331-1360, volume 5 for 1360-1369, volume 6 for 1370-1384, volume 7 for 1385-1394, volume 8 for 1395-1419, and volumes 9-10 cover 1419-1455.

Exeter City Archives

The Mayor's Court Rolls cover 1286-1701 and include probates. Some 19 additional wills are found in the Miscellaneous Deeds for 1327-1511. A listing of these wills including the date of probate, name of the testator and the deed number where the copy will is located is available in the Historical Manuscripts Commission's Report on the Records of the City of Exeter, 1916, pages 281-282. (FHL fiche 6023245-6023256 and BYU DA 25 .M2 E9) The listing for five of these wills includes further names and relationships. Likewise, pages 414-416 of the same report add 75 wills probated, 1555-1765, of citizens who left orphans behind. There is an index to wills, 1562-1697, in the Orphans' Court Books at the City Record Office in Exeter. The e-mail address for the city is

Inventories, 1531-1699

Some 266 inventories survived as they were gathered as evidence in suits involving disputed estates. They were originally in the Consistory Court of Exeter and the Episcopal Principal Registry of Exeter. A number of the inventories add names and relationships. They were compiled by Margaret Cash and published as Devon Inventories of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, 1966. (FHL 942.3 B4dc N.S., volume 11 and BYU DA 670 .D49 D6 new ser., volume 11) All are deposited at the Devon Record Office.

Inquisitions Post Mortem

Start with Edward Alexander Fry's Calendar of Inquisitiones Post Mortem for Cornwall and Devon, from Henry III to Charles I (1216-1649). (FHL 942.3 B4dc 1906) Devon is on pages 40-158. Then see the abstracts for Devon bound in 16 small volumes on films both at the FHL and BYU as follows: for surnames A-B on 917525, C on 917526, D-G on 917527, H-L on 917528, M-Sh on 917255 and Sh-Z on 917256.

Abstracts of Wills, 1600-1800

Sir Oswyn Murray Collection

This is the largest collection of wills. They are arranged alphabetically for wills of persons from Devon in several different courts, including the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The entire set of films is available at both the FHL and BYU as follows:

A-Bel 917257 Ben-By 917258
C-Clay 916897 Cle-Cu 916898
D-Dyer 916899 E-Futts 916900
G-Gyst 916901 H-Haz 916902
He-Holm 916903 Holw-K 916904
L-Lynne 916905 M-My 916906
N-Per 916907 Pet-Pru 916908
Pud-Ry 916909 S-Smith 916910
Sn-Sy 916911 T-Vye 916912
W-Y 916913 2nd/3rd series, A-Z 916914

Olive M. Moger Collection

There are 44 typed volumes bound alphabetically under FHL 942.35 S2m. They are also all on film at BYU except for Lid-O on film 916875 as follows:

A-Bay 916915 Be-Caw 916916
Ch-Coop 916870 Cor-Ef 916871
Eg-Gl 916872 Go-Hay 916873
He-Le 916874 P-Rod 916876
Rog-Sme 916877 Smith-T 916878
U-Z 916879    

Charles Worthy Collection

This work was published in 1896 and is found on FHL film 246879. It includes abstracts of wills and administrations for all of the courts at Exeter for 31 family names listed in the table of contents. The coverage is roughly from the mid-16th century through the early part of the 19th century.

Estate Duty Registers, 1796-1811

Starting in 1796 a tax was collected on estates worth over $10. Registers were kept until 1903 showing the amount levied and abstracts of the wills and administrations that were taxed, perhaps 25% of all the estates probated before 1805. The registers may contain additional information not found in the actual probate documents. The registers and their indexes are filed by the names of the courts involved in the probate process. The indexes (IRS 27) are on film 1368371 and the registers/abstracts are on films 1368366-1368369.

Estate Duty Wills, 1812-1857

Starting in 1812 a far greater percentage of wills were taxed and an exact copy of the will was now required. There are no administrations in this group of records. The index for the Devon Estate Duty Wills is on FHL film 1278571, item 2. The index is also online. To use it, go to The National Archives and choose Advanced Search. Type the surname of interest in the box "all these words" and 1078/IRW in "this exact wording or phrase." Under Repository, select Devon Record Office and then Search. Now that you have the name of the testator, you can see the actual will on the following films arranged alphabetically, 1278809-1278812, 1278839-1278841, 1278854-1278855, 1278878-1278882, 1278959-1278971, and 1470864-1470870. For details of the alphabetical coverage of each film, type 1278809 under Film Numbers on the menu of the FHL catalog at FamilySearch.

Manorial Courts

There were two manorial courts. The probate records for the Manor of Cockington cover 1540-1754 and will be found on FHL film 1526358, items 1-2. The surviving records for the Manor of Templeton are outlined by Hugh Peskett in "Manorial Probate Courts of Devon," Genealogists' Magazine 18(June, 1976):295-296 (FHL 942 B2gm and at BYU CS 410 .S61 in the compact shelving for pre-1987 periodicals).

Prebendal Court of Uffculme

Uffculme was a prebendary of the Dean of Salisbury but its records will be described here. There are registered copy wills for 1543-1553 on FHL film 1067166, item 3. The original wills for 1623-1799 are on FHL film 1067166, item 4, and for 1800-1857 on FHL film 1067167, item 1. Abstracts of most of the wills and inventories for people from Uffculme from the 16th -18th centuries were published by Peter Wyatt (FHL 942.3 B4dc new ser., volume 40). Another 166 documents from the PCC for 1528-1700 appear on pages 229-270 of Uffculme: a Peculiar Parish(FHL 942.35/U1 H2u)

Miscellaneous Section

  1. The work compiled by Richard Izacke and published in 1736 by Samuel Izacke (FHL 942.35 J5i) provides abstracts from some of the wills in the Exeter City Archives.
  2. Olive M. Moger also made an index to testamentary materials found in the Principal Registry of Exeter (FHL 942.3 S2m).
  3. Transcripts of 1 inventory and 3 wills from the Manorial Court of Cockington appear in the Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 38(1997-2001):33-38 (FHL 942.3 B2d) as follows: Inventory of Symon Bourton, 1663/4; Will of Mary Bickford, 1693; Will of Sarah Masters, 1730/1; and the Will of Elizabeth Punching, 1732/3.
  4. Not available at either the FHL or BYU is Index of the Wills and Administrations relating to the County of Devon proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple, 1563-1858 edited by J.J. Beckerlegge and published by the Devonshire Association in 1950.
  5. The Society of Genealogists, London, has a photocopy of a calendar of wills for the parish of Braunton, 1632-1857, under the jurisdiction of the Dean of Exeter, and for the parish of Woodbury, 1633-1858, under the jurisdiction of the Custos and College of Vicars Choral. See the call number DE/G 72 in their online catalog. The calendar for Woodbury is now online as part of the Devon Wills Project mentioned above in the second paragraph under "Jurisdictions."