Fri, 16 Oct 09 16:21:00
The National Library of Wales has good news for family historians, social historians … and the inquisitive! Over 190,000 Welsh wills (some 800,000 pages) have been digitised and are now available on the Library’s website or direct on our online catalogue and are free to view.
Wills which were proved in the Welsh ecclesiastical courts before the introduction of Civil Probate on 11 January 1858 have long been deposited at The National Library of Wales. An online index and an opportunity to view digital images of these wills within the Library building has been available for sometime, however, from today remote users will also be able to view the digital images.
Amongst the collection is the will of Twm Siôn Cati alias Thomas Johnes, Fountaine Gate, Caron (SD1609-20), this year being the 400th anniversary of his death. The will of Howell Harris, the famous Welsh religious reformer can also be seen (BR1773-51).
As well as being a fabulous source of information the National Library’s online wills offer the ability to view all 193,000 wills free of charge, a service few other similar institutions are able to offer. Whilst most institutions charge readers to view their documents, the Library only charges for providing copies of them.
A trial launch of the site to sort out any minor problems has already proved a hit with visitors from as far afield as Australia and California praising the content and the free view policy of the Library.
To request a printed copy of any will please complete the online enquiry form quoting the reference number of the will e.g. BR1773-51.
Glimpse some of the Wills
Howell Harris BR1773-51.
Oakley Leigh, Brongest, Lampeter, SD1788-80
‘Agent to the tyrannical squire, Sir Herbert Lloyd. The parish register recorded his extramarital exploits and no less than eleven 'natural' (illegitimate) children were named as beneficiaries in his will.’
William Awbrey, doctor of civil law and Chancellor of St Davids, SD1641-10.
The will referes to; my ‘most loveinge and welbeloved wife, Bridgett Awbrey’, and praises her for ‘her true love, carefullness and paynefullnes with me...’. The contents of his house and his clothing are described in the inventory.’
Miles Bassett, Cardiff, LL1680-10.
‘And [I could put] as little confidence in my crabbed churlish unnaturall, heathenish, and unhuman sonne inlawe Leyson Evans and Anne his wife; I never found noe love, shame nor honestie with them....but basenesse and falsehood, knaverie and deceipt in them all, ever unto me....they were my greatest Enemies, I had no comfort in anie of them, but trouble & sorrow ever, they sued me in Londone in the Exchequier and in the Comonplease, and in the Marches at Ludlowe, and in the greate Sessions at Cardiff and thus they have vexed me ever of a long time.’
Some 1,000 documents have been written in Welsh, with over three quarters from the Diocese of Bangor. Wills in Welsh include Alban John, Betws [Bledrws] (SD1809-7) and a list of the properties of Catherine Daniel, Llanwenog (SD1835-247).
Thomas Lewis Lloyd, Nant-gwyllt, Cwmteuddwr, BR1783-20.
’I do solemnly acknowledge and declare that I was married to my Dearest and most affectionate Wife, Margaret Daughter of John Lewis, in the Parish Church of St Anne’s, Soho (tho’ out of respect to, and for fear of impairing the health of my Dear Mother, I proposed keeping it a secret during her life).’
Richard Hargest of Skynlas, Glasbury, BR1842-22. In his will, he cancelled debts which the trustees of Cwm Bach chapel owed to him. Left £280 to be invested in annuities, to pay for repairs to the building and to contribute to the Auxiliary Fund of the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion; any surplus was to be used for supporting and preaching the Gospel in the chapel. The trustees were to submit regular accounts at the quarterly meetings of the Circuit. He also bequeathed £100 to the Methodist Missionary Society; and further personal goods to relatives and friends.
Siôn Jobbins, NLW Press Office: 01970 632 902 firstname.lastname@example.org
Beryl Evans: NLW Family History: 01970 632 821 email@example.com