What’s avail­able on­line and in the archives

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Court cases

Many of the court cases at The Na­tional Archives (TNA) in Kew have been in­dexed and can be searched via dis­cov­­tion­

uk. There is some­times quite a lot of in­for­ma­tion in the ab­stract alone. Even so, it’s al­ways worth or­der­ing the doc­u­ment. Oc­ca­sion­ally, his­tory so­ci­eties in the 19th cen­tury will have tran­scribed and pub­lished some of these cases. Ex­am­ples in­clude Lan­cashire and Cheshire Cases in the Court of Star Cham­ber (1916). These books can usu­ally be found on ar­ or

fam­il­y­ You may also find sum­maries in the let­ters and pa­pers of Henry VIII, ab­stracts of which are on the web­site Bri­tish His­tory On­line: bri­tish-his­

Heraldic vis­i­ta­tions

The Har­leian manuscripts con­tain­ing de­tails of the vis­i­ta­tions have been pub­lished by the Har­leian So­ci­ety in as­sorted 19th and early 20th-cen­tury books such as The Vis­i­ta­tion of the County of Glouces­ter Taken in the Year 1623 (1885). They can usu­ally be ac­cessed through ar­ (in this case, ar­­tails/ vis­i­ta­tion of coun00inc hit) or fam­ily search. org. The orig­i­nal manuscripts are at the Bri­tish Li­brary. The of­fi­cial vis­i­ta­tions are at the Col­lege of Arms, and you must pay a her­ald to search them on your be­half: col­

In­qui­si­tions post mortem

Cal­en­dars of IPMs, in­clud­ing ab­stracts of their con­tents, can be found on ar­, such as Notes of Post Mortem In­qui­si­tions Taken in Sus­sex: 1 Henry VII to 1649 and Af­ter (1912) at The orig­i­nals, which are in Latin, are at TNA.

Par­ish records and Bish­ops’ Tran­scripts

In many cases these have been tran­scribed and re­duced to their es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion by the Mor­mons, and can be con­sulted for free on

fam­il­y­ How­ever, this in­dex suf­fers from tran­scrip­tion er­rors and the omis­sion of use­ful in­for­ma­tion, such as oc­cu­pa­tion. The records them­selves can, de­pend­ing on the county in ques­tion, be ac­cessed through

find­my­ or an­ces­ In all cases, mi­cro­films of the records are at the rel­e­vant county ar­chive and at the Lon­don Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tre lo­cated at TNA. Be aware that gen­try in the 16th cen­tury some­times had land in dif­fer­ent coun­ties, and many spent at least some of their lives in Lon­don, for ex­am­ple train­ing as lawyers.


If your an­ces­tor was par­tic­u­larly wealthy or he (some­times she) owned land in both the prov­inces of Can­ter­bury and of York then their will will have been proved at the Pre­rog­a­tive Court of Can­ter­bury. These wills can be down­loaded, for £3.50 each, from TNA’s web­site: Other wills are at the rel­e­vant county ar­chive. In some cases they are part of record col­lec­tions on Find­my­past (for ex­am­ple the one for the dio­ce­ses of Lich­field and Coven­try; Many county ‘cal­en­dars’ (lists and ab­stracts) of wills are on the In­ter­net Ar­chive at ar­, such as A Cal­en­dar of Wills Re­lat­ing to the Coun­ties of Northamp­ton and Rut­land Proved in the Court of the Archdea­con of Northamp­ton, 1510 to 1652 (1888) at Some­times the (of­ten Latin) record of the will, which in­cludes some ge­nealog­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, sur­vives but the will it­self doesn’t.

The Col­lege of Arms, founded in 1484, main­tains of­fi­cial reg­is­ters of coats of arms and pedi­grees

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