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Ledbury Wills and Inventories - An Introduction

Until 1857 wills had to be proved in the ecclesiastical courts. Ledbury wills were proved in the diocesan court of Hereford. These documents are now kept at the Herefordshire Record Office. When a person held land in more than one diocese their will had to be proved in the court of the Archdiocese. For Herefordshire, this meant the Archdiocese of Canterbury. These wills are now kept at the National Archives.

The value of their personal goods had to be assessed as part of the probate procedure. The inventory is the list of these items. Inventories may list the contents of the house and the stock in trade of craftsmen as well as animals and crops belonging to farmers. Many of these items no longer in current use and appearing in the Ledbury inventories are listed in a glossary of Inventory Terms compiled by one of the Herefordshire EPE volunteers.

The transcriptions of the wills, inventories and, where this applies, a will and its associated inventory, are divided into twenty year periods. In a will or inventory the date is given by the Julian Calendar in which each year began on 25th March but, if this date is between 1st January and 25th March, the document title year is given as Julian/Gregorian.

 There are 422 documents available online transcribed from the originals held in the Herefordshire Record Office and The National Archives.

The Ledbury Wills Group consisted of Gillian Bateman, Janet Funke, Ann Jones, Veslemoy Lunt, Val McDonald, Christabel Panter, Anne Ralph, Barry Sharples, David and Ann Tombs and Philip Weaver, Linda Banwell, Liz Keatley, Celia Kellett, Vicki McNeill, Jerry Pearce, Margaret Rippe and Jenny Treasure. Expert advice and guidance in reading 16th and 17th century wills was provided by Dr. Janet Cooper. 

Content generated during research for two paperback books 'Ledbury: A Market Town and its Tudor Heritage' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-598-7) and 'Ledbury: People and Parish before the Reformation' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-614-4) for the England's Past for Everyone series

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