Sunderland Wills and Inventories
Almost 500 wills and inventories, pertaining to Sunderland in the period 1549-1700, have now been identified and transcribed thanks to the sterling work of our Washington volunteers, led by John Smith. The probate records range across a broad section of local society – from the Hilton family at the top of the social scale down to labourers and poor widows at the lower end. As such this material provides a wealth of information regarding the occupations, living standards and communal and family relationships of the inhabitants of Sunderland during the period under consideration. Most of the wills and inventories identified were proved in the Durham diocesan probate court, which had jurisdiction where the deceased’s entire estate fell within the diocese of Durham. The records of these are held in Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections section. See the Library’s online probate project, North East Inheritance, for further detailed information on these sources. In a small number of cases however, where the estate of the deceased encompassed more than one diocese, probate was granted in the Archdiocesan Prerogative courts of Canterbury or, on occasion, York. The probate records of the former are held in The National Archives and the latter in the Borthwick Institute, York.
Content generated during research for two paperback books 'Sunderland and its Origins: Monks to Mariners' (ISBN 13 : 9781860774799) and 'Sunderland: Building a City' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-547-5 ) for the England's Past for Everyone series