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The Wills of Our Ancestors: A Guide for Family & Local Historians (Family History (Pen & Sword)) Paperback – 15 Nov 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd (15 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848847858
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848847859
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 17.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have been writing handbooks and guides for genealogists and local historians since 1988. I trained as a historian at the Universities of Keele and Adelaide, and as a librarian at the College of Librarianship Wales. After 15 years working in academic libraries - first at the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, then at Ballarat College of Advanced Education, and finally at Deakin University, Geelong, I decided the best way to occupy myself was to write books that I would find useful in my own research. In so doing, I hope to encourage amateur family and local historians (and, indeed, history students at all levels) to trace their ancestry, or the history of their parish, in a scholarly way. They are aspiring to be historians, and there is no reason why their work should be any less valid than the work of professional historians. If they want to produce good history, then they need to make sure that their work is firmly based on the evidence provided by original sources. They need an appreciation of how these sources were created, what to expect from them, and an understanding of the many pitfalls that may catch out the unwary. That is what I try to provide in my books.

Product Description

About the Author

Stuart Raymond is a genealogical bibliographer, publisher and bookseller, an experienced family historian, and an expert on the history of wills and other probate records. He is also a prolific author of genealogical handbooks, web directories and library guides.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Field Marshall Haig on 20 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
There are many general books on family history research, most of which have a chapter on wills, but this book covers the topic in detail. It is comprehensive and would be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of the more advanced family history researcher.

I feel there are two areas in which the author makes generalisations, where further clarification could have been helpful. Firstly, he states that in the past, people tended to make wills when near death, the implication being that they died shortly afterwards. That is certainly true in the majority of cases, but there are others where an elderly testator must have made his or her will when suffering from an illness from which they subsequently recovered, or which lingered on for several years before death, and it is not uncommon to find examples of wills written up to 5 years before death, and occasionally earlier. Secondly, the author states that the range of kin named in wills did not generally go much beyond the nuclear family. That is certainly true, but not all testators had a nuclear family as such. Elderly bachelors, spinsters and childless widows and widowers would often have a large number of nephews, nieces, great nephews and great nieces, and leave bequests to all of them. Relationships were usually specified and the surnames of married nieces and great nieces given, so a will written by such a person can be a genealogical goldmine. Such a will can provide the tools to break down an otherwise unsurmountable 'brick wall' and I am surprised that the author did not point this out, or give an example.

There is a misprint on page 51: Doncaster, Co Durham, should be Darlington, Co Durham.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Barry on 22 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite having transcribed and analysed countless old wills for many years during my family history research, this book has enabled me to explore new avenues of information and inferences that I had previously overlooked. Thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miss Liz TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If an ancestor wrote a will they can be a great source of information, often detailing information such as married names of female members of a family, which family members may have emigrated and property which the family owned.

The first problem may be in locating a will, although this is now getting easier with probate records coming on line. However even if a will is obtained, it may often be written using legal phrases and terminology which can be off putting. This is where I have found this text useful.

I find the book very easy to dip in and out of for information, chapters are simply titled making information easy to find. It is an excellent reference book for those interested in obtaining and understanding the will of their ancestors.
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