Archive for the ‘Wills and Probate’ Category

So far it’s evident that Derbyshire RENSHAWs congregated mainly in the Chesterfield area, in the metal-working villages of the north-east corner close to Sheffield, around the lead mining locations in the Peak (especially near Wirksworth) and, later, in the coal-mining areas.  Before the industrial revolution was fully in swing, many RENSHAWs combined small-scale pastoral farming with metal-working and mining but the underground bounties of the county were vital to their  lives at all levels, from labourers to merchants and gentry.

The plan for the RENSHAW name-study is to collect as much information as possible, from Church of England and non-conformist records (births, baptisms, marriages, burials) and from harder to find sources such as Wills, newspapers and archive documents. Gradually, I will post up links at this site to files of data resources that you can download for your own research.  I am not going to put all these kinds of data into individual posts as that will make them far too long and boring.

Personally, I think that Adobe Acrobat pdf files are a good way of providing data, but not everyone agrees with me.  Some people, for instance, might prefer webpages of data in html format.  I am open to comments or suggestions on this so please let me know if you have an opinion.  And to help you form one, here is my first link to a data resource: Derbyshire RENSHAW WILLS (Abstracts)

This pdf file contains abstracts of all the RENSHAW Wills I have been able to locate at Lichfield Record Office.  On visits over several years, I collected details of the Wills from the handwritten calendars at LRO then photographed them all.  I transcribed them at home and now I’ve produced short abstracts from the transcripts.  There are RENSHAW Wills from other parts of Lichfield Diocese (Staffordshire and parts of Cheshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire) but I’ve started with the most numerous Derbyshire Wills.

Finding Wills is always difficult.  In England and Wales before 1858 (when probate became a civil matter rather than a religious one), there were complicated rules about which type of religious court must be used to prove any particular Will, and the courts were part of Church of England dioceses whose boundaries did not match the counties of the time.  It can be a nightmare to find the right path through the probate woods, so I thought RENSHAW-hunters might enjoy a short cut to Derbyshire Wills.  Since the parish registers (PRs) and bishop’s transcripts (BTs) for many of the county’s parishes only start in the 1650s or later, earlier ones having been destroyed during the Civil War, early Wills can often be the only way to work out family relationships.

Try out the link and the file and let me know if you like the format or would prefer a different approach.


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