Family Tree UK

Getting to grips with WILLS (for England & Wales)


As we begin 2021, the Family Tree Academy will be there to help you grow your genealogy skills.

As ever, the aim will continue to be to help teach more about the search skills and source know-how needed to step up your family history research.

In this issue, Family Tree Academy tutor David Annal discusses wills and their usefulness for research in England and Wales.

Working with wills

Wills are a family historian’s dream, providing a snapshot of a family at a particular moment in time. Together with a whole host of closely-associated, interlinked probate records, they represent an essential tool in our genealogical workshop.

What details will you find in wills?

The documents are packed full of names; beneficiaries, executors, overseers and witnesses.

These are the names of our ancestors’ wives or husbands, children, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, as well as their friends and neighbours.

TIP! Watch out for the terminology

When it comes to more distant relatives we need to be a bit careful. The

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