A selection of Post 1858 Wills
Before 1858 Wills and Administrations were handled by the Established Church, but from that year the government "nationalised" the process. The Family Division of the High Court of Justice maintains extremely comprehensive records of all probated documents, and this includes enormous "Calendars" of all Wills and Administrations since 1858 (a calendar is an index for one year). These are held in the various Probate offices around the country, although the only full set for all districts and all years is in London offices in High Holborn.
A few years ago, I spent a day there, and trawled through all the calendars from 1858 to 1980 - 123 books in about 6 hours, to find 106 O*T*RIDGE entries. The amazing thing is that once a will has been probated it is totally in the public domain, the calendars go right up to the previous year, and there is no protection of privacy of the beneficiaries. Anyone can apply for a copy of a will or administration, so if your next-door-neighbour died last year you could find out how much they left and to whom !! Compare this with the fact that the 10-yearly census is regarded as a state secret for 100 years !!
I have extracted some of the actual wills and administrations, at £5 each, and this article reproduces some of those wills.
In the 19th Century wills were still handwritten, and here is shown the will of Elizabeth OTRIDGE, who was a spinster of London. She is the last survivor of the "W Otridge & Sons" publishing family, that I have not been able to link in anywhere yet.
Her executors were 3 male friends:
I hereby nominate my friends the Reverend John Leechman Master of Arts if he shall be in England at the time of my decease or within out month thereafter Mathias Mundy Earthenware Dealer and John Betts Surgeon all of Hammersmith aforesaid Executors of this my Will
She left a few token gifts to them and others, but most of her legacy was in charitable giving:
Baptist Mission ten pounds; Aged Pilgrims Society ten pounds; Baptist Bible Society five pounds; Baptist Missionary Society £50; Baptist Irish Society fifty pounds
The Missionary Society and the Baptist Irish Society benefited further with a share of whatever was left in the hotchpot at the end. The will ends with:
In witness whereof I the said Elizabeth Otridge the Testatrix have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of February One thousand Eight hundred and fifty nine
Charles OATRIDGE of Porth in Glamorgan died in 1928. His will was a mixture of domestic goods and property. On the domestic front, his typewritten will read:
I give and bequeath unto my son Eli my presentation watch my gold Albert Chain my Albert Medal the picture of the Rescuers at Tynewydd Colliery and all my books I give and bequeath unto my granddaughter Annie May Oatridge my fancy chair in the parlour I give and bequeath unto my son Llewellyn Edward the suite of five chairs in the middle kitchen I give and bequeath unto my son Ivor my safe but not the contents thereof..........
He had been awarded the Albert Medal for his daring part in a mine rescue in 1877 of which he was justly proud. Do any of his descendants still possess that medal ? He entrusted son Eli with the medal, but not Ivor with the contents of the safe ! He was also a man of property, the will bequeathing the following properties:
Numbers 8,9 and 10 Phillips Terrace Trehafod unto my son Charles ..... Numbers 3,4,5,and 6 Trehafod Road Trehafod unto my son ldris .....Number 23 Trehefod Road Trehafod Number 25 Eirw Road Britannia Porth and Numbers 23 and 24 Cymmer Road Porth unto my son Llewellyn Edward ...... Number 116 Brithweunydd Road Trelaw and numbers 47,49 and 50 Edid Street Trealaw unto my son Ivor ....... Number 56 Graigwen Road Cymmer Porth Number 12 York Terrace Porth and Numbers 23 and 24 The Parade Porth unto my son Eli.
I count 19 houses in all - and the gross value of his will ? £3085 5s 0d !
By contrast, William OTRIDGE of London, was a bookseller descended from a family based in Godmanchester, Huntingdon (a pure coincidence the town where I now live) - I have not found out how his forbears got there yet either. He bequeathed property in Middlesex as follows:
Fifthly, I devise and bequeath to my daughters Alice and Edith Otridge and Mrs Clara Maishman all my property in leasehold No 3,4,5,6,7 Homefield Cottages, British Grove Chiswick No 48,50 Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith and No 32 Angel Road Hammersmith all in the County of Middlesex to have and to hold or sell as may be agreed upon by them and the executors.
His will was valued at £4500 in 1887 for just 9 properties showing that differentials in property values between London and industrial areas was just as big then as is now.
William Henry OATRIDGE of Kent died in 1920. His fairly substantial will was fairly divided between his wife and 4 of his 5 surviving children, but one child had incurred his wrath:
Upon Trust to pay the income to my wife during her widowhood and after the death or remarriage of my Wife which first happens upon Trust in equal shares for all or any my children or child (except my daughter Hilda Edith Mary Oatridge my reason being that she has not for some considerable time and will not reside with her parents) .......
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