Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Warrants
Warrants used to authorise the issue of either a common form grant of administration, or a grant of probate and a commission or requisition to swear an executor, where the executor was unable to come to the Prerogative Court of Canterbury to swear the oath. The principal item of information in warrants, which is not generally to be found in other Prerogative Court of Canterbury records, is the date of death of the testator or intestate.
The warrant states that the aspirant administrator, or a proctor acting for the aspirant administrator or for an executor, appeared, and sought either a grant of administration, or a grant of probate and a commission to swear an executor.
A surrogate of the judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wrote a fiat on the foot of the warrant authorising the issue of the grant of administration or the issue of the grant of probate and the commission. Where the administrator was a Quaker the warrant will bear the administrator's signature, as from 1696 Quakers were allowed to make solemn declarations rather than swear oaths.
The dates of death of testators are given on warrants regularly only from the mid eighteenth century. Where the testator's or intestate's estate was too small for the executor or administrator to be charged fees this fact is noted at the foot of the warrant, generally by the use of the term pauper.
In order to find a warrant relating to a particular grant of administration it is necessary to ascertain the day and the month of the grant of administration from the administration act books in PROB 6 and PROB 7
Warrants for grants of administration usually bear the same date as the grant itself, and warrants are bound in approximate chronological order.
Warrants relating to grants of probate should be approached via probate acts. Probate acts are appended to the texts of registered wills in PROB 11, and recorded in the probate act books in PROB 8 and PROB 9. If the probate act says that the executor was sworn by commission then there should be a warrant relating to the grant in this series.
The probate act will also furnish the day and month of the grant of probate. However the date of a warrant for a grant of probate and a commission to swear an executor may precede the actual date of probate by several months, as the grant of probate could not be issued until after the duly executed commission had been returned to the Court.
From 1680 the warrants are bound up in volumes covering two or more months.
The date ranges in the list relate to the majority of warrants in the piece, but some warrants falling outside these dates are frequently found.
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