Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Files and Bundles of Administration Bonds from 1714
Bonds from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury entered into by administrators and administrators with will annexed. They supply the place of residence of administrators and administrators with will annexed, and the names and places of residence of their sureties. They also supply an approximate valuation of the intestate's or testator's personal estate.
The bonds also bear the signatures (or marks of authentication) of the administrators and of the sureties, and their personal seals.
When administrators with will annexed were sworn by commission the commissions authorising the commissioners to administer the oath were printed on the same membrane or paper as the bonds, and these records are to be found found in this series.
Also contains some commissions to swear executors for 1786 to 1795 and for January 1858 and these are usually bundled with the administration bonds, though they occasionally form separate bundles.
The amount that the bond was for is generally assumed to have been twice the initial approximate valuation of the personal estate. However a comparison of a small sample of bonds with the initial valuations given in the corresponding administration act book, and a study of revaluation orders, makes it clear that while bond penalties exceeded the amount of the initial valuation, they were not always equal to twice the initial valuation of the personal estate. As evidence of the valuation of an intestate's or testator's personal estate bonds are therefore an imprecise measure, and where other sources such as inventories, executors' and administrators' accounts, and death duty registers, are extant they should be preferred. If an estate was revalued, a not uncommon occurrence in the nineteenth century, the administrator would be required to enter into a second bond. The second bond would then be filed with the original one.
The bonds survive with very few losses. Until 1773 the bonds were written or printed on parchment, and the court copies are preserved in files. Subsequently they were printed on paper, and the court copies were preserved in bundles.
The arrangement of the files and bundles dated 1719 to 1858 in PROB 46 is as follows:
- 1719-1795 (PROB 46/7-466): There are five files or bundles of administration bonds for each month, with one file or bundle for each seat of the Court.
- 1796-1800 (PROB 46/467-506): The administration bonds in these pieces are not in separate bundles, but in one large bundle for each month, undifferentiated in relation to seat. From 1796 the bonds for grants of administration with will annexed, and administration with will annexed de bonis non administratis are to be found in a separate bundle for each month, which in many cases is divided into five sub-bundles according to seat.
- 1801-1858 (PROB 46/507-1095): There are usually five bundles of administration bonds for each month, one for each seat, as was the case before 1796. The bonds for grants of administration with will annexed, and administration with will annexed de bonis non administratis, form a sixth bundle, composed of five sub-bundles for virtually every month.
When the administrator was sworn not by an official of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, but by commissioners appointed for the purpose, the commission to swear the administrator and the court copy of the bond were printed on a single membrane or piece of paper, and filed together with the other bonds.
In order to find the bond relating to a particular individual after 1718 it is necessary to ascertain the month in which administration was granted and the seat at which the grant passed. Each piece in PROB 46 consists of the extant files or bundles of one or more months.
The files and bundles in PROB 46/158-1095 are labelled by seat and month. The file or bundle for the registrar's seat is often the largest. The first bonds in a file or bundle may bear the date of a day at the end of the previous month (this is because bonds were entered into before letters of administration were issued, and the bonds are filed by the month of the issue of the letters, and not by the date of the bond itself). Bonds before 1752 are listed according to new style dating. A file of bonds dated January 1744/5, for example, appears in the list under January 1745.
It is possible to identify the month of the grant from the calendars in PROB 12, PROB 13, and PROB 15, and from the indexes derived from the calendars. In most cases it is possible to identify the seat responsible from the same sources. The calendars identify the counties of residence of the testators and intestates and therefore usually allow the seat to be identified.
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- PROB Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
- Wills and Letters of Administration
- PROB 46 Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Files and Bundles of Administration Bonds from 1714