Catalogue description Supplementary Wills, Series II

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Date range

Details of PROB 21
Reference: PROB 21
Title: Supplementary Wills, Series II

Prerogative Court of Canterbury copies of wills, made when the original was to be removed from the registry for exhibition in another court of law.

Also journey affidavits setting out the reasons why the original document was required.

Date: 1623-1857

Where a copy will and affidavit were both found, only the affidavit has been put into PROB 21, and the text of the will should be sought in the register: PROB 11

Where the copy will was not accompanied by an affidavit but had a note of the date of transmission of the original from the registry, it has been retained, and filed in this series under the date of transmission.

From 1804 a numbered sequence of journey affidavits was instituted by the registrars.

From about 1786 the journey affidavits often included a second sheet setting out the costs of producing copies and of messengers attending with the originals at various courts throughout the country, though there is some indication that in cases of especial urgency wills were entrusted to the postal service.

Related material:

See PCC will registers in PROB 11

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 74 bundle(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

When it was necessary to remove an original will from the registry of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, for example to show it to witnesses being examined as to its authenticity, in that or any other court of law (notably Chancery or the local Assizes), the registrars of the PCC often made a verbatim transcript, presumably to keep in the place of the original until its safe return, and took bonds for this purpose from those removing the will.

From at least the early 18th century, the party applying for the renewal of the original document appeared before the court with an affidavit swearing that there was a genuine need to produce the will for a specified purpose. If his petition was successful, an Act of Court authorised the transmission of the document upon a sufficient security, and the affidavit, known as a journey affidavit or affidavit of attendance, was kept by the registrar, sometimes annexed to the copy will or other related documents such as a copy of the act of court authorising transmission, the bond for return of the original will, or the sureties for the bonded person.

The earliest surviving journey affidavit is dated 1707, after which date they become increasingly common.

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