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29 May 2010

I believe in free wills

In double-quick time I got nearly 100 transcripts of wills proven between 1858 and 1925.

These were obtained *for free* at London LDS family history centre, 20 on the afternoon of Tuesday 11 August 2009.  Who says you have to pay for family history – this would have been £90 in wills had I bought them (which I never would).

It’s amusing that the biggest leads came from the references to ‘Jane Williams’ and ‘Mary Price’.  Ok Mary had a massive telltale middlename of ‘Orledge’ which made it impossible *not* to find her.

(Curiously there is an 'Ordnance connection' - Jane's sons-in-law worked for Ordnance Survey in Southampton.  Mary lived in Ordnance Road, Enfield Wash.)

Jane Williams was a bit less of a cheat.  I knew from the context that this Jane must have been born a Hambly in Gwinear, Cornwall, 1826 so using some of this information helped me find her marriage in freebmd (Jane to  Samuel Williams, 1847 Cornwall) and this led me to find her in the 1861 census (Jane Williams born about 1826 Gwinear, wife of Samuel) and then with the family details listed to find her in the 1881 census where she is just Jane Williams born about 1826 ‘in Cornwall’.  But there are very few Williamses in Hampshire, and fewer Cornish ones, so I was actually able to find not only Jane but all bar one of her children's marriages (to William Tawse, John White, Betty Stoneley, Richard Jones, Rosa Burden, Charles Morris, Frederick Lewington).

Mary Price's own helpful will gives the full names of her seven children which again made misidentification really tricky – particularly as there just weren’t many Welsh Prices still less English ones in English Enfield Lock.

I wrote a little program to help people find wills like how I did - http://haine.org.uk/wills/willsearch.php

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