All Hope is not Lost! #WhyDevonResearchIsSoHard

I went to the Dallas Public Library to see what they had on Devon. I’ve seen notes in Ian’s papers that point to records that aren’t contained in the National Archives or 2 Devon Registry offices. I wanted to find more out about where those might have come from.

Additionally, I had come across a group by the name of the Devon & Cornwall Record Society. The library had the first 49 volume produced by this organization, and I wanted to inspect them for additional clues. I found more than 150 total entries to follow up on in the 3 hours I was there. However, it was one of the last books that I came across that I found most engrossing AND depressing.

It is a series that was put out in 1908 by The British Record Society, Limited. In volume 35 they cover the Wills and Administrations relating to Devon and Cornwall (which was initially part of Devon before becoming its own county). The series documents that the following records were in the possession of the Exeter from 1559-1799.

Wills & Administrations of Devon & Cornwall Proved in the Court of Principal Registry of the Bishop of Exeter 1559-1799

Wills & Administrations of Devon Proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Exeter

Number refers to the folio in the volumes containing the transcripts of these wills.
a=administration; t=testament; m=missing; c=copy
Note: The highlighted area is the result of a blurry photo. I’ll need to retake the picture to decode the info.

Not finding the Records of the Consistory Court of Exeter, I came home and did some more research, where I located that information as well.

I found a book that indexes the records held in the Consistory Court and came up with this list. Ian Babb had recorded abstracts of a number of these records. This is what drew me in to locate the source of the info. Ian’s abstracts are mentioned in Green.

Looking through these lists I’ve been incensed by the needless destruction of the records. Just days ago I had thought that no record of what was in the Registry when it was bombed had been recorded.

I came to find out that it had, and it left a really bad taste in my mouth.

A New Hope

So, tonight I searched, and I searched and somehow, I came across a book that only appears to exist in one place in the world. Where is that? It’s in Salt Lake City, of course!

While not everything was transcribed, the book is typed from the abstract manuscripts made by the late Olive M. Moger at the Exeter Probate Registry, prior to the destruction of the originals during WWII. The collection consists of 44 volumes, so Olive was quite busy and is the real heroine for most if not all of the stories we are able to tell from those days.

Our records pertain to a single volume #2)

I’ve put in a request for electronic copies of the pages through the Family History Library. Their confirmation form mentions a 1-2 week turn around. So, keep your fingers crossed!


I’ve also found mention of two similar books that are located in the two Devon Repositories in Exeter and Plymouth. They are, at the very least, based on the same original material. One of the two Devon repositories appears to have created text abstracts of this work and that information is already incorporated into their online index. As I’ve already incorporated everything listed in their index into the tree there may be nothing more to discover. But abstracts aren’t Wills and Estate documents. The full text, if available will offer additional insight not available in the abstracts.

Stay tuned!

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