Yesterday I was reading about the new Find A Will online service which replaces the old Probate Office in Holborn. I visited the old place a few times and enjoyed looking through their old record books, finding relevant records and ordering copies to take home and add to my own records.
I’ve been meaning to go back for a while so was pretty pleased to hear about the new online service which I tried out this evening.
The service is still in beta and has a surprisingly basic search – just surname and date. You can search for Wills and Probate 1996 to present, Wills and Probate 1858 – 1996 and Soldier’s Wills.
If there are any results you can look at the original page which features a short summary – name, amount of estate, enough information to help you identify them as the person you are looking for and the name of the Executor. You can also look at the entries either side of your result as well as the previous or next year.
I’ve only spent about an hour using the site but so far found 1 result for George Caswell, a distant relative through my paternal great-grandfather. I’m tempted to order a copy of the Will even though I already know he left his estate, which was under £800, to his only daughter Selina Cleopatra Anne Caswell.
A trip to Portsmouth in 2005. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to blog about these photographs. I suppose with the advent of google maps you can look up addresses in the comfort of your own home but I think it’s better to get out and about if you can.
121 Bath Road, Southsea was the home of George and Eleanor Benger when they registered the birth of their daughter Viola (my paternal grandmother) in 1905.
They later moved to 98 St Augustine’s Road, Southsea according to the 1911 census.
St Mary’s Church, Portsea – where George Caswell married Louisa Leigh on 15th December 1834.
Address of Mansel and Kate Young and their two children Alfred and Henry (my paternal grandfather) at the time of the 1901 census – 2 Woodland Cottage, Woodland St, Portsmouth.
On the 6th day of December 1875, Letters of Administration, with the Will annexed, of the personal Estate of George Caswell late of Upcross South Stoneham in the County of Southampton a retired Captain in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy deceased, who died on the 7th day of October 1875 at Upcross aforesaid were granted at the Principal Registry of the Probate Division of the High Court of Justice to Selina Cleopatra Anne Caswell of Upcross aforesaid Spinster the Daughter of the said Deceased the residuary Legatee named in the said Will, she having been first sworn duly to administer. Duncan Pringle Burnett the sole Executor named in the said Will having died in the lifetime of the said deceased.
I have a feeling that Wills are really useful. A couple of years ago I spent some time at The London Probate Registry looking up a list of relatives to see if they had left a Will. It was a really interesting experience but I had a really small success rate. I’ve also spent some time using TNA’s online pre-1858 records catalogue, where I’ve had the same success rate. I’m not sure if I’ve been searching correctly or more likely, my relatives didn’t have money or property to leave. Either way I thought I would transcribe a few of the Wills I have as they are pretty useless in their original state. It’s taken a while as the handwriting is terrible!
In the Name of God, Amen.
I, George Caswell, Commander in the Royal Navy, being in bodily health and of sound and disposing mind and in xxx and xxx the perils and dangers of the seas and other uncertainties of this transitory life do, for xxx xxx after my xxx xxx publish and xxx, this my last will and testament in manner following, that is to say, First I recommend my Soul to God that gave it and my body I commit to the Earth or Sea as it shall please God to xxx and as for any xxx all my worldly estate I give bequeath and dispose thereof as followeth that is to say after payment of my just debts funeral x x x testamentary expenses all such wages sum and sums of money, lands, tenements, goods, chattels and estate whatsoever as shall be xxx but owing or belonging unto me at the time of my decease & to give xxx and bequeath the same unto my dear daughter Selina Cleopatra Anne Caswell and I do hereby nominate and appoint Mr xxx Pringle Burnett of Surrey Street, Strand, London, Navy Agent, Executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former and other wills testaments and deeds of gifts by me at any time herefore made and I do ordain and ratify those present to stand and be for and as my only last will and testament xxx witness whatof to this my said will – I have set my hand and seal, the eighteenth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty and in the xxx twenty fourth year of the reign of Our Sovereign Lady Victoria by the Glory of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen Defender of the Faith and so forth – George Caswell x Signed sealed published and declared by the testator the said George Caswell in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other have submitted our names as witnesses – W. B. Pike Geo. Nye
On the 6th December 1875 xxx with the Will annexed of the personal estate of George Caswell late of Upton South Stoneham in the County of Southampton, retired Captain in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy deceased who died 7th October 1874 at xxx aforesaid was granted to Selina Cleopatra Anne Caswell, Spinster, the daughter the xxx legatee xxx having been first sworn xxx Pringle Burnett the sole Executor named the said Will having died in the lifetime of the testator.
Some times the internet scares me. I was having an idle google of some of my family names and found a search result for Selina Cleopatra Ann Caswell. This lady had an unusual name so always sticks in my mind. Her father was a Captain in the Royal Navy and the last ship he had served on was the Cleopatra around the time his only daughter was born, hence the name.
I will add a separate post about the details of her life but I must post the results of today’s search:
From: Paul Cutmore Subject: Shalfleet Registers Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 01:00 +0100 (BST) I was recently poring over a microfilm of the Shalfleet Registers when
unusually I came across a letter. It starts:
"Sir, Will you kindly tell me the fees for searching your register of
baptism in your parish?"
So I immediately thought that here was someone involved in Family History
The letter was written on 2 Nov 1886 by Miss Selina Cleopatra Ann CASWELL
in Bitterne?, Southampton. It carries on:
"I fancy the register of baptism of my Grandfather the late Commander
Benjamin LEIGH, R.N. may be found in your church as Bouldner is in the
Parish of Shalfleet. He was the 2nd son of Benjamin LEIGH Esq. of Thorley,
by his 2nd wife Miss DRAPER. The register of Thorley has been searched
unsuccessfully. My grandfather died in the month of February 1846, age 74
which would give for date of birth 1772".
Funnily enough I tentatively have Benjamin LEIGH b. 1773 Shalfleet in my
family tree, although I have his father's (Benjamin) second wife as Sarah
Ring any bells for anybody?
I wonder if Rootsweb will preserve this message for 100+ years!
Paul Cutmore in Cambridge
Not only is this my relative but it seems she was researching her own family tree when she was in her 40s. She never married and I couldn’t find any Will so I wonder what happened to her research.
I haven’t had much time for any family history research lately. It’s going to be a hobby which I dip in and out of when I have time.
I thought I would use this blog to make a note of queries I have, perhaps someone will read and be able to help 🙂
What do you do when you would like to trace an old address? I have relatives living on the Isle of Wight according to the 1841 census and I would love to try and trace the house they were living in.
In 1841 George Caswell was recorded as living at Hawthorn Cottage, Northwood, Isle of Wight, Hampshire. I’m from the Isle of Wight so I often think about tracking down this property. Last time we visited we even went to Cowes/Northwood and it was so frustrating to be in the area and not know where this property was. I admit I was on my iPhone googling like mad but unable to find anything.
The 1841 census was brief but it shows that Hawthorn Cottage was in the Parish of Northwood and surrounded by Mill Hill, Ivy Cottage, Three Gates and Broadfields.
The occupants of the house were
George Caswell, age 40 profession Navy
Louisa Ann Caswell, age 25
Benjamin Leigh, age 70, profession Navy
Elizabeth Leigh, age 60
Henry Leigh, age 20
Selina E C Mansel, age 13
Anne Delicate (sp?), age 20, house servant?
I’ve just looked on google maps and Mill Hill still exists so perhaps it’s just a case of driving down the road looking to see if any houses have their original names on them? We’ve done this before and were lucky – which I must write about another time.
Alternatively I could go to the Record Office but I feel they must be too busy to answer this kind of enquiry.
Welcome to my family history blog about my Benger, Hacker, Kearney, Mansel, Winchombe and Young relatives. To view my family tree click on the family tree tab at the top. You can contact me jenny[at]kearney.co.uk