HH Project Update on 16th Century Hampshire Wills

HH Projects kicks-off with 1st stage data for 16th Century Hampshire

The first steps for this project are now available via the Projects pages  .We are taking a look at early records of Hampshire and needed a manageable sample of data that we could research and curate and identified this set for starters. It is a selection of the Wills of the 16th Century which are in the National Archive Catalogue. The majority are available as scans of the originals at the Hampshire Archives for individual study. Our starting point is the summary,  surnames, year , place of residence and occupation of the individuals for which wills survive. This of course may not have been all the wills written in Hampshire, it is however the collection that we have been able to identify that were written in Hampshire.

Data Online and Next Steps of our Tudor Hampshire endeavours

We have built on our own surname interests and One Name Studies, which coincidentally, have a high concentration in Hampshire.  We are investigating what will happen if we build a library of data that, by using a variety of IT tools and techniques will allow us to carve up the data and see what value, if any, we can derive from the outputs. The first step is a straight-forward table but we will look to layer multiple centuries of similar data , map and timeline it, as soon as possible.

Here is the link to the Project Page (16th Century data and more), early days but we thought it would be nice to start sharing as soon as possible.

Wills provide a unique insight into an individual’s life

The question for this small project is what do they tell us as a collection of data?

The detail of the Wills is beyond our reasonable scope at the moment but if you have an interest or any knowledge to share that you think will help us, then please do get in contact. Wills can reveal surprisingly intimate details of your own kith and kin and reveal surprising connections. When you read across a wider sample of individuals, a broader social context can be explored.  Of course not everybody wrote wills, anymore than they do now and it implies some status if they were written.  From the initial sample we want to find out where there are clusters of wills, whether Will writing relates to areas of particular economic success and what other patterns we might observe and interpret.

This collection of Tudor Wills from The National Archive provides a great set of data for C16th Hampshire wills 1500 – 1599.

Wills do survive from Anglo Saxon times, the will of King Alfred the Great still exists but most early wills that are still around date from the C16th. These early written documents were usually drafted during the last days of life, information gathered at the deathbed and written down by a lawyer or a priest. Some though were set down in written form much earlier in an individual’s life and codicils were added over the years.  Only a small number of people left a will and those were males and unmarried or widowed women. Until 1882, married women could not make a will without their husband’s permission and the poor simply didn’t have enough to bother leaving.

Famous Wills and Hampshire Connections

There are some interest famous Wills at the National archive, here is one available free of charge, by a lady much loved within the county and beyond, the very intriguing Jane Austen, click here to see the National Archives copy of the will as a PDF (Acrobat file). And then just at the turn of the next century but certainly contemporary to the wills we have included is one William Shakespeare, what an amazing document to actually be able o look at. Yes it is digital but much better than it just being stowed away deep in the archives. And here it is William Shakespeare’s Will dated  25 March 1616, less than a month before he died. Quite a thought isn’t it.

Anyway back to our humble set of data and getting on with the next steps. Hope you enjoy the data. it is obviously our own transcribing of various records, so any errors are our own and not those of the TNA. But it is at least the start of an interesting winter project.

What information is in the C16th Hampshire Wills data set?

There are over 800 surnames for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The date the will was made and the place with which it is associated is also recorded. In many cases the occupation or the position e.g widow or knight, of the testator is also included.