Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Find Lost Colonial Wills

Many counties from the original thirteen colonies suffered court house fires and the loss of records. Before the American Revolution, colonists had vested interests in British affairs. For one thing, planters imported and exported goods abroad and did business with English factoring houses such as the London Company. Their friends and relatives were still in the British Isles and they still owned property in Great Britain. These properties, relatives and friends were frequently mentioned in our American colonial last wills and testaments. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to search for a recorded copy their wills and estates in English records, such as Chancery and Church Records. The first step is to find them in the English parish registers. This is where christenings were performed and detailed records of births, deaths and marriages are kept. Once you know the county or shire where they were born, then the task remains to search through local parish registers. Family History Centers (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) have catalogs of such parish registers and you can order the microfilm. Once you begin to search through these records, you will notice a significent change in the script. Such eloquence disappeared on the American frontier during the 18th century. Also, a good Latin dictionary would be helpful.

Jeannette Holland Austin, author of over 100 genealogy books
Virginia Pioneers

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