Wills are probably the best source of family history information, usually providing records of people's family connections, land ownership and sometimes even inventories of their homes:- Probate records generally consist of three main types: wills, either original or registered copies; inventories of the testator's goods and chattels, often listed room by room; and administration bonds which were guarantees of fair dealing, given by those who were charged with administering the estates of people who died without leaving a will.
In England, from at least the early 13th century until the Court of Probate Act, 1857, jurisdiction in wills and testamentary matters was held by the church.
Until 1540 the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield included Cheshire, Derbyshire, South Lancashire, North Shropshire, Staffordshire, North Warwickshire and small parts of Flintshire and Denbighshire.
In 1540 Cheshire, South Lancashire and the Welsh parishes were lost and the name of the diocese changed to Lichfield and Coventry. Its records are held at the Lichfield Record Office, ranging in date from the late thirteenth century to the present day and include a series of bishops' registers beginning in 1296, court books, visitation records, wills and tithe maps (for Staffordshire and Northern Shropshire). Descriptions of types of records held at the various Staffordshire records offices are available On-line but no details of the actual wills and documents stored at the Lichfield record office. A list of the Tomkinson wills and administration documents held at the Lichfield record office has been generated.
From the establishment of the diocese of Chester in 1541 until 12 January 1858, jurisdiction was held by the consistory court of Chester for the Archdeaconry of Chester, with the exception of the period from 1650 to 1660 when a national civil court was established. [The wills proved in the latter court are filed with the Prerogative Court of Canterbury series at the Public Record Office and are indexed by the Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society]. The archdeaconry of Chester originally included south Lancashire as well as Cheshire and some Welsh parishes: when the probate records were divided in 1949, wills relating to Welsh parishes went to the National Library of Wales , and those relating to Lancashire (in its pre-1974 boundaries) were deposited in the Lancashire Record Office
Chester records office holds online searchable lists of wills in its records, and copies may be ordered online.
When Searching this database in Sept 2003, 78 Cheshire Tomkinson Wills were found.
The following Wills have been transcribed and may be downloaded:-
Similar input required from other researchers for other counties, American, Australian and other sources - Volunteers please ! - Please email me at: email@example.com
Rob Tomkinson October 2003