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Published by the Camden Society in 1850 and edited by the treasurer and secretary to the Bury and West Suffolk Archaeological Institute, Samuel Tymms, the "Wills and Inventories from the Registers of the Commissary of Bury St. Edmund's and the Archdeacon of Sudbury", is a fascinating collection of wills and inventories that span nearly 300 years, the first being made in 1370 and the last in 1650.
The town of Bury St. Edmund's held a unique position outside of normal ecclesiastical edicts and remits and was exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Norwich in whose diocese the town was situated. Instead of wills being proved at the ecclesiastical court of Norwich, wills of the towns people of Bury St, Edmund's were proved before the Sacrist of the Monastery of St Edmund until the dissolution and surrender of the religious houses under the Act of 31 Henry VIII. Although now subject to the Bishop the town remained outside of the jurisdiction of the Archdeacon whose authority was deputed to the Commissary whose court proved Bury St. Edmund's wills until 1844.
Wills proved before the Sacrist are recorded in the registers of the Commissary and of the Archdeacon of Bury St. Edmund's and cover the periods 1354-1566, 'country wills' proved at the Court of the Archdeacon cover the periods 1439-1569 and those of the residents of Bury in the registers for the Archdeaconry for the periods 1570-1652. It is from these registers that the Samuel Tymms extracted the wills and inventories summarised in this republication.
The Wills and inventories present in this volume of some 300 printed pages are drawn from testators from all walks of life and were intended to illustrate the peculiarities of customs and language for the periods in question rather than reasons of topography or genealogy, although of course by their very nature the wills in particular fulfil this function. This aspect of the Bury Wills & Inventories is augmented by some forty pages of notes and annotations many providing genealogical and family information on the testators and others mentioned therein.
Bury Wills & Inventories begins with the will of Ada de Stanton made in 1370 and is concluded with the will of Robert Bacon of Redgrave, Esq., was made on 30th May 1650 and proved on 30th September 1650. The earliest wills are recorded in a peculiar mixture of Latin and English before passing into more or less recognisable English towards the middle of he 16th century. The occupations of the testators vary greatly ranging from gentlemen and others of higher rank to grocers, merchants and blacksmiths.
Republished here in fully-searchable digital format this republication includes a full index of personal names and places as well as an index of miscellany mainly of items named in the inventories such as bed, jewels and even in one instance, a frying pan, from the wills and inventories of people from the towns, parishes and deaneries in the Archdeaconry of Sudbury.
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