probate accounts

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About 30 000 probate accounts survive in various record offices, but they have not received the attention they deserve. See Clare Gittings, ‘Probate Accounts: A Neglected Source’, Local Historian, 21/2 (1991), and Peter Spufford, Matthew Brett, and Amy Louise Erickson (eds), Index to the Probate Accounts of England and Wales (2 vols, British Record Society, 1999). A year or so after the death of a testator, accounts of the estate were submitted to an ecclesiastical court by an executrix or executor, or by the person who had received letters of administration in cases of intestacy. By that time, an inventory of the personal estate had been drawn up, debts had been paid, and expenses were known, leaving the residue to be divided according to the terms of the will or the wishes of the administratrix. Nearly three‐quarters of all probate accounts were filed by women. These records therefore provide unique information on women's experience in handling property and the history of property relations between men and women. See Amy Louise Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England (1993).

Subjects: History.

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