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I have the following entry from the National Probate calendar and would like to find the will:

ELLIOTT Augusta of The Myrtles Slapton near Kingsbridge Devonshire widow died 17 April 1947 Probate London 27 September to Caroline Louisa White spinster. Effects £6696 8s. 4d.

Herber's Ancestral Trails (second revised edition, 2004) says that the LDS has microfilm of PPR wills from 1858-1925, which is not the right period for Augusta's will.

If I'm reading Herber correctly (p. 217) the valuations post-1898 include real estate unless it was settled elsewhere. Notices were published in the Glocestershire Echo (6 Oct 1947) and the Cheltenham Chronicle (11 Oct 1947) which give the value of her estate as "£6,696 gross, with net personalty £6,347." This figure may include the value of, or the proceeds from, real estate. There are several notices about the auction of "Myrtle Cottage" in the Western Morning News, between 1 Mar 1947 and 13 June 1947, when the sale is reported as having been on the previous Wednesday: "The Myrtles, Slapton, for £2.700 to Maj. A. F. Spooner, of Torquay". However, it seems odd that a sale, even when arranged for before her death, would be put through before probate was complete.

I'm assuming that unlike many of the other Devon wills I'm interested in, this one may still exist because 1) it was probated in London and 2) it went through probate in 1947, after the bombing of the Exeter Probate Registry.

Older reference works direct me to the National Archives' Documents Online service which is now closed.

Their page Looking for records of a will or administration after 1858 says to request copies of wills and administrations from the Probate Service, but the link goes to a beta and very generic web page that only has phone and email contacts for the court, with no information about ordering documents.

I'm also assuming that it's not likely there are draft copies at the Devon Heritage Centre. Their page Locating Devon Wills and Administrations says:

There is a card index in the Devon Heritage Centre to wills and administrations found in catalogued collections held there. This index, which was added to up to about 2002, lists only the name and date and sometimes the parish of residence of the person for whom the will exists. It also indexes wills found in the Exeter City Archives collection held at this office - including Mayor's Court and Orphan' Court wills.

This card index is being added to the webpage of the Genuki Devon Wills Project, and therefore most of the card index entries are now searchable on-line.

I've searched the Devon Wills project at GENUKI and there are no entries, either for Augusta or for her husband Charles (who died in 1919). His will was proved in Exeter so was probably destroyed:

ELLIOTT Charles Edward George of The Myrtles Slapton Devonshire gentleman died 13 September 1911 Probate Exeter 28 January to Augusta Elliott widow. Effects £631 13s. 11d.

Has anyone ordered copies of wills since Documents Online was closed? I can email the PPR but I'd be very surprised if a copy of a will is available for anything near the price of £5 that was in effect at the time of Herber's second edition of Ancestral Trails or the £6 that was quoted when Documents Online was open.


Results from the National Archives' Currency Converter:

Charles' estate --

  • In 1915, £631 13s 11d would have the same spending worth of 2005's £27,200.82
  • In 1920, £631 13s 11d would have the same spending worth of 2005's £13,398.27

Augusta's estate:

  • In 1945, £6,696 8s 4d would have the same spending worth of 2005's £173,772.01
  • In 1950, £6,696 8s 4d would have the same spending worth of 2005's £152,544.37

The big question: how did Augusta increase her wealth (as defined by spending worth) by an order of magnitude between 1919 and 1947? The will probably won't have any clues, but I'd still be interested in seeing what it says.

(I'm assuming the Archives' calculator takes into effect the devaluation of the pound in 1949, which is discussed in this related question on History.SE, What factors led to the 30% devaluation of pound sterling in 1949?)

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    Devaluation doesn't matter for calculating the current value of amounts of money in the past in the same currency. It would only matter if you were trying to convert pounds to US dollars or some other foreign currency. A better converter for past money amounts into current values for the UK is at the Bank of England. – Verbeia Jul 17 '14 at 10:48
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You now need to apply to Leeds for a probate search post-1857.


The Probate Service launched a new search and ordering system in December 2014. See New post-1858 wills service launches online from WDYTYA magazine.

The Probate Service has launched an online wills index for England and Wales, enabling people to search for any will dating from 1858-1996 and order a digital copy via their computer.

Searchable by name within specific years, the index links to a digitised version of the National Probate Calendar, showing all matching entries from the appropriate volume.

Once the correct person has been found – indicated by details such as address and court where the will was proved – researchers can then ‘click through’ and order a digital copy at a cost of £10 each. The document will then be made available as a download, generally within 10 working days.

Articles on how to use the service:

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