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From Finding birth/baptism/marriage record for Priscilla who married printer Henry Hughes probably about 1810 in Breconshire, Wales? I know that my Hughes ancestors included three prominent printers in Brecon, Wales:

  • Henry Hughes (ca 1755 - 1794)
  • Henry John Hughes (ca 1781-1820; son of the above)
  • Priscilla Hughes (ca 1782-1839; wife of the above)

On 9 Feb 1820, in the Hereford Journal, Henry advertised a house to let at Wheat Street, Brecon. He was recorded as being a Printer of Struet, Brecon.

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I am not sure whether this was a property owned by Henry, or simply one in which he was acting as an intermediary for its letting, but, in any event, I suspect that the Hughes family would have had assets to do with their printing business that would have meant wills and probate were likely.

However, I have not found a will or probate for any of the three. Some of their output as printers seems to be present in the National Library of Wales but I have not found their wills/probate there.

Am I overlooking a likely source for any possible wills/probate of theirs? Would the two Henrys both dying aged 39 mean that they might not yet have been thinking about what happened after their deaths? If they died without wills, would there be letters of administration somewhere to enable the assets to be handed on?

The eldest son of Henry John and Priscilla, also called Henry (ca 1809 - 1892) was also a Printer and Stationer, at first in London, but mostly in Trevithin/Pontypool, so I am assuming that the printing assets must have passed to him.

His own probate, on 9 May 1892, was granted to his sons Henry (newspaper proprietor and publisher) and David Williams (printer and stationer).

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  • It doesn't answer your question, but have you seen this extensive collection of family/business records related to the younger Henry Hughes? gwentarchives.gov.uk/media/15950/… Also with regard to your final sentence, without seeing the will it is impossible to say who inherited what. All you know is that his sons Henry and David were executors of the will (i.e. were granted probate), but it's possible (though unlikely) they inherited nothing at all. – Harry Vervet Aug 24 '15 at 2:20
  • @vervet Yes - I came across that archive quite a while ago but until yesterday had not been able to connect the Pontypool Henry Hughes with the two Henry Hughes from Brecon. Now I have examined the relevant baptism and census records in much more detail and the relationship now seems clear. As an aside I noticed David William Hughes written as David Williams Hughes in one of those documents and his mother was Jane Williams so I am adding an "s" to his middle name now. – PolyGeo Aug 24 '15 at 2:52
  • @vervet Of particular interest from that archive will be "D1460/67 Leather wallet containing bill, Henry Hughes' baptism certificate, a black edged envelope, a list of the members of the House of Commons, a letter from Evan Prosser to Henry Hughes, the marriage certificate of Samuel Money and Ann Morgan and a reference for Ann Money from Sarah Strode. (7 items) 1807-1874 ". Henry was baptised at Brecon on the same day (15 Jun 1814) as his brother David and sister Elizabeth (my 3rd great grandmother). – PolyGeo Aug 24 '15 at 3:39
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There are a limited number of places that a will would be located for these individuals. If you cannot locate one after ruling out all the options below, it would be reasonable to conclude that they did not leave a will.

Before 1858, almost all wills in England and Wales were proved in ecclesiastical courts. The court in which a will was proved is based on the place where the deceased died and where their estate was located. A guide to locating wills for ancestors in Brecon was published many years ago by the LDS: Welsh Probate Jurisdictions – South Wales and Monmouthshire.

Brecon was in the Archdeaconry of Brecon, which was in the diocese of St. David's, which was in the province of Canterbury. Therefore the stepwise process for locating a will should be to search the following courts, typically starting at the lowest-level court:

  1. Consistory Court of the Archdeaconry of Brecon
  2. Episcopal Consistory Court of St. David's
  3. Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC)

In some cases determining which court had jurisdiction may be complex. For example, a person with estate of value of more than £5 in two dioceses of the province of Canterbury, would be proved in the PCC rather than a diocesan-level court. If your ancestors had property in both Breconshire and London, or if they were very wealthy, then PCC would be most likely. Given PCC is easiest to search – these wills are fully indexed by The National Archives, Ancestry.co.uk, and TheGenealogist.co.uk – it may actually be the best starting point. Unfortunately your Hughes don't appear in the PCC indexes.

Probate was granted in a local court for the vast majority of people. The Archdeaconry court is most likely where you will find wills for the Hughes, if they exist. There is no complete index available online. For those who cannot make it to the National Library of Wales or Powys Archives, you can order films potentially containing the records from FamilySearch.

For the Archdeaconry of Brecon, the following film collections will be of interest:

Some wills for Brecon residents are indexed in the Powys Archives Catalogue. I cannot see any for the individuals you mention, however the catalogue is not complete. If you contact Powys Archives they may be able to do a search of their indexes for you, enabling you to order a copy of any documents of interest.

After 1796, estates that were worth more than £10 were liable to death duties. Records of these duties were maintained, and a register of death duties is searchable on FindMyPast: Index To Death Duty Registers 1796-1903. If probate or administration was granted for an estate on which death duty was levied between 1796 and 1903, it should appear in these indexes. More information about these records can be read in this article by TNA: Death duties 1796-1903: further research.

Keep in mind that there may simply be no wills or administrations for these people. It may be true that they ran a successful printing business, but if their affairs were straightforward there may have been no need for their estate to go to probate. When searching, also note that probate or administration may not have been granted in the year a person a died – in some cases it took several years, even decades in rare cases, to get everything in order.

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