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Fw: Scotland Wills & Testaments Now Online:

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  • Jewelle Baker
    Hello Group.... The below information, thanks to and derived from Sally Pavia, will be of interest to many of you. .....brrrrr... it s cold in Eastern N.C.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2012
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      Hello Group....
      The below information, thanks to and derived from Sally Pavia, will
      be of interest to many of you.
      .....brrrrr... it's cold in Eastern N.C. today ...
      brrrr !


      GenealogyPITT Co NC Friends In Research
      (Serving all Eastern/Coastal NC Counties)

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      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Wednesday, November 07, 2012 8:47 AM
      Subject: Scotland Wills & Testaments Now Online:

      Wills & Testaments

      If a person wished to settle his or her affairs before death, they drew up a
      will, which set down their instructions as to the disposal of their
      possessions and named the executor whom they wished to administer the estate
      The executor had to be confirmed by the court and the document drawn up by
      the court for this purpose is known as a testament. There are two types of
      testaments: the testament testamentar and testament dative.

      The testament testamentar applied when the deceased died testate (leaving a
      will). It comprised four parts: the introductory clause, an inventory of the
      deceased's possessions (see below), the confirmation clause and a copy of
      the will, stating the wishes of the deceased regarding the disposal of the
      estate and naming the executor (usually a family member) he or she had
      chosen to undertake this task. If a copy of the will was not included,
      reference was made to it having been recorded elsewhere, probably in the
      court's Registers of Deeds.

      The testament dative was drawn up by the court if a person died intestate
      (without leaving a will), in order to appoint and confirm the executor on
      their behalf. It comprised three parts: the introductory clause, an
      inventory of the deceased's possessions, and the confirmation clause. The
      testament dative might name a family member as executor, but if the deceased
      died in debt, a creditor might be appointed as executor instead. In such
      cases, the testament would include a list of the deceased's debts and would
      exist solely for the purpose of authorising the discharge of those debts.

      Under Scots Law, an individual's property was divided into two types:
      Heritable property consisted of land, buildings, minerals and mining rights,
      and passed to the eldest son according to the law of primogeniture.

      Moveable property consisted of anything that could be moved e.g. household
      and personal effects, investments, tools, machinery. It was divided into a
      maximum of three parts: the widow's part, the bairns part (all children had
      a right to an equal share) and the dead's part. For more detailed
      information on inheritance see FAQs on Property & Inheritance
      Before the early years of the 19th century, testaments related only to the
      moveable property of the deceased. However, from the early 19th century
      onwards, it was not uncommon to find dispositions, settlements, trust
      dispositions and settlements, etc. recorded in the commissary court
      registers, and these documents often included details of heritable property.
      After 1868, the law of primogeniture, where the eldest son inherited
      everything, still applied to heritable property unless there had been a
      specific disposition or bequest by the deceased to another party.

      The inventory lists the moveable property belonging to the deceased at the
      time of his or her death. It can include household furnishings, clothes,
      jewellery, books, papers, farm stock and crops, tools and machinery, money
      in cash, bank accounts and investments, as well as money owed to creditors
      and money due from debtors. Often the inventory consists only of a brief,
      overall valuation, but sometimes it is very detailed, with the value of
      every item listed. As such, it can supply a snapshot of the deceased's
      lifestyle and help to build up a picture of what social and economic
      conditions were like in a particular locality at a particular time. An
      inventory that contains a 'roup roll' is particularly interesting in that it
      itemises each lot sold in the auction and states the prices paid (sometimes
      with the names of the purchasers).

      Almost every document in the wills & testaments index contains an inventory
      of some kind, except where there are separate registers for wills. See the
      Famous Scots section for the inventories of Rob Roy McGregor, David
      Livingstone, Adam Smith and many others, or look atThe Way People Lived for
      more examples.

      The Courts
      Before 1823, testaments were recorded in the Commissary Court with
      jurisdiction over the parish in which the person died. Commissary Court
      boundaries roughly corresponded to those of the mediaeval dioceses that
      existed before the Reformation, and bear no relation to county boundaries.
      The Edinburgh Commissary Court, as the principal court, also had the power
      to confirm testaments for those who owned moveable property in more than one
      commissariot and for Scots who died outside Scotland.

      Commissary Courts were abolished in 1823 and Sheriff Courts assumed
      responsibility for confirmation of testaments from 1 January 1824, although
      the changeover process created a considerable overlap of dates in some
      courts. To find out more about the relationship between the Scottish
      counties and the courts look at our Courts Map. For further information on
      the courts themselves, see About The Courts

      The Wills & Testaments Index
      The wills & testaments index contains over 611,000 index entries to Scottish
      wills and testaments dating from 1513 to 1925. Each index entry lists the
      surname, forename, title, occupation and place of residence (where these are
      given) of the deceased person, the court in which the testament was recorded
      with the date. Index entries do not include names of executors, trustees
      heirs to the estate. They also do not include the deceased's date of death,
      or the value of the estate.

      If you are searching for a will or testament, you should bear in mind that
      there was no legal requirement for individuals to make a will. Indeed,
      comparatively few Scots actually bothered to do this. Even if someone died
      intestate, there was no obligation for the family to go to court to have the
      deceased's affairs settled. Many families sorted things out amicably amongst
      themselves, in which case there will be no testament.

      It is always worthwhile checking the indexes, however, because they can
      include persons from quite humble origins.

      Sometimes the intervention of the court to settle the deceased's affairs was
      not required until many years after the death, possibly due to a dispute,
      therefore if a will or testament exists, it may be recorded much later than
      you would expect.

      Images of Wills & Testaments
      Images of wills and testaments from 1500 to 1925 are available on this site.
      These images are full colour, authentic facsimiles of the original documents
      which are held at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh. For reasons
      of preservation, the original documents have now been withdrawn from public

      To find out more about what you might expect to see on a wills & testaments
      image, look at Images

      Sample images of wills & testaments from different periods can be viewed by
      selecting the appropriate period from the left hand menu.
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