Hampshire County Council has made 500 years of ancestry records (wills and probates) available online – completely for free. The records consist of wills, inventories and administrations dating from the 14th Century.

The collaboration, between Hampshire Council and Ancestry, has helped those looking to uncover their family history significantly easier. The public are able to access the records from any Hampshire library or record office. This is the first time where the entire Hampshire England wills and probates records have been digitalised and consequently become so widely accessible for the community.

Probate records are very useful in the world of family history. These official court documents concern the settlement of a person’s estate after they die. The deceased’s will outlines who their property has been left to and therefore offers a unique view into our ancestors’ daily lives and valued possessions.

The exciting new collection of ancestry records contains examples of many normal Hampshire residents over the years. For example, Thomas Hancock of Hawley died in 1604 of the plague. Interestingly, due to the seriousness of his illness, his will was handed over via a nine-foot pole due to concern of passing on the infection.

Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for countryside, culture and communities, commented:

It’s really exciting to be able to have Hampshire’s wills and probate records professionally digitised and made available online for the first time on Ancestry.

The agreement between Ancestry and the county council is helping to preserve the rich history of our county and making it more widely accessible. I am very pleased that people can access Ancestry without charge at our public libraries, and at Hampshire Record Office in Winchester.

Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, Hampshire County Council’s executive member

Kristian Lafferty, content acquisition manager at Ancestry, said:

We are really proud to have worked with such an innovative team to digitise another important collection on Ancestry.

Our team of experts have worked with Hampshire Record Office to make the records digitally available for the first time ever, giving people the opportunity to learn more about their roots in Hampshire and even spot some prominent faces from the region too.

Kristian Lafferty, content acquisition manager at Ancestry

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