Jane Whittle

22 February 2024

Save Our Wills

In 1942 a bombing raid on Exeter destroyed the cathedral’s probate archive, and the pre-1858 wills of Devon, Somerset and Cornwall went up in flames. Their destruction left a large hole in our knowledge of the ordinary inhabitants of south-west England between the Middle Ages and the mid-19th century. The Ministry of Justice is currently consulting on whether it should get rid of all of the UK’s post-1858 wills apart from those of a few ‘famous people’. Everyone else’s would be destroyed and only digital copies preserved.

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