Archive of the month - where there’s a will…

May 18 2017

Record from the archives

‘Item one pig’. This quote is from the inventory of Richard Woodman of Andover from 1701 and records his worldly possessions at the time of his death. Alongside the one pig, which was worth 8 shillings, are details of featherbeds, pillows, stools, a warming pan, kettles, pots and a rug. Inventories are valuations of household goods which are often organised room by room, in this case, the chamber, the hall and the buttery. Personal items are often included, as well as foodstuffs, livestock, tools for specific trades and household items.  Where they survive, mostly for the 16th-18th centuries, they provide a unique insight into the households of ordinary people and how they lived.

Inventories often accompany wills and both offer a wonderful insight into the lives of our ancestors and into social history. Wills are statements recording how the testator intended their property to be dispersed. While quite formal in structure, they are personal in nature and can help to clarify distant relationships and identify the names of married daughters. Hampshire Archives and Local Studies holds wills which date back to the 1490s for the Diocese of Winchester and up to 1857. Thereafter, we hold officially registered copy wills from the Winchester District Probate Registry from 1858 to 1941. We hold an extensive collection, caring for 110,000 wills and 35,000 inventories. These can searched in our online catalogue.

Wills and inventories will also be discussed as part of our popular family history workshop which will next take place on 20 June 2pm - 4pm. Discover which sources can help you uncover the secrets of your family and where to find them. The cost is £20 and advanced booking is required.

The workshop can be booked by phoning 01962 846154 or emailing