Testamenta Vetusta - A collection of 803 wills from the 12th to 16th centuries


Cat No.:   GB0596:

Testamenta Vetusta is a collection of 803 wills from the late 12th to 16th centuries:

Testimenta Vetusta was collected and edited by Nicholas Harris Nicholas and published by Nichols and Son, Parliament Street, London in 1826.

He took his wills from the British Museum, private collections, Dugdale's Baronage, Collins' Peerage, County histories, Memoirs of Families, etc (his preface, p. 14). He was not able to access the originals then held in Doctors' Commons because of the difficulties imposed by the staff of those premises (preface, page 13). Some of the wills are abstracts for genealogical purposes where only the people and their relationships are written. He acknowledged his debt to John Nichols' Collection of Royal Wills.

Nicholas' prime purpose was to illustrate from those wills the manners and customs of their times; additionally he wished to include the descents and possessions of families. For every will he gives some footnotes to determine the person and other relevant information.

For anyone with an interest in medieval times, it is enthralling as an illustration of the manners and customs of their times. These wills describe what those persons held dear: what better introduction to their lifestyles can you imagine?

For genealogists there is priceless information given in the wills about their families.

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