Analysing a series of wills

Full-text transcripts were made by G.W. Hatton of a total of 556 Northamptonshire wills, covering:

The transcripts were made as literally as possible, retaining spellings and capitalisation; in addition, each will transcript includes a short introduction summarising key points of interest in the document and identifying links with other wills in the series; finally, the transcripts are interspersed with historical notes illustrating and commenting upon relevant religious, political and enivronmental events, to aid interpretation of the will texts.

The aim was to provide in-depth data for social study of a contiguous area of around 50 square kilometres over a 200-year span, including a mix of communities of differing sizes and types. A subsidiary aim was to gather data that might be of use in making good the lack of early parish registers for Kilsby and Barby up to the point when Bishop's Transcripts commenced.


The analyses carried out range from basic factors such as annual rates of will-making and estimates of the proportion of the communities that made wills, to fine details such as comparing the date at which the will was made with the subsequent date of death, and analyses of the distribution of occupation and wealth through the community, and the ways in which these metrics changed through the study period.


The results are contained in four documents that may be viewed/downloaded:

Main aspects

The study revealed an enormous amount of small detail:

Uses in other studies

The data from the transcripts has already been used or is currently being used in five other studies: