Wills and Inventories

The following is part of an ongoing project of transcribing 17th and early 18th century wills and inventories relating to people in Doncaster or surrounding villages, which are mainly held on microfilm at the Borthwick Institute inYork. 

Many of the names in the documents were prominent people of the local community living through outbreaks of the plague, the turmoil of the civil war (when Doncaster was at times occupied by first one side then the other), the Commonwealth and, after that, the Restoration. A number of these were Freemen of Doncaster, Aldermen and Capital Burgesses, some of whom are mentioned in the Doncaster Royal Charters of 1664, 1685 and 1688. The population of Doncaster at the time has been estimated at 2,000. 

Wills and inventories are a notable and recognised source of valuable information for family research. Of particular interest are those wills which list other family members, whilst for local historians interested in the social history of a particular area the inventories provide a record of items of furniture, implements, etc. often using descriptions that are now obsolete. 

The transcribing and checking of these documents has being undertaken by a small group of friends, all of whom are members of the Doncaster & District Family History Society and were members of the now defunct Doncaster Archaeological & Historical Society. 

Within this booklet are to be found –

  • a contents page
  • an index of names mentioned and
  • a glossary of most of the obsolete words found in the inventories. 

All spelling has been left as found but where words have known abbreviations these have been printed in full and the thorn sign – ‘y’ has been transcribed as ‘th’ (i.e. ‘ye’= ‘the’).

Thanks must be given to Maureen Hambrecht for teaching us to read old handwriting and also to Professor David Hey for inspiring at least one of us to become interested in local history many years ago. (Recommended reading: ‘Aspects of Doncaster’ which includes an article by David Hey with transcriptions and explanations of 18th century inventories of Doncaster). 

Additional notes about individual people were gathered from various books and records that are available for study at Doncaster Archives and the Local Studies Library.


Note: 2011.

We are now in the process of transcribing some 16th century wills of Doncaster people.

If you have any interesting old wills, inventories, indentures etc. in English (not Latin) relating to Doncaster people or events that you would like transcribed we would be happy to do them for a small administration charge. We can be contacted at readolddocs@aol.com

The first volume of Wills and Inventories is available as a free pdf download here, by clicking the following link: