Saturday, 17 January 2015

British wills, including those of Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill and my own great-granny, released online

Florence Nightingale, England and Wales, National Probate Calendar, 1910

Wills are public documents and in December 2014, the UK government announced it was making millions of them available online. These documents date back to 1858 and include the last wishes of 41 million people who died and left property in England and Wales. So, if you are interested in social history, family history or are just plain nosy, for £10, you can order the will of Florence Nightingale or maybe that of your own granny and a copy of the document will be available for download within two weeks.

Teresa Wynne, England and Wales, National Probate Calendar, 1958

The will of my great-grandmother, Teresa (Carroll) Wynne, was listed in their index. Teresa died of cancer at her home in Newcastle upon Tyne, on 9 July 1958, when she was seventy years old. By then, she had been a widow for over twenty years and resided with her second eldest son Brendan. Brendan, who remained unmarried until after his mother’s passing was named as the Executor of her estate, which was valued at over £3,500.

This week, I received my copy of her last will and testament and it reads:
  1. THIS IS THE WILL made the First day of May, One thousand nine hundred and fifty eight of me TERESA WYNNE of 297/299 Two Ball Lonnen, Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Widow. 
  2. I GIVE, DEVISE AND BEQUEATH all my estate both real and personal, subject to payment of my debts and funeral expenses, to my son Brendan Patrick Wynne absolutely and I APPOINT him my sole Executor hereof. 
  3. I REVOKE all former Wills, AS WITNESS my hand

Signature, Teresa (Carroll) Wynne, Last will and testament, 1958 

It’s short and to the point and, from a genealogical perspective, a little disappointing. Her seven other children did not even get a mention – on reflection, maybe it was even more disappointing for them.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Disappointing indeed (for them). Fabulous find Dara!

    1. It is a great find, Ellie, it's the only example of her signature that I have.

  2. I imagine it was a disappointment for them! Then, again, since Brendan lived with his mother, and was unmarried, perhaps she employed a different set of criteria to the decision than we might have used. I'm sure there's a story behind those brief details in that will...

    1. There are quite a few stories, Jacqi, and I'm slowing uncovering each one - my grandfather's exclusion occurred early in his life - he was only about six when the family emigrated to England, leaving him behind in Ireland.

  3. Hi Dara, Stopping by from GeneaBloggers. Even though I don't comment often, I have enjoyed your blog for some time, so it is especially enjoyable to learn more about you through the interview.

  4. You are featured in GeneaBloggers "May I Introduce You To..."! How terrific! It was great to see what you look like -- although I already knew you were a lovely person for all your encouragement and help! I liked learning more about you in the article. I hope it brings you breakthroughs and that so does the dog license registry!

  5. Dara,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  6. Congratulations, Dara, on all the well-deserved attention this week! I just saw you mentioned, both on Jana's blog and in the "May I Introduce to You" column at GeneaBloggers. Wonderful. You have such an interesting and helpful blog. It's good to see others are learning about it now, as well.

  7. As with most things in this life there are underlying issues attached to 'Nana' Teresa (Carroll) Wynne's codicil to her will - a codicil made very late on and when she was riddled with cancer and heavily medicated. I saw her signature, and it was clear she probably had some cognitive issues at that time. My mother Nora ended up as 'Nora the Peacemaker', between Brendan and Eileen.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!