Wills Before 1858 by Eve McLaughlin. Varneys Press, Aylesbury, Bucks, England. (Obtainable from Wells Genealogical Research, 4504 Fox Creek Drive, Crystal Lake IL 60012. $3.20 plus $1.50 p&h.

For some reason many people do not look for a will for their ancestors, perhaps figuring that their ancestors didn't leave one. Eve lets readers know that looking for wills is a necessity. While it might not be an easy task, her guide covers the how and why of wills, who might have written one (most people unless extremely poor) and who might not (usually women).

Although women didn't legally own anything, even property given to them before marriage, some did write wills. They are genealogical treasures as women often included most people in the family, including the extended family.

Ms. McLaughlin sets out a road map of which wills were filed in what court. The explanations of terms within the text is supplemented by a brief glossary. A rough guide to locating wills by county includes Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Ireland.

This book will give the researcher a good background on the description of wills, inventories, how and when wills were written and where they might be filed. It will also give the researcher the courage to look for wills for their various British ancestors.

Reviewed by Ann Wells
BIGWILL v.3 no.2, 1996