Prior to 1858 wills were the responsibility of the church and remained in the district where they were proved. Until 1883 married women legally had no property to leave - everything belonged to their husband. Single women and widows could leave wills. However, in many cases widows would only be entitled to a life interest in part of their late husband's estate so would have nothing to bequeath. Not all wills are proved, there being no legal rquirement unless the estate is above a threshold, which was £300 in 1881. Microfilm copies of Wills 1858-1928 are held by the Derbyshire Record Office at Matlock, and before 1858 by the Lichfield Record Office, Staffordshire.
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