Bedfordshire Family History Society

PO Box 214, Bedford MK41 8WB
Patron: Dr Colin R Chapman MA, CEng, CSci, CChem, FEI, FNucI, FRSC, FRSH, FSG
President: Pamela Birch
Registered Charity Number 281677


Bookstall and Downloads


Bedfordshire Wills Books transcribed by Patricia L Bell, BA, FSA

BFHS have published four Bedfordshire Wills books in paper book format and all four books are now also available as a download from and .
The paperback books are also available directly from
To give an idea of what is in the books, a description of the four books is shown below and further down is an example of sections of the index in book 4 plus an example of one of the wills.

Transcribed by Patricia L Bell, BA, FSA and published by BFHS.
Fully indexed by Person Name, Place and Subject. These books contain abstracts from the Probate books of wills proved in Bedfordshire and, in the second book, other cases brought before the court.

The index of each book can be viewed from the link by each book. A useful referance to see if your ancestor is listed.

Bedfordshire Wills 1531-1539

Front cover of Wills bookThis publication contains transcriptions of the Probate Registers (books 3, 4 and 5) from the Court of the Archdeaconry of Bedford, held at the Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service. It is fully indexed by personal names, places and subjects. An invaluable aid for Local and Family Historians and students of Tudor England. Contains 353 wills in 230 pages. Yellow cover. Published 2005.  (Click front cover to see bigger image)

Index of Bedfordshire Will 1531-1539 click here

Bedfordshire Wills 1537-1545 and cases from the Archdeacon's Court

This book contains the next batch of records (books 6, 7 and 10) from the Archdeacon of Bedford's Court which include a large number of other cases brought before the Ecclesiastical Court as well as records of Probate. These throw light on the practices of late Tudor times, but there are also many wills from this later period, following on from the previous volume. Fully indexed, this book forms an invaluable aid for Local and Family Historians and students of Tudor England. Contains 420 entries, of which 252 are full wills, in 208 pages. Blue cover. Published 2010 (Click front cover to see bigger image)

Index Bedfordshire Wills 1537-1545 click here


Bedfordshire Wills 1543-1547

This publication contains transcriptions of the Probate Registers (book 11) from the Court of the Archdeaconry of Bedford, held at the Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service. With full indexes of personal names, places and subjects, this book contains 268 new probate entries in 208 pages, with in addition a lengthy introductory analysis. Green cover. Published 2015. (Click front cover to see bigger image)

Index of Bedfordhire Wills 1543-1547 click here


Bedfordshire Wills 1547-1552

This volume is the fourth of the series and contains abstracts from 234 wills. 191 were proved in the ecclesiastical court for the Archdeaconry of Bedford between 1547 and 1551, twenty-six in the peculiar jurisdiction of Leighton Buzzard 1537 – 1554, and eighteen in the Biggleswade peculiar, 1540 – 1558. The publication of a group of wills enables us to see similarities, trends and differences over a range of common themes. Grey cover. Published 2017. (Click front cover to see bigger image)

Index of Bedforshire Wills 1547-1552 click here


An example of the Person name index:-

Mer(i)all, Merell, Meryall, Morell:
Edw 208,
Eliz 208
Jn 208
Nich 208
Olyver 105
Rich 105
sir Thos 105
Spenser 208
Syssely, Sycylle 208
Thos 105

An example of the Place index:-

Beeston (Beyston)   92
Biddenham (Bedenham, Bydenham)   87, 113, 119, 133, 175
  Great Bridge 87
  High Way 87
  property in 87
Biggleswade (Various spellings)   91, 136, 191-201, 203-208
  Brothirhed Land 204
  Bykylsward stone bridge 203

An example of the Subject index:-

cattle   9, 29, 56, 68, 77, 93, 117, 136, 146, 154, 164, 188, 191, 227
  breeder 142
  bulchin 75
  bullock 17, 18, 20, 28-9, 31-2, 34, 37, 39, 44, 46-7, 53, 56, 59, 64, 69, 80-83, 91, 93, 106-7, 112-13, 116, 129, 135-6, 143, 149, 161, 164, 166-7, 170, 172, 178, 182, 191-3, 195-6, 205, 208, 214, 219, 226, 233
  calves 2, 8, 14, 15, 38, 49, 57, 100, 103, 108-9, 124, 143-4, 160, 182, 225
  cow bullock 13, 15, 18, 21, 28, 30, 52, 56, 62, 77, 105, 107, 113, 124, 134, 151, 156, 158, 162, 167, 178
  cow calves 56
  cows 8, 9, 11, 19-23, 25-6, 28, 32, 37, 39, 40, 46-7, 55-7, 61-2, 69, 75, 76, 82, 84, 86, 90-1, 96-7, 102-3, 109-110, 112-3, 116, 118-9, 123, 124, 128-9, 131, 134-5, 142, 144, 149, 157-8, 160, 165-7, 169, 171, 173-4, 178, 183-4, 186, 190-1, 193-6, 201, 205, 208, 210, 214, 216, 224-5, 229, 232

An example of one of the Wills in book 4
208     [f.Bw/13]
John Merell, husbandman of Bekyllyswad, made 12 Oct. 1558, and at the end a date, presumably of probate, 5 Dec. 1558.
Soul to God Almighty, to Our Lady St. Mary, and to the blessed company of heaven. Burial in the church or churchyard of St. Andrewe at Bekyllyswad. To the high altar for tithes forgot 12d. To the poor inhabitants of Bekyllyswad 20s. and 20s. at his year’s tide to pray for the testator and his friends.
To each of the children of his brother Edward Morell of Stratton a quarter of barley. To Rychard Rechewourth’s wife 6 quarters of barley. To John and “Nycolle” the sons of Richard Recheforth a quarter of barley each. To his brother Spenser’s children at Edworth a quarter of barley each.
To his wife Elsabeth his house in Bekyllyswad with the appurtenances where he now lives for the next 10 years, and to her also the house where William Glover dwells, for the next 10 years. To wife also the 2 burgages in the occupation of John Wytthed for 10 years. To her also half his sheep.
To son Nycolas a cupboard, a table, a standing bed, also 4 pair of sheets, 10 quarters of barley, a cow, a bullock, half a dozen of pewter, and he to have his legacies at the age of 16.
To son Nycolas and his heirs testator’s house on the death of wife, and also half an acre of meadow in Hyllmede, and a shod cart.
To his son John a cupboard, a table, a standing bed, 4 pair of sheets, and at the age of 20 ten quarters of barley, and a cow and a bullock at the age of 18. To John also testator’s house in Bekyllyswade where Thomas Invyn now lives at the end of the 10 years after testator’s death, and to John and his heirs also two burgages now in the tenure of John Whythed.
To his daughter Syssely/Sycylle a standing bed, 6 pair of sheets, a cupboard, a table, a brass pot, a pan, a kettle and also 6 quarters of barley at the age of 16. To her also half a dozen pewter, a cow, a bullock, and to her and her heirs in 10 years time the house in Bekyllyswade where William Glove dwells.
To John [?]Mere... a pair of sheets.
To other half of his sheep to be divided between his children Nycolles, John and Syssely.
The share of any child dying before he or she has received their legacies is to be divided between the survivors.
Wife Elysabett is to keep all the houses in repair and should she remarry, she is to put in sureties for the performance of the bequests, or give them to testator’s brother Edward.
Executors: wife Elysabeth, son Nycolles and brother Edward, to whom 6s. 8d. Supervisor: Rychard Rechford, to whom 6s. 8d.
Witnesses: Thomas Rechford, John Haryson, “Aeme” Bedford.
Wife to have the whole occupying until son Nycolles comes of age, when he is to have half with her.
Testator has surrendered copyhold property into the hands of Thomas Recheford.

We hope this article may have stirred your interest in our Wills books.
Any queries please contact

Bedfordshire Parish Records on CD and Download

The Bedfordshire Family History Society has published a ‘Parish Records on CD/download, for each of the 128 ancient parishes within the county. Each CD/download covers one of the ancient parishes, also used as the basis for census districts, and contains images of the transcripts of the registers up to 1812. These replace a number of sets of records previously issued on microfiche, and in addition they carry photographs of the church and village, a description of the parish from a C19th Kelly's directory, and searchable indexes of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials. Also, where available, Monumental Inscriptions from the churchyard and other burial grounds are included, and a scanned copy of the relevant book from the Bedfordshire 1851 Census Index. For more details of parishes available and prices follow this link Parish Records on CD. These CDs are listed in our publications list , which includes a CD order form, and also available from our Online Shops Genfair or Parish Chest.

Bedfordshire Family History Society Journals on CD

This CD contains copies of Journal, Volumes 1 – 19 (i.e. up to December 2014), including indexes, in .pdf format. Each journal volume covers a period of two years and contains an individual index to surnames and subjects. The CD costs £10 including postage (UK only) and is available from our Parish Sales. Please use the CD order form in our Publications List. The CD can also be ordered online from our two outlets: here you can pay by card but you will pay postage in addition to the price: Online Shops
On this web site there is a searchable alphabetical index to those surnames referred to in articles in volumes 1 to 17. Surname Index.

Bedfordshire Heritage Tea Towels

tea towel with Bedfordshire map

These are really too nice to use for drying up; they are beautifully printed with some famous Bedfordshire landmarks forming a border for the County map. Even if you don’t have any Bedfordshire ancestors they make ideal gifts. They are 100% cotton and at £4.50 each can be obtained from the bookstall at Members’ meetings or by post (please add £1 for each tea towel ordered to cover UK postage and packing – for outside the UK please enquire) from: Cheques to be made payable to Bedfordshire Family History Society.


Bedfordshire Parish Poor Law Papers 1622-1834.

Poor Law Front CoverThis book contains a surname index of names of people that appear in surviving Bedfordshire Poor Law documents, held by Bedfordshire Archives Service. It also contains an alphabetical list by Parish of Poor Law documents that survive. The book is A5 in size and contains over 200 pages of information. (click front cover to see bigger image). Also available for download at our online shops.

To order - use the books ordering form in our Publications List. Alternatively you can order through the Online Shops

Postal & Online Shops

parist chestFor details of Books, CDs and additional goods concerning the county of Bedfordshire available from BFHS please click on ‘Society Information’ then ‘Bookstall’ and ‘Publications’ To order - use the order forms in our Publications List. Alternatively you can order through the online bookshop:


Genfair can also be found by following this link.
Parish Chest can be found by following this link.

Brian Payne