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Will or Grant of Administration in England


Finding wills and administrations in England before 1858 can be difficult due to the system of ecclesiastical courts where probate was granted to an executor empowering him or her to act as executor in the distribution of the intestate’s estate. In cases where no will was made, letters of administration were granted to the next-of-kin, giving him or her authority to distribute the intestate's estate. The search for a pre-1858 proved will or grant of administration has two initial problems, namely to decide in which court the grant was made, and to ascertain where the records of that court are now kept. The estate of a person of small means was usually dealt with in the lowest permissible court, that of the archdeacon. The will of a person with goods in more than one archdeaconry was proved in the diocesan court. There were also various 'peculiar' jurisdictions, such as those exercised by the deans and chapters of cathedrals.

Those leaving goods in more than one diocese or peculiar to the value of £5 (£10 in London) or more were deemed to be in possession of bona notabilia or ‘considerable goods’ and, as such, their estates came under the cognizance of one or other of the provincial courts, the Prerogative Court of Canterbury or the Prerogative Court of York. If goods were held in both provinces the grant could be made either solely in the court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or in both provincial courts. The records of the minor probate courts are deposited in county record offices or other local repositories. The wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) are available online at the National Archives of England. Records of the Prerogative Court of York (PCY) are held at the Borthwick Institute, University of York. For more information about probate sources see Jeremy Gibson and Else Churchill, Probate jurisdictions: where to look for wills (Federation of Family History Societies, 2002).


Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (1384 - 1858)

Will of James Milliken, Mariner of Stepney, Middlesex, December 24, 1685

Extract: James Milliken of the parish of Stepney, at Hebensheath in the County of Middlesex, mariner, constitutes his friend and welbeloved landlord George Sibbey of the same parish, Baker, to be his lawful attorney in all his financial and personal matters at the time of his death’. He bequeaths all his personal estate to George Sibbey and appoints him his sole executor. Dated December 24, 1685 and witnessed by Ralph Dearznd (?) and Andrew Smith.

Probate granted to George Sibbey on September 3, 1687.

PROB 11/388

Will of David Millikin, Mariner of Christ Church Southwark, Surrey, August 20, 1700

Extract: David Millikin of Christ Church Southwark, Surrey, mariner and now belonging to the ‘Thomas’ frigate, Captain John Watts commander and bound for Angola, being in bodily health and sound of mind and memory publishes his last will and testament. He commits his soul to the Almighty God for his salvation and his body to the earth. He bequeaths all his estate to his friend William Bayley of Christ Church Southwark Parish. David Millikin made his mark. Dated August 20, 1700 and witnessed by Wm. Marple, Richard Noble and George Graydon.

Probate granted to William Bayley on February 4, 1702.

PROB 11/463

Will of Andrew Mallican, now on board the Ship Severn belonging to the Queen of England of Island of Johanna, March 21, 1703/4.

Extract: I Andrew Mallican of the Kingdom of Sweden now on board the Ship Severn belonging to the Queen of England residing at the Island of Johanna, being sick and infirm in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to Almighty God for the same. I ordain this my last will and testament in manner form following: - I make void all former and other wills made by me at any time; I bequeath my soul into the hand of Almighty God trusting in the victorious death and passion of my blessed Redeemer Jesus Christ receiving full and free blessed and forgiveness of all my sins and transgressions. And my body to be decently buried after the usual manner whether in earth or sea as it shall please God. And I give and bequeath unto my boarding friends, Hugh Dingle of the parish of Lambeth in the County of Surrey, John Anderson of ‘Lastaffe’ in the County of Suffolk, and John Pasthoe of ‘ffovey’ in the County of Cornwall, and all currently on board the said Ship Severn, all sums of money due to me for my service on board the said ship, and all money due to me for my service on board any other ship, together with my apparel, linen and woollen, and all other effects. To be equally divided between them, share and share alike and he appoints the said Hugh Dingle, John Anderson and John Pasthoe his executors to his last will and testament. Dated March 21, 1703/4 and witnessed by Robert Harland, Thomas Clayton and William King.

Probate granted to John Anderson and John Pasthoe on November 10, 1705.

PROB 11/485

Will of John Milligan, Linen Draper of Bury Saint Edmund, Suffolk, August 11, 1713

Extract: John Milligan of Bury St. Edmunds in the county of Suffolk Linen Draper being infirm in body but in sound mind, makes and ordains this his last will and testament in the manner and form following: - firstly, he commits his soul to the Almighty God that gave it and his body to be assigned to the earth to be therein duly buried in a Christian burial at the discretion of his executors hereafter named. He bequeaths unto Judith his beloved wife all that messuage or tenement in Bury which he purchased from Mr. Jonathan Leats of Stowmarket with the right and privilege to the same, to have and hold the same tenement. He also bequeaths to her the sum of £300 of lawful money Great Britain out of his personal estate with his best bed and bedding as it stands within his chamber and all the furniture in that room with all his wearing Cloathes and wearing Linen, all of which he leaves to her discretion to dispose of among her three children as she shall think fit. He bequeaths to his brother Roger Milligan of Monk Ely the sum of £50 of lawful money out of his personal estate and also share and share alike of his wearing Cloathes and wearing Linen after his death. He bequeaths to his nephews; James Gipson £50, John Gipson £100, John Munzie £100, Robert Gipson £100 and appoints and nominates his beloved wife and loving brother Roger Milligan to be his executors to his last will and testament. John Milligan signed and sealed his will. Dated August 11, 1713 and witnessed by Charles Boadel and John Bull.

Probate granted to Roger Milligan on January 15, 1715.

PROB 11/544

Will of John Milligan, Draper of Waltham Holy Cross, Essex, December 31, 1716

Extract: John Milligan of Waltham Holy Cross in the County of Essex, Draper, being in bodily health and sound of mind makes his last will and testament. He bequeaths unto four children born of his loving sister Catherine Milligan, but first wife of Thomas Kennedy of Arkensow of Kirkbride parish in the County of Nithsdale in North Britain the sum of £40 money to them. He mentions his friend William Stuart at the Dare in St. Lawrence’s land, linen draper. He bequeaths to his friend Mr. Parlile, minister of the Dissenting Congregation at Cheobates £10. He bequeaths all his personal estate to his beloved wife, Mary Milligan, and nominates her executor. Dated December 31, 1716 and witnessed by John Oldains, John Payson and Daniel Allsup.

Probate granted to Mary Milligan on January 10, 1718.

PROB 11/562

Will of John Milligan of Romford, Hornchurch, Essex, March 19, 1725.

Transcript: IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN, I John Milligan of Romford in the parish of Hornchurch, in the County of Essex, being infirm in body but of sound and perfect mind and memory (praise be therefore given to Almighty God for the same, I make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following (that is to say) first and principally I command my soul into the hands of Almighty God, hoping through the merits and death and passion of our saviour Jesus Christ to have the free and full pardon of all my sins and to inherit Everlasting life. And my body I commit to the Earth to be decently buried as the direction of my Exectutrix herein after named. And as concerning the disposition of such temporal Estate as it hath pleased Almighty God to bestow upon me, I give, devise, bequeath and dispose thereof as follows, Imprimis; I will that all my just debts and funeral charges be first paid and discharged. Item; I give devise and bequeath to my loving son, John Milligan that my Copyhold field or estate called Maggot’s field containing by estimation, five acres more of less, adjoining to my free Estate or farm called Archer’s now in the tenure and occupancy of John Morril’s, situate lying and being in the parish of Upminster in the County of Essex, within the Manor of great Ganies and which I have surrendered to the use of my Will. I give the said Copyhold field to my said son John Milligan and his heirs for ever. Item; I give, devise and bequeath to my loving wife one Moiety of all my real Estate in the parishes of Upminster and Horn Church and high Ouger and the Tower of Romford for and during her natural life, she not committing was thereon and keeping all the said Messuages and Tenements in good and sufficient repair till my said son John Milligan attain to the age of one and twenty years. Item: I give to my said loving wife Ann Milligan all the profits, rents and emoluments of the other Moiety of all my real Estate whatsoever till my said son John Milligan shall arrive to the age of one and twenty years. The taking care of the Education and bringing up and putting him my said son out on Apprentice to some honest and creditable trade and employment …………. from … and after which said time my Will and meaning is that my said son John Milligan shall be entitled to and possessed of and take one moiety of all the rents and profits of my said real estate for his own use, he paying an equal share and proportion towards the repair of my said real Estate or devised premises that shall be found necessary to be done. Item; I give, devise and bequeath to my loving son John Milligan and the heirs of his body lawfully to be begotten after the demise or decease of my loving wife Ann Milligan all my real Estate whatsoever. Viz. one farm Messuage or Tenement with all and singular the appurtenances therewith belonging, called Archers situate lying and being in the occupancy of John Morill’s and which I purchased of [blank] Collins and Mary Collins his wife, and also that my freehold Estate or three pieces of land with an Orchard containing by estimation Nine acres more or less situate lying and being in the South and Wood in the parish Hornchurch in the County of Essex now in the tenure and occupation of [blank] Mosley, widow. And also one acre of meadow… Land being in the parish of High Ouger in the County aforesaid now in the tenure and occupation of John Russell and which I purchased of Netherwood. And also a small Cottage or Tenement with the appurtenances near the said Tan Yard or Tan house now with the said Netherwood. And also one other Messuage or Tenement with the appurtenances situate lying and being in the Town of Romford adjoining to and having the Queens Head Inn on the East thereof and now in the tenure and occupation of Mary Aylett, widow. But in the case my said son John Milligan shall dye in his minority without issue lawfully begotten, I will, devise and bequeath said real estate and all the devised premises to my loving daughter Ann Milligan and the heirs of her body lawfully to be begotten. And in the case she dies in her minority and without issue lawfully begotten, I give, devise and bequeath my said real estate and all the devised premises to my loving wife Ann Milligan and her heirs for ever. Item; I give and bequeath to my loving daughter Ann Milligan, the sum of Five hundred pounds of good and lawful money of Great Britain to be paid to her on the day of her marriage or when she shall attain to the age of one and twenty years which shall first happen. And in case my said daughter Ann shall dye in her minority and without lawfully to be begotten of her body my Will and meaning is that the said devised five hundred pounds shall be divide in this manner, (viz) My loving wife to have two hundred pounds and my son John Milligan the other three hundred pounds. My Will and meaning further is that my wife Ann Milligan shall take and receive the interest and profits of the said devised five hundred pounds towards the education, subsistence and bringing up of my said daughter Ann Milligan till the money becomes due and payable to her. Item; I give and devise and bequeath to the Treasurer and Trustees of the Charity School in Romford the sum of forty shillings of good and lawful money of Great Britain to be paid to the Treasurer for the time being within six months after my decease. Item; I will that my place, which consists of the following pieces (viz), One silver large tankard and one smaller one, Two large Candlesticks and Snuffers and snuff pan, a large Silver Coffee pot and Teapot and Lamp, One Cup, a sett of Casters, Two Salt Cellars , Two handsome Salvers, One plate or dish, Two sauce pans, four gilded spoons, one narrow spoon, and ten plain silver spoons, be equally divided between my loving wife Ann Milligan and my son John Milligan and daughter Ann Milligan. And my Will and meaning is that my wife shall have the use of the whole during her life. Item; I request my good friends, Mr. James Hotchkiss and Mr. Christopher Bayley to be Trustees of this my last Will and Testament to be aiding and assisting to my Executrix hereinafter named. And my will and meaning is that my said Executrix shall not without the priority and consent, the advice and direction of my Trustees, sell, alienate, transfer or remove my S. Sea stock and annuity from S. S. Company. All and singular the rest and residue of my goods and Chattels and personal estate, bills, bonds, debts due and demands, household goods, shop goods, moneys whatsoever excepting what is otherwise given and disposed of by this my last (Will) and Testament. I give devise and bequeath to my loving wife Ann Milligan whom I do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint sole Executrix of this my last will and Testament. And I do hereby revoke, disannul and make void all former Wills and Testaments by me made and do declare this contained or written on four sheets of paper to be my last Will and Testament having signed the three first of the said sheets and set my hand and seal to the last of the said sheets of paper. In witness whereof, I the said John Milligan have hereunto set my hand and seal the 19th day of March in the year of our Lord God 1725, and in the twelfth year of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland and defender of the faith.

John Milligan, signed, sealed, published and declared by the said John Milligan, the Testator to be his last Will and Testament in the Presence of us who witnessed the same in the presence of the Testator and in the presence of each other, John Walker, Peter Goodwin, and Henry Barnard.

Probate granted to Anne Milligan widow at London on May 13, 1726

PROB 11/609

Will of David Millagan, Linen Draper of Newton Longneville, Buckinghamshire, May 30, 1735

Extract: David Millagan of Newton Longneville in the County of Bucks Linen Draper being weak in body but of sound and perfect mind and memory for which he blessed God do make his last will and testament. He recommends his soul unto the hands of Almighty God trusting for Salvation in and through the merits of my blessed Saviour and redeemer Jesus Christ. He gives and bequeath unto his son and daughter Robert Millagan and Mary Adams wife of Robert Adams of Thornborough in the said County, baker, five pounds each to be paid unto them respectively by his executrix hereinafter named within one year next after my decease. He gives and devises to his dear and loving wife Anne Millagan and to her heirs for ever all his freehold land whatsoever and wheresoever the same be also he gives and bequeaths unto his said wife Anne Millagan all and every my Goods Chattells and personal estate whatsoever she paying his debts legacies and funeral expenses. He then nominates and appoints the said Anne Millagan my wife sole executrix of his last will. David Millagan signed and sealed his will. Dated May 30, 1735 and witnessed by Thomas Barritt, George Reeves and John Markham.

Probate granted to Anne Millagan on May 20, 1737.

PROB 11/683

Will of James Milliken, Mariner of Saint Paul Shadwell, Middlesex

Probate granted on July 7, 1739.

PROB 11/697

Will of James Millikin, Apothecary of Saint Margaret Lothbury, City of London

Probate granted on October 27, 1740.

PROB 11/705

Will of Robert Milligen, now Commander of the Shoreham Privateer, September 1744

Extract: Robert Milligen now Commander of the Shoreham Privateer being in good health of body and sound of mind, and in consideration of the uncertainty of death, published his last will and testament. He committed his Soul to God and his body to the earth or sea, if God permits. He bequeaths all his wearing apparel both linen and woollen to his brother John Milligen. He bequeath to his loving wife Orista Milligen all his personal estate and effects whatsoever at the time of his death and whatsoever if the same doth not in the whole at the time of his death exceed the sum of £800. He stipulates that if it happens that the sum exceed £800, after his wife has been paid, the remainder is to be divided into equal shares or part shares. He bequeathed a share until his loving brother John Milligen and his children, and another part unto his loving sisters, Mary and Agnes, and the remaining part to the children of his sister Helen Deroused. He appoints his beloved brother John Milligen and good friends Robert Liddesdale, merchant in London and John Tammean in London, merchant, his executors. Signed and Sealed by Robert Milligen on [day blank] September 1744 in the presence of James Lyon, Geo. Crawford, attorney, St. Mary’s Hill, London, his witnesses.

Probated granted at London to John Milligen, brother of the deceased, Robert Liddesdale and John Tammean, executors on January 4, 1746.

PROB 11/744

Will of Martha Milligan, Spinster of Saint Saviours Southwark, Surrey

Probate granted on January 19, 1753

PROB 11/799

Will of Robert Milligen, Mariner belonging to His Majesty's Ship Ruby, Devon, October 27, 1747

Extract: Robert Milligen mariner late residing at Plymouth in the County of Devon and now belonging to his Majesty’s Ship Ruby being in bodily health and sound of mind, and considering the perils and dangers of the Seas and misfortunes of this life, published his last will and testament. He commits his soul to God and body to be interred either in the earth or sea, bequeaths his personal estate to his loving friend Ambrose Old of East Stanehouse in the County of Devon and nominates him sole executor. Robert Milligen made his own mark. Dated October 27, 1747 and witnessed by William Northmore and George Robinson.

Probate granted to Ambrose Old on October 10, 1753.

PROB 11/804

Probate lawsuit Robert Milligen v [Ambrose] Old, concerning the deceased Robert Milligen of Plymouth, Devon and of HMS Ruby, 1755.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Allegations: PROB 18/67/30

Will of Patrick Mulligan or Mullegan, belonging to His Majesty's Ship Vanguard in Hamoze

Probate granted on April 6, 1757

PROB 11/829

Will of Morris Mullegan otherwise Mullgan, Mariner belonging to His Majesty's Ship Royal Sovereign

Probate granted on September 15, 1762

PROB 11/879

Will of Jane Millikin, Widow of Saint Austins Waltling Street

Probate granted on April 7, 1777

PROB 11/1030

Will of Rebekah otherwise Rebeccah Milligan of Earls Colne, Essex

Probate granted on December 3, 1778

PROB 11/1048

Will of Robert Mulligan, Broker of Saint George Southwark, Surrey

Probate granted on December 31, 1785

PROB 11/1136

Will of John Milligen of Plymouth, Devon, March 27, 1788

Extract: I John Milligen of Plymouth in the County of Devon, Esquire, being sick and weak in body but sound of mind, make this my last will and testament. He then commits his soul to God and his body to the earth to be buried at the direction of his wife. He bequeaths to his wife Martha Phillips Milligen and his niece Charlotte Milligen his house etc, and in accordance with his marriage bond, he leaves his wife £500 of Great Britain Stirling to be put in trust for her and the interest paid out annually by his trustees. He appoints his wife Martha Phillips Milligen, James Bell of Plymouth, esquire, and Bridget Bell his wife his executors and trustees to administrate his estate. He bequeaths to his niece Charlotte Milligen the sum of £500 Stirling to be held in trust and the interest paid out annually to her. And should she marry it is to be used. He bequeaths to his sister Liddia Seppings £400 in trust and should she die it is to be bequeathed to her daughters by her late husband Robert Seppings. He bequeaths unto his sisters Mary and Hellen Milligen equal portion the sum of £500. He bequeaths to his sister Elizabeth Milligen £400 in trust and in the event of her death, it is transferred to his sisters Mary and Hellen Milligen. He puts into trust the sum of £500 for his nephew Robert Seppings and is to be paid the sum of the yearly interest for the rest of his life from the £500. Should he die leaving no children, the said sum is to be transferred to his brother John Milligen Seppings for his life. He mentions a mortgage held by his brother Thomas Milligen. He also puts into trust the sum of £500 for his nephew John Milligan Seppings along with other gifts. He bequeaths to Miss Elizabeth Parrett the sum of £10. To his brother-in-law, [Ezekial] Revett, and [John’s sister] Helen Revett his wife, the sum of £10. He bequeaths to his wife and niece Charlotte other particulars of his estate. He empowers his wife, James Bell and Bridget Bell as his executors and trustees to pay out all the sums of money placed in trust to the persons named in his will. He makes this his last will and testament lawful signed by him on the twenty seventh day of March in the twenty eight year of the reign of Our Sovereign Lord George The Third and in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Eight. In witness thereof he sets his seal in the presence of Eliz. Jenkin, J. Rapsey and Peter Jenkin.

Probate granted to Martha Milligan, widow, relict of the deceased, Bridget Bell wife of James Bell, esquire, and James Bell, executors. June 21, 1788.

PROB 11/1167

Will of John Milligen Seppings of Plymouth, Devon, February 23, 1789

Extract: I John Milligen Seppings, mariner, belonging to the His Majesty’s Ship the Penelope, Captain John Linzie, being in bodily health and of sound mind and memory, and considering the dangerous and perilous uncertainties of the his transitory life, do make and publish this my last will and testament, in the manner following. I recommend my Soul to God that give it and my body to the executors as shall please God to order. And all my worldly estate I give, bequeath and dispose thereof as follows, that is, to day all my money, wages, sum and sums of money, lands, tenements etc, I give and bequeath unto my Aunt Martha Milligen of the Parish of Charles in the Borough of Plymouth in the County of Devon and now residing at No. 28 Gasken Street, Plymouth and I do hereby nominate and appoint my aforesaid Aunt my only executrices of this my last will and testament. In Witness thereof he set his Hand and Seal on 20th day of February and in the 23 year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third King over Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith and so forth. And in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Nine. Signed by “Jn’ Milligen Seppings”. Witnessed by John Linzie, Captain, and Thomas Boatswain.

Probate granted to Martha Milligan on June 21, 1789.

PROB 11/1167






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