Inventories

An inventory is a detailed list of the possessions of a deceased person.  It rarely included land in the early days as this did not come under the auspices of the ecclesiastical courts.  The list was produced soon after death, usually by someone with an interest in the estate, often by a neighbour and occasionally by an expert, particularly where specialist trade knowledge was required.  When the inventory was completed, it was signed by witnesses and returned to the court where the executor or administrator swore that it was a ‘true and accurate’ valuation of the estate.  The process was designed to ensure the honesty of the executor or administrator.

The inventory may include:

  • the name and parish of the deceased
  • the date the inventory was made
  • a detailed, room-by-room list of the contents of the property including furniture, inen, kitchen utensils, etc.
  • the clothes belonging to the deceased
  • the money he had in his purse
  • any stock or equipment owned by the deceased for his trade
  • any money owed to the deceased
  • the names and signatures of the appraisers

An inventory gives added detail about a person’s lifestyle and can be very informative.

Inventories included here:

  • Button Gwinnett, 1777