Format (continued)

Example: the Account of Robert Thorneton

The probate account of the estate of the intestate Robert Thorneton of Durham City exemplifies these typical characteristics.

Image demonstrating the outline format of a probate account.
The 1692 account of Robert Thorneton of Durham city, clerk [Ref: DPRI/1/1692/T3/2-3].

3. The Preamble

The preamble states the accountant's name, address, status and role as the administrator, and then the name, address and occupation of the deceased.

Image of the preamble of the Thorneton's account.

  A Declarac[i]on of the Accompt
of David Dixon of the Citty of
Durham Gent[leman] Ad[ministra]tor of all &
singular the goods and Chattells
w[hi]ch late were and did belong
unto Robert Thorneton Clerke
late of the Citty of Durham
dec[ease]d made upon the Ad[ministrat]ion of ye
s[ai]d dec[ease]ds goods as followeth vi[delice]t

4. The Charge

Then immediately follows the charge of 20 6s 6d, and which accords with the surviving inventory appraised on 1 September 1692 but not exhibited in the court until 20 July 1694.4

Image of the charge of Thorneton's account.

  Impr[imi]s the said Accomptant by way
of accompt doth charge himself
with all & singular ye goods & Chattells
of the said deceased, comprized
in an Inventory here of made
duely apprized & Exhibitted
into this Worship[fu]ll Court amounting
unto the sum[m]e of
spacer20 li 06 s 6 d

5. The Discharge

The discharge follows, beginning with the court's own charges for issuing letters of administration to the accountant, probably in July 1692.5

Image of the discharge of Thorneton's account.

  Out of w[hi]ch he craveth allowance
as followeth vi[delice]t
  Impr[imi]s paid by this Accomptant for
lett[e]rs of Ad[ministrant]ion & oth[e]r Charges
about the same ye sum[m]e of
spacer00 li 19 s 06 d

The discharge continues with a 50 bond debt dating from 1683 and owed to Thomas Comber, Dean of Durham, and the sum of 1 6s 8d that the accountant Dixon reclaims for the cost of having the account itself drawn up together with the associated court fees for its exhibition and admittance.

The discharge is then tallied. This and the next sentence are often in Latin, even when the rest of the document is in English - a legacy of the antiquity and conventionality of the probate account as a standard legal form. English did not become the official language of documents until 1733.6

Image of the total discharge of Thorneton's account.

  Sum[m]a total[is] sic solute[e] p[er] d[i]c[t]um
Computantem et ei allocare
petit est
spacer52 li 6 s 2 d
  [The entire total thus disbursed by the said
accountant and [which] it is requested
to be allowed to him]


4 The inventory also records that Robert Thorneton had been the rector of Boldon parish in County Durham.
5 The Probate Acts do not survive for this date, however the bond is dated 26 July 1692.
6 Pubic Act, 4 Geo. II, c. 26: Courts of Justice Act, 1731.

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