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Military wills pre World Wars

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Military wills pre World Wars

Postby pammakinson » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:48 pm

My great grandfather was a professional soldier from 1863 to 1893. Would he have made a will when he enlisted in 1863?


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Re: Military wills pre World Wars

Postby brunes08 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:25 am

The Government site probatesearch.service.gov.uk can be searched for wills of British forces personnel who died whilst on service from 1850 to 1986. The main point here is that they died whilst on active service. If your gt grandfather died after having left the service, any will may not be in this section. You could look on the other section of wills for the same period. However, his 'last will and testament' (if he wrote one) would be the important one and previous ones would be invalid.
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Re: Military wills pre World Wars

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:00 am

My impression (i.e. I have no real means of backing this up but it is my opinion based on what I've read) is that in WW1 wills were in no sense compulsory but there was a pro forma in the pocket book (?is that what it was called?) that soldiers were encouraged to use.

There are, I think, some odd legal aspects to it, though. I can't check them because I'm just working on my phone but I have a suspicion that the pro forma, because it doesn't have witnesses, isn't actually a legal will normally but it was recognised as such only under wartime conditions. I think that the detailed discussions​ may be on the Western Front Association website.

Although the original question is about pre WW1 era, my initial suggestion is - why would it be different? So, my best guess (emphasise that last word!) is that there would be no compulsion to make a will. And unless he died in service, any such will would be scrapped when he left the Army.

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Re: Military wills pre World Wars

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:12 am

Just to add that answering the question properly, would probably require a specialist forum such as the Victorian Wars Forum.

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Re: Military wills pre World Wars

Postby Amazinggrace » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:55 pm

My grandads brother died at the somme. I have seen a copy of the will he wrote before going into
battle. It would appear to be a form that they were encouraged to fill in.There aresignatures on it of commanding officers.
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Re: Military wills pre World Wars

Postby pammakinson » Fri May 05, 2017 1:22 pm

Thank you all for your input. I have copies of my g grandfathers army papers from Kew before they went online and there was no will with the papers. When he enlisted in 1863 at age 21 he declared he had no relatives and being unable to find any other relatives on his line I thought a will may give some clue. He died a civilian in 1914 without a will


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