ScotlandsPeople uploads 31,000 soldiers' wills

By steveharnell, 28 May 2014 - 3:35pm

ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk has uploaded a collection of 31,000 Scottish soldiers' wills to its website 
 

Scottish soldier Andrew Cox and a copy of his will (Credit: ScotlandsPeople)

Researchers can now discover the final wishes of 31,000 Scottish soldiers online following the addition of a new wills collection to ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk.

Digitised from documents at the National Records of Scotland, 26,000 of these wills were penned by men from the First World War, with the remainder concerning troops who fell during the Second World War, the Korean War and Boer War. The WW1 records cover all Scottish infantry and cavalry regiments, as well as the Royal Artillery, Machine Gun Corps and more.

The soldiers' wills were usually found in pay books retrieved on the battlefield, recorded on forms in Army record offices in Britain, or in the absence of a will, in letters home in which soldiers might mention their last wishes.

After the War Office had settled the estate of a soldier who died on active service, including entitlements to pay and pension, they sent the will to the civil authorities. For soldiers with a Scottish domicile, this was the Commissary Office in Edinburgh. After 1940, the wills were transmitted to Register House in Edinburgh, where they are now preserved by the National Records of Scotland.

On the whole, most of the wills are for rank and file soldiers. The records are for soldiers up to the rank of warrant officer who were domiciled in Scotland, although they also include men who were promoted from the ranks.

Researchers can find out the battalion, regiment, rank and service number of a soldier, as well as the name of the person who is the beneficiary of the will. They can also find out the date when the will was made and the date of death of the soldier.

Unlike recorded wills elsewhere in ScotlandsPeople, you can also see the handwriting of the person who made the will.

There are various ways in which you can search these records. The most common way of searching will be by surname, first name and date of death. However, if you are vague on some of the details, you can filter your search with the person's service number, rank, battalion, regiment, theatre and cause of death.

The wills are free to search though there is a charge of 10 ScotlandsPeople credits to view a will or a £2.50 separate transaction. Typically, a Soldiers' Will document contains four images, including the envelope, but some records do contain more.

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