Scope and Content Note

J0043-85: Contains wills registered by the Court of Probates, for which the court had granted letters of administration. Most wills were proved before a county surrogate or other judge.

J0043-92: This accretion is a record of wills, grants of administration, and (prior to ca. 1710) inventories and accounts of decedent estates. These documents were recorded and maintained by the provincial secretary or a deputy, who served as register of the New York Colony Prerogative Court (ending 1783) and by the clerk of the New York State Court of Probates (commencing 1778). (The Prerogative Court continued to function in British-occupied New York until the end of the Revolutionary War.)

J0043-92: Each will provides for the disposition of the testator's real and personal property and designates an executor or executrix. The will is witnessed by two or three persons. Accompanying each recorded will is the probate, or grant of administration. This usually takes the form of a grant of authority by the governor, his delegate, or a local court to the executor, to take an inventory of the decedent's real and personal property and to make an accounting of the assets and present it to the court. Many of the wills were made by widows, and some of the executors were women. Some of the wills bequeath slaves. The record books (particularly before 1700) contain a significant number of Dutch wills, sometimes giving both Dutch and English versions, sometimes only a translation. There are also a few records of nuncupative or oral wills, later reduced to writing by the witnesses; and holograph wills (i.e. a will prepared in the hand of a decedent, without witnesses).

J0043-92: Other probate documents recorded in these volumes include inventories of real and personal property (almost all dating prior to 1710); letters of administration; final discharges (sometimes in the form of a certificate of quietus) issued to executors upon final settlement of an estate; a few scattered orders; and letters testamentary (after 1778 only).

J0043-92: Volumes/libers dating before 1700 contain other records besides probate documents, as follows: Miscellaneous proceedings of the governor and council, ca. 1665-68, including the act for confiscating property of subjects of the Estates of Holland, 1665; admiralty and court-martial proceedings; sentences in criminal proceedings; and a petition for return of slaves belonging to the Dutch West India Company; minutes of court of vice-admiralty, 1683; transcripts of English documents relating to Trinity Church and its rector, William Vesey; Governor's orders and certificates of induction of rectors to several Episcopal parishes in Westchester and Queens Counties; records of marriage licenses, ca. 1694-1702 (found in libers 2 and 5); minutes of court of sessions held in Queens County, 1689/9;

J0043-92: proceedings of New York City mayor's court, ca. 1677-82, mostly records of civil complaints; also a few petitions, orders, letters of attorney, and commercial contracts; reports of coroner's inquests, New York City, 1680-84; miscellaneous orders and proceedings of New York City mayor and aldermen, 1680-82; copy of governor's order fining coopers and shoemakers for engaging in an "illegall combinacion [sic]" (i.e. trade union), 1682 (lists names of persons fined);proceedings in attachment by New York County sheriff of 38 slaves from Angola, taken from ship Providence of London, bound for Nevis, 1683; volumes/libers of the Prerogative Court dating from the period 1776-80 contain (in addition to probate records) scattered records of civil appointments and commissions by Governor William Tryon; and a few records of deeds and mortgages.