Some extracts from an article by Mary Williams, a former Bristol City Archivist, should explain all you need to know about this useful source.
“When a person died without leaving a Will, his next-of-kin, a close friend, or a creditor (someone to whom the dead person owed money), might apply to the Probate Court for the legal right to administer the estate. (In the majority of cases, where the estate was small and there was no doubt as to who should inherit, no application was made, and therefore no record survives.)”
The process of Administration gave rise, in general, to three types of documentation, namely Letters of Administration, Administration Act Registers and Administration Bonds.
“Letters of Administration were granted to the applicant who had to swear that there was no will, that he would pay funeral expenses and all debts, that he would administer truly and submit a true inventory and account of his stewardship. The Letters were usually kept by the Administrator, and this is why the Archives has no main series of these records.
When the Court granted the Letters, details of the Administration would be entered into a Register. The Bristol Archives Administration Registers date from 1767 to 1857.”
The Administration Bonds themselves are the subject of this particular project. The available manuscript indexes were not in a particularly convenient form, and they were known to contain significant inaccuracies, and so the Society was invited to compile a new index to The Bristol Administrations. This project was duly started in November 1994.
For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the requirement to be reasonably conversant with Latin, very few Society members have worked on this project, three to be precise. All the Society’s efforts have been concentrated on the other projects referred to elsewhere in this section so progress to a conclusion has been delayed. However, by the end of 2020, all transcription work had been completed and the final checking of the work was almost complete. A CD of the information is due to be published by September 2021.