The Isle of Man
Family History Society

Index to Wills and Decrees 1576-1960

The late Brian Lawson was behind the original project and we are grateful to Brian and the small army of individuals who have transcribed the documents.

The index has been prepared from the official indices in the Archdeacon’s (LDS film 0106195) and Episcopal (LDS film 0106366) Registries. Over 50,000 Wills, Decrees and Agreements have been indexed.

The separate Registries were combined into a single Civil Registry from 1885 onwards. The index to this Registry up to and including the year 1949 is available on LDS film 0106366 – the last part of the film recording the Episcopal Registry Index.


The LDS have copied all Wills and Decrees that were in the Rolls Office up to and including the year 1916. Although this index contains Wills and Decrees for the years 1917-1920 no LDS film number can be given for these Wills and Decrees. They are included only for the sake of completeness as 1920 marks the end of an Index Book. However a few Wills and Decrees from earlier periods (1576 – 1630)and later periods (up to 1961) have been transcribed and are now included in this Index.

Editing and Indexing Methods

Some entries have been modified as information becomes available from Will transcriptions, e.g. maiden or alias names have been added when they are stated in the Will but not in the official index.

Original spellings have been maintained but obvious variations have been grouped, e.g. Cane, Cain, Caine, Cayne have all been grouped under Cain. Some major variations, e.g. Carran/Karran, have been grouped. In these instances a cross-reference has been placed on the appropriate page.

In the same way forenames such as Eleanor, Elin and all the variations have been grouped under Eleanor. Kate/Katharine will be found under Catherine and Bessie/Eliza under Elizabeth.

Alias, Otherwise and Nee

Historically female rights have always been much stronger on the Island than in the rest of British Isles. Prior to about 1700 most female Wills and Decrees were written and filed using the maiden name. As English legal practice became more established the more familiar form of using the married name followed by the maiden name became the norm.

A Will or Decree is listed in this index using the name as it appears in the document using the abbreviation “als” to indicate the maiden name where it is given in the document. Early Wills and Decrees are listed under the maiden name. A second entry appears under the married name when it is clear from the document itself. In this case the word “nee” is used in the title.