After an individual’s death without a will, nineteenth century intestate laws in Pennsylvania directed the surviving spouse to act as the administrator. If they chose not to act as administrator they had to formally ‘renounce’ their right to do so and appoint another person in their place. If the spouse no longer survived the eldest son or daughter typically acted as administrator. Renunciation records provide the name of decedent, name and relationship of individual appointed to act as administrator, and name and relationship of the individual appointed in their place. Records may also provide signatures of the witnesses present.
Names are indexed under the individual that died. Related death records may have been filed separately in the Orphans’ Court, Inventory, and Account Index. Renunciations prior to 1828 may be found within Orphans’ Court papers kept at LancasterHistory.org. Renunciations beginning in 1903 may be filed in Estate Files.