Court of the Bishop of London

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Description[edit | edit source]

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.

Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry.

Step by Step[edit | edit source]

1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will, writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.
2. Proceed to the "Records" (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court. Also see "Family History Library Records."
3. Contact or visit London Metropolitan Archives at 40 Northampton Street or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send a list of record searchers upon request.
4. Visit The Family History Library, or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes to probate records; then with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons also on microfilm via any centers near you.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes[edit | edit source]

Printed and Published Indexes[edit | edit source]

The original and microfilmed records include indexes or calendars, which in some cases pre-date the surviving records. 

In addition, the London Record Society published in 1967, abstracts of the original wills for 1508-1547, and the registered wills for 1492-1520.[1]

  1. Darlington, Ida, ed. "London Consistory Court Wills, 1492-1547." London: London Record Society, 1967. FHL book 942.1/L1 B4L, vol. 3. Worldcat OCLC number 148094.

Records[edit | edit source]

Archive Location[edit | edit source]

The records are deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives. They include:

  • Original wills, 1508-1646, 1661-1858
  • Register copy wills, 1492, 1514-1520, 1540-1641, 1570-1858
  • Administration acts, 1540-1591, 1670-1858
  • Vicar General's books containing probate material, 1520-1644 (with gaps), 1660-1685

Archive Records[edit | edit source]

Add information about the manuscript, printed and digital records in this location.

Family History Records[edit | edit source]

Many records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and through family history centers. They include:

Jurisdiction[edit | edit source]

Also known as the Episcopal Consistory Court of London, this court had jurisdiction over the whole of the diocese of the Bishop of London expect in the peculiars. The diocese covered the whole of London city and the county of Middlesex and most of the county of Essex (until 1846). It also had concurrent jurisdiction with the archdeaconries of St. Albans (Buckinghamshire), Colchester, Essex, London and Middlesex, as well as both divisions of the Commissary Court (London and Essex & Herts.), exercised through the Bishop's Vicar General.

This court also had post-1846 jurisdiction over the following parishes in Kent county:

  • Charlton
  • Deptford
  • Eltham
  • Greenwich
  • Lee
  • Lewisham
  • Plumstead
  • Woolwich