England, Durham, Diocese of Durham Original Wills (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Diocese of Durham Original Wills, 1650-1857 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Durham,  England
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Record Description
Record Type Wills
Collection years 1650-1857
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Durham University

What is in This Collection?

This collection will include original wills from 1650-1857. These records will be linked to an index on the Durham University's website: http://familyrecords.dur.ac.uk/nei/data/advanced.php probate records.

Although many will records before the 17th century are hard to come by, most of the records since then are originals and have kept their validity. The date of the testator's death was often used to endorse wills from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition, some original wills were made simply by the testator filling in a pre-printed form with their desires in regards to the disposal of their estates.

Durham is a county in North East England near the German Ocean. The name "Durham" comes from the Old English "dun", meaning hill, and the Old Norse "holme", which translates to island. It is about 40 miles in length and 30 miles in width. This county was formerly under the special jurisdiction of the Bishop of Durham.

Collection Content

Sample Image

England, Durham Probate Records, Orginal Wills Consistory Court of Durham DGS 004050665 1.jpg

Wills usually include:

  • Surname and Given Name of the Participant
  • Age and/or Birthdate of Participant
  • Gender of Participant
  • Residence
  • Occupation
  • Marital Status
  • Surname and Given Name of Spouse
  • Names of Children
  • Name and Address of Beneficiary
  • Name of Executor of the Will

How Do I Search This Collection?

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor's given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

To search this collection by name:

To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the "Reference number" category which takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community.
  • Continue to search the images and records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives.
  • Look for an index either at the beginning or the end of the images.
  • Be aware that errors (such as name spelling) still may have occurred in the documents, especially if the document was not written up by the testator.
  • Search the records of nearby localities (Northumberland on the North, Cumbria on the West, Westmorland on the East and North Yorkshire on the South).

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

“England, Durham, Diocese of Durham Original Wills, 1650-1857.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Special Collections, Palace Green Library, Durham University, Durham.

Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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