England, Kent, Wills and Probate (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England, Kent, Wills and Probate, 1440-1881 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Kent,  England
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Flag of England
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Location of Kent, England
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Record Description
Record Type Wills and Probates
Collection years 1440-1881
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Kent History and Library Centre

What is in This Collection?

This collection includes wills and probate records from the county of Kent, covering the period 1440-1881. Availability of the records varies by year and locality.

Probate records document the transfer of possessions after a person dies. Wills, in particular, were written to ensure that the property and personal estate of a deceased person would be distributed according to his or her wishes. If the deceased did not specify an executor, the court would usually assign the next of kin the duty of distributing the goods.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on this website are granted by the record custodians. Due to their restrictions, some images in this collection may not be available for general viewing, but can be accessed by registered FamilySearch Patrons at the Family History Library or a family history center. Registration for a free FamilySearch account can be done here.

For users in the United Kingdom, images may also be viewed by visiting the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone, England.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Kent, Wills and Probate, 1440-1881.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following list indicates potential information given in these records. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all of the listed information.

Wills and Probate Records may contain:

  • Full name of deceased
  • Residence of deceased
  • Names of beneficiaries (usually surviving spouse and children)
  • Name of executor or administrator
  • Names of witnesses
  • Date and place of will or probate
  • Relatives present at the time of death
  • Itemization of household goods and property
  • Listing of any debt or funeral expenses to be paid
  • Property names

Please note that the records most likely to contain information from the fifteenth century are wills.

How Do I Search This Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • Name of Person
  • Date of Record

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page. br>

  1. Select County, Court
  2. Select Record Type
  3. Select Year, Surname Range, Volume to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

Online Images

Archdeaconry and Diocese of Canterbury:

FamilySearch has rights to publish images online to users from the supporting organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and at FamilySearch Centers.


Miscellaneous Court Papers and Miscellaneous Court Papers Index (Registered Users, FamilySearch Centers and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Archdeaconry and Diocese of Rochester:

FamilySearch has rights to publish images online to Registered Users, FamilySearch Centers and members of the supporting organization.

Exempt Deanery of Shoreham:

FamilySearch has rights to publish images online to users from the supporting organization, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and at FamilySearch Centers.

Peculiar of the Rector of Cliffe:

FamilySearch has rights to publish images online to users from the supporting organization, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and at FamilySearch Centers.

In August 2011, a new agreement was signed restricting access to images older than 100 years. If even one image on a film exceeds the 100 year cutoff, the entire film is restricted. Many older films contained multiple items and year ranges.

FamilySearch, however, has other resources which are available to all researchers. These online records, and many others for this area, are available on microfilm which can be viewed at the Family History Library.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the index entry record for future reference. See below for assistance in citing this collection.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and the England Civil Registration records.
  • Continue to search to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation.
  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names. Remember that it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name in a church record. See Abbreviations Found in Genealogy Records for some common examples of abbreviations. Note that some women reverted to their maiden name when their husband died, and therefore could be listed under their maiden name in a will.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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, Kent, Wills and Probate, 1440-1881." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing County Record Office, Maidstone, England.

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
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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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

England, Kent, Wills and Probate (FamilySearch Historical Records)