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England, Cheshire Probate Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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England, Cheshire, probate records, 1492-1940
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Cheshire,  England
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Location of Cheshire, England
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Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1492-1940
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Cheshire Archives and Local Studies


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection contains an index to probate records of many types from the county of Cheshire for the years 1492-1940. Original records are held at the Cheshire Archives. Probate records are a good source for determining family relationships, and the other information they provide can provide clues to other records which might be found. These records also have relatively good coverage. Even though only about ten percent of the population ever left a will, it is estimated that approximately a quarter of the population was mentioned in wills.

  • Probate records document the transfer of possessions after death; this process requires several types of record to be kept.
  • Wills ensure that the property and personal estate of a deceased are distributed according to their wishes.
  • Act books are brief paragraphs telling that the executor has appeared in court and is approved to distribute the goods as set forth in the will.
  • Administrations are documents created when a person died without leaving a will.

Those who had land or money and who were heads of their household created wills. After 1837, anyone over the age of 21 could leave a will; before this, men as young as 14 and women as young as 12 could leave a will. Non-widowed married women rarely left wills, as they were not allowed to own property until 1882.

For more information on the history and significance of probate records, see the England Probate Records page.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

This collection is an index only. Information extracted is limited.

Actual images of the records may contain:

Before 1858

  • Names of relatives receiving an inheritance
  • Names of executor(s)
  • Itemization of household goods and property
  • Date will was written
  • Date will was probated
  • Amounts of money and goods
  • Location where the deceased lived
  • Listing of any debt or funeral expenses to be paid
  • Property names

Included after 1858

  • Name of individual
  • Location where the deceased lived
  • Names of beneficiaries (usually surviving spouse and children)
  • Name of executor(s)
  • Names of witnesses
  • Date the will was probated
  • Place where will was probated
  • Relative or relatives present at the time of death

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Record[edit | edit source]

John Smith England, Cheshire Probate Records
Name John Smith
Residence Place Bramhall
Occupation Husbandman
Event Date 1668
Schedule Type Admon Inventory
Note INFRA

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the person
  • A general date range for the record

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

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

Important: After you have found the person you are looking for in the index, take note of the information. Go to the FamilySearch Catalog and find the collection title corresponding to your results (based on year and alphabet). Click on the camera icon to go to the actual images. From there you will need to browse through the images until you find the person you are looking for. The records should be in alphabetical order. The image will give you much more information.

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use a Probate record to identify adoptions, guardians, heirs and relatives
  • Use a will to approximate a death date, then find a death certificate
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records for earlier years
  • Use the information to locate census, christenings, marriage and land records
  • Use the occupations to find employment or military records
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records
  • Try searching records of a nearby locality
    • Lancashire to the north
    • Derbyshire to the east
    • Staffordshire or Shropshire to the south
    • Welsh counties of Denbighshire and Flintshire to the west
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try searching based on how the name may have been pronounced
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Cheshire.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

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:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

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.