Difference between revisions of "Berkshire Probate Records"

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== Berkshire Probate Courts  ==
 
== Berkshire Probate Courts  ==
  
Most of Berkshire was under the jurisdiction of the [[Court of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire]], hence the majority of genealogical searches should be in the records of this court and its superior courts, which were the [[Court of the Bishop of Salisbury (Episcopal Consistory)]] until 1836 and the combined [[Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Oxford]] from that time on. In addition, the [[Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury]] was the highest court in the land. The courts should be searched in that order.  
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Most of Berkshire was under the jurisdiction of the [[Court of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire]].  The majority of probate searches will be in the records of this court and its superior courts, which were the [[Court of the Bishop of Salisbury (Episcopal Consistory)]] until 1836 and the combined [[Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Oxford]] from that time on. In addition, the [[Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury]] was the highest court in the land. The courts should be searched in that order.  
  
 
However, the following courts also had some pre-1858 probate jurisdiction within the county. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.  
 
However, the following courts also had some pre-1858 probate jurisdiction within the county. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.  

Revision as of 21:35, 29 September 2009

England Gotoarrow.png Berkshire

For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.

Getting Started

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Post-1857 Probate Records section below contains links to additional information about the records of this court.

To look for a probate record before 1858:

  1. Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
  2. Go to Court Jurisdictions section below.
  3. Click a letter or span of letters for your place name. This opens a jurisdictions table.
  4. Follow the instructions on the jurisdictions table page.


Berkshire Probate Courts

Most of Berkshire was under the jurisdiction of the Court of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire.  The majority of probate searches will be in the records of this court and its superior courts, which were the Court of the Bishop of Salisbury (Episcopal Consistory) until 1836 and the combined Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Oxford from that time on. In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury was the highest court in the land. The courts should be searched in that order.

However, the following courts also had some pre-1858 probate jurisdiction within the county. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.

Some Explanatory Notes on the Berkshire Probate Courts

From the website of the Oxfordshire Record Office:  "Negotiations are at an advanced stage with the Genealogical Society of Utah to digitize all the Oxfordshire Probate Records, 1516-1857.  It is hoped that this will be a joint project with Berkshire Record Office and the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies to digitize all the wills of the three counties.  If successful, the project will involve images of all the wills, inventories, and related documents being placed on a commercial provider’s site, with indexes available through the Record Office sites, and accessed on a pay-per-view basis. Digitization is expected to take place in 2010."

Court Jurisdictions

Before 1858, every parish was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary and several secondary (or superior) courts.  The majority of the Berkshire parishes were under the jurisdiction of the Court of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire, as stated above. 

Click here to see an alphabetical list of Berkshire parishes that were the exceptions, and the courts that had jurisdiction over them.


Probate Indexes Online

Before looking for a will, you should search an index.

http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/heritage/index.php

This catalogue gives access to wills and other probate records of the diocese of Salisbury which used to cover not only Wiltshire but also Berkshire (under certain circumstances) and parts of Dorset and Devon. You can search for people by name, place, occupation and date. The collection covers 1540-1858. Searching the catalogue is FREE. In addition there are digital images for some of the documents (just over 25%) which can be viewed following on-line payment or free of charge by people visiting the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. Wills and inventories give useful information about people’s financial status and property, and also their family relationships and friendships, which make them a wonderful resource for family and local history.


http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/BRKwills/

This is a collection of about 1000 abstracts of probate documents relating to people residing in the neighbourhood of the towns of Hungerford and Wantage in Berkshire. Since Hungerford is on the County boundary there is some spread into Wiltshire and to a lesser extent into Hampshire and Oxfordshire.


Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (1384 - 1858) [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/browse-refine.asp?CatID=6&searchType=browserefine&pagenumber=1&query=*&queryType=1]

Estate Duty Records

Starting in 1796, a tax or death duty was payable on estates over a certain value. Estate duty abstracts may add considerable information not found elsewhere. Between 1813-1858 estate duty indexes may help locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.


Post-1858 Probate Records

Beginning in 1858, the government took over the settlement of estates and all wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system.  The system consists of 11 district registry offices and 18 sub-district registries, located throughout England and Wales, and the principal registry office located in London.  The records are available through the office of Her Majesty's Courts Service.  To learn more, go to the HMCS website.

A country-wide surname index to the records is available, so it is much easier to look for post-1857 wills.  The indexes for 1858-1957 and the records for the Principal Registry and the District Registries for 1858-1925 are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.