Cornwall Probate Records
For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.
Cornwall Probate Courts
The following probate courts had some jurisdiction over the county of Cornwall prior to 1858:
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Cornwall
- Episcopal Consistory Court of Exeter
- Court of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean of St. Buryan
Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury
In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England. Wealthier individuals, people who owned property in more than one county or lower court's jurisdiction, people who died overseas but owned property in Britain, and Naval personnel often had their estates proven through the Archbishop's court.
Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:
Some Explanatory Notes on the Cornwall Probate Courts
Before 1858, every town and parish in Cornwall was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. When looking for the will of an ancestor who lived or owned property in Cornwall, search the courts in the order given. Search indexes first. To find indexes, click on the name of a court.
Here is a list of the Cornwall parishes beginning with letters A and the pre-1858 courts that had jurisdiction over them. For other parishes, click on the link for the first letter of the parish name: B, C, D-K, L, M-O, P-R, S, T-Z.
|PARISH||PRIMARY COURT||SECONDARY COURTS - IN SEARCH ORDER|
|Advent||Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Cornwall||2 - Court of the Bishop of Exeter (Episcopal Consistory)|
|Altarnon||Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Cornwall||2 - Court of the Bishop of Exeter (Episcopal Consistory)|
|Antony||Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Cornwall||2 - Court of the Bishop of Exeter (Episcopal Consistory)|
Probate Indexes Online
Before looking for a will, you should search an index.
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~sterth/wills_by_name_ac.htm (Cornish Will Abstracts 1690 - 1859)
http://webs.lanset.com/azazella/cornish_database.html (Cornish Genealogy Database, for surnames from the parishes in the south-west of Cornwall – the Penwith district and peninsula with its government seat in Penzance, and the Kerrier district and Lizard peninsula with its government seat in Camborne.)
http://members.iimetro.com.au/%7erosewarne/probate1.PDF (Cornish Probate Records, selected surnames, A – M)
http://members.iimetro.com.au/%7erosewarne/probate2.PDF (Cornish Probate Records, selected surnames, N – Z)
Post-1857 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 1858-1925 are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.