Court of the Bishop of Ely (Episcopal Consistory)
Getting Started: Step by Step
1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will, writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.<br>2. Proceed to the "Probate Records Held in This Archive" (below) to determine what original probate records exist for this court. Also see "Probate Records of This Court in The Family History Library".<br>3. Contact or visit the Cambridge University Library or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send upon request a list of record searchers.<br>4. Visit The Family History Library, or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes to probate records; then with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons also on microfilm via any centers near you.<br>
Indexes are found with the original and microfilmed records as above. In addition, the Family History Library has the following transcripts and indexes:
This ecclesiastical court had pre-1858 jurisdiction over the following:
From 1837, secondary jurisdiction over the parishes in the Archdeaconry of Bedfordshire, which was transferred to the Diocese of Ely in that year.
This court had jurisdiction over the diocese of Ely (most of the upper half of the county).
From 1837, secondary jurisdiction over the parishes in the Archdeaconries of Huntingdon, which was transferred to the Diocese of Ely in that year.
The parish of Emneth.
From 1837, this had secondary jurisdiction over the parishes in the Archdeaconry of Sudbury.
The records include:
- Original wills, 1503-1857
- Registered wills, 1449-1858
- Original administrations, inventories, tuitions, etc., 1662-1858
Records are on microfilm and are available at the Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies service in Cambridge, at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and through family history centers. The Family History Library has the following:
- Wills and administrations of the Diocese of Ely, 1449-1858
- Probate records, 1612-1841 (mostly unregistered administrations, bonds, and inventories)
- Bonds and inventories, 1587-1858
Steps to Find a Will
1. If you do not have access to the Family History Library or a family history center, contact the Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies and request a search of their index to wills for an entry for your ancestor. If they find a reference, they will inform you how to obtain a copy of the will.
2. If you have access to the Family History Library or a family history center, search (or order on microfilm and search) the indexes to this court. If you find a reference to your ancestor's will, go to the library's online catalog entry for the court's probate records (see above), and match the index reference to the film for the correct year and record. For instance, "Index of the probate records of the Consistory Court of Ely, 1449-1858" gives the following reference:
- [sample index reference]
This indicates that [explain the index reference as needed].
3. Go to the library's online catalog entry for Wills and administrations of the Diocese of Ely, 1449-1858 and view the film notes. Browse down the film notes until you come to (as in the case of our example) "[insert the title of the item number]" on film [#]. Go to the film cabinets and retrieve the film, put it on a film reader, and turn to [index reference].
4. If you are using a family history center, use the library's catalog as before, and order the film into the center for your use.
5. The Family History Library and family history centers have copying facilities so you may make a copy of your ancestor's probate record.
- Camp, Anthony J. Wills and Their Whereabouts. London, self published, 1974