Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory)

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The diocese of Lichfield was one of the largest in England.  Until 1541, it included all of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire, parts of Shropshire, Warwickshire and Lancashire, and a few parishes in Flintshire and one in Denbighshire, Wales.  The creation of the See (Diocese) of Chester in 1541 removed all of Cheshire and the parts of Lancashire and Wales. 

The court was also known as the Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry.

During the Commonwealth Interregnum from 1653 to 1660, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the form of a civil court, had sole probate or testmentary jurisdiction over all of England and Wales.


The original records are deposited at:

Lichfield Record Office (formerly Lichfield Joint Record Office)
The Friary'
Staffs WS13 6QG
Telephone: U.K. 01543 510720
Overseas: (+44) 1543 510720

The records include:

  • Original wills, 1472-1858
  • Register copy wills, 1516-1771
  • Act books, 1532-1638
  • Inventories, 1494-1860
  • Calendars, 1494-1860

The records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and through one of the more than 4,500 family history centers worldwide.  These include:

Obtaining a copy of a probate record:

  1. You may visit the Lichfield Record Office or contact their research service and request a copy of a probate record (include an index reference in your request).
  2. You may visit the Family History Library and search the records on microfilm, or visit a family history center where you can order the films and search them there.
  3. Start your search in indexes.


Surviving wills and administrations have mostly been indexed:

Printed and Online Indexes

  • Phillimore, W. P. W.  Calendars of wills & administrations in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, 1516-1652: also those in the "peculiars" now deposited in the probate registries at Lichfield, Birmingham and Derby, 1529-1652; 1675-1790; 1753-1790.  London: British Record Society, 1892. (WorldCat OCLC number 154289290; FHL book 942 B4b, vol. 7, also on film 0962380 item 2, and fiche 6073725.)  It is also searchable online.

This source gives the name of the deceased and often their residence. An over-all aphabetical index is found at the end.

This publication is available at many major archives in the United Kingdom such as at the Lichfield Record Office, the Society of Genealogists in London, the Borthwick Institute in York, and other archives.

Original Handwritten Indexes

Indexes to wills and administrations exist for the years 1494 to 1860 and are found with the original records at the Lichfield Record Office.  Also, the registered wills are somewhat alpha-ordered in their arrangement.

Microfilmed Indexes at the Family History Library

The original records on microfilm include the handwritten indexes.  Click on the links in the records list above to see their entries in the Family History Library Catalog.

Strategies, Tips, Other?

To view a list of parishes and their respective probate court jurisdiction, see the "Staffordshire Parishes and Their Probate Jurisdictions" on the main page for Staffordshire Probate Records.

When a search of this court's probate records fails to provide the desired probate record, be sure to search the Prerogative Court of the Exchequer of the Archbishop of York as well.