Court of the Bishop of Lincoln (Episcopal Consistory)
The Archdeaconry of Bedfordshire was in the Diocese of Lincoln until 1837. Therefore before that time, the Court of the Bishop of Lincoln (Episcopal Consistory) had secondary jurisdiction over the whole of Bedfordshire except the peculiars of Biggleswade and Leighton Buzzard.
The Diocese of Lincoln (which has existed since before 1088 and was at that time one of the largest diocese in England) covers the whole of Lincolnshire and most of Nottinghamshire. After the Reformation [in the 1530's during the reign of Henry VIII], it was divided into the Archdeaconries of Lincoln and Stowe in Lincolnshire, and the Archdeaconry of Nottingham. The Archdeaconry of Lincoln covered the largest portion of that county. The Court of the Bishop of Lincoln had primary probate jurisdiction in the Archdeaconry of Lincoln and secondary jurisdiction in the Archdeaconry of Stowe (see also the Court of the Archdeacon of Stowe).
This court also had superior jurisdiction over the peculiar courts of Aylesbury and Buckingham (Lincoln prebends), and the peculiar courts of Banbury, Bierton, Thame, Cropredy, King's Sutton, and Horley and Hornton, which were under the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln.
The original records are in the collection of the Lincolnshire Archives Office in the city of Lincoln. The records include:
- Original and register copy wills, 1506-1858
- Act books, 1553-1701
- Administrations, 1540-1857
- Inventories, 1508-1831
For research assistance, contact the archives office.
The records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library and through family history centers. These include:
The Lincolnshire Archives Office has an index to Lincolnshire wills, 1701-1800, in PDF format that can be searched online, and other indexes to probate records.
The Family History Library has indexes including:
- Indexes on the films with the records (see above).
- Various published indexes including:
- Calendars of Lincoln wills, 1320-1659
- Index of Lincoln Consistory Court wills and inventories, 1660-1700
- Lincolnshire Archives index of Lincoln Consistory Court wills, 1801-1858 (on microfiche)
- Calendars of administrations in the Consistory Court of Lincoln, 1540-1659
- A Wills beneficiary index
The library's holdings of probate records for Lincolnshire are listed in the Family History Library catalog under 'England, Lincoln - Probate records' and 'England, Lincoln - Probate records - Indexes.'