Court of the Bishop of Lincoln (Episcopal Consistory)

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England Gotoarrow.png Bedfordshire Probate Records, Lincolnshire Probate Records

Description

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.

Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry.


Step By Step 

1. If you do not have access to the Family History Library or a family history center, contact the Lincolnshire Archives Office 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 the court with jurisdiction over your parish of interest. 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, "Will index vol. 9-11, 1766-1857," on film #0198799, gives the following reference:

  • 1784, Brumley, William - Barton 

This indicates that William Brumley of Barton died and left a will proven in 1784.

3. Go to the library's online catalog entry for Wills and administrations of the Episcopal Consistory Court of Lincoln, England, 1506-1857 for the Court of the Bishop of Lincoln and view the film notes. Browse down the film notes until you come to (as in the case of our example) "Registered wills v. 263, 1784" on film #0199069. Go to the film cabinets and retrieve the film, put it on a film reader, and turn to the will in alphabetical order.

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.

Indexes

Online Indexes

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.


Printed and Published Indexes

The Family History Library has indexes including:

The library's holdings of probate records for Lincolnshire are listed in the Family History Library Catalog by using the Place Search for:

  • England, Lincoln - Probate records
  • England, Lincoln - Probate records - Indexes

Records

Archive Location

The original records are in the collection of the Lincolnshire Archives Office in the city of Lincoln. 

Archive Records

Add information about the manuscript, printed and digital records in this location.

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.

Family History Library Records

The records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library and through family history centers.  These include:

Jurisdiction

Lincolnshire

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 Stow 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 Stow (see also the Court of the Archdeaconry of Stow).

Bedfordshire

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

Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire

This court also had superior jurisdiction over the peculiar courts of Aylesbury and Buckingham (Lincoln prebends in the county of Buckingham), and the peculiar courts of Banbury, Bierton, Thame, Cropredy, King's Sutton, and Horley and Hornton (in the county of Oxford), which were under the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln.

Huntingdonshire

From 1479-1609, this court had superior jurisdiction over the parishes under the primary jurisdiction of the Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of Lincoln and of the Archdeacon in the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon, except for the prebends. It continued to have superior jurisiction over many Huntingdonshire parishes until the end of 1857.