Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (Essex and Hertfordshire Division)

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Return to the Essex Probate Records page.

Probate Indexes

 History and Background

The probate records of the Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (Essex & Hertfordshire Division) date from 1431 to 1858 and cover 104 parishes in Essex. The records were transferred to the Diocese of London in 1858 and held there until 1958 when they were transferred back to the Chelmsford County Hall, where they reside today.

Before looking for a will, be certain to search for available indexes. County Essex is well-covered with comprehensive indexes for most of its probate courts as listed below.

Online Indexes

A general will index for Essex County is available online.  This single index consolidates Essex county wills of the various probate court jurisdictions, including the various smaller Peculiar Court jurisdictions into one database.

Printed Indexes

If the indexes on the Internet do not produce possible wills for your ancestors, look in the published indexes listed here.

The Essex County Record Office compiled and published a complete surname index covering wills and administrations from eight Essex County probate courts including this court.  The index is available in three volumes at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:

  • Emmison, F. G., ed.  [Index to] Wills at Chelmsford.  London: s.n., 1961, by the British Record Society.  (FHL book 942 B4b vols. 78, 79 & 84; also on microfilms 0962739 and 0962740, and on microfiche 6073796, 6073797, and 6073802.)

Other handwritten indexes are listed below in the "Indexes" section.  Click on the court name links on the Essex County Probate home page.

Searching for probates in this court

CALENDARS (first-letter-of-surname index) of Wills and Administration Acts are divided in to four calendar books: 

  • Calendar  Vol. 1:  1495-1585
  • Calendar  Vol. 2:  1585-1621
  • Calendar  Vol. 3:  1621-1725
  • Calendar  Vol. 4:  1670-1726
  • Calendar  Vol. 5:  1688-1783
  • Calendar  Vol. 6:  1784-1858

In addition to the general index above, many of the earlier or pre-1585 filmed volumes also contain a separate index to the wills and administrations. For an index to the post-1585 period, search the online  county-wide index at the Essex County Record Office website.

REGISTERED WILLS Registered Wills with alpha indexes preceding the wills date from 1500-1585<br>

Registered Wills (un-indexed) 1667-1858


Original Wills and Administration (Admons) - unindexed - 1583-1652; 1660-1858 <br>

ADMINISTRATIONS (at Essex County Record Office)



Probate and Admininstration Acts 1663-1858 

For determining the Family History Library's microfilmed collection of the Archdeaconry Court of Colchester, see the Family History Library Catalog entry for this court.


The Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (essex & Hertfordshire Division) probate records are well-covered with the following indexes:  

Online indexes

A general will index for Essex County is available & online. This single index consolidates just about all Essex county wills of the various probate court jurisdictions into one database.

Original Handwritten Indexes

Indexes to the Probate Acts of Wills and Administrations (Admons) exist as follows:

  • Registered Wills:                                    1496-1585; 1667-1726
  • Un-Registered Wills:                               1585-1725
  • Wills & Admininstrations:                        1688-1858
  • Calendars (first-letter of surname index)    1495-1858

In addition to the calendars, some of the original (unregistered) wills and the registered wills are alphabetically arranged at the Record Office and are likewise organized on the microfilmed probates for this court at the Family History Library. Visit the Essex County Archives or the Family History Library Catalog under Essex, England to determine availability of records.

Microfilmed Indexes at the Family History Library

Original (Unregistered) Wills and Registered Wills as well as extant indexes for this court are available on microfilm at the Family History Library and may be circulated to each of its satellite Family History Centers (see Court of the Archdeaconry of Essex), or go to Family History Library Catalog entry for this court.

Strategies, Tips, Other?

Administrations for the years 1678 to 1857 are available at the Essex County Record Office, Chelmsford, U.K. The Family History Library has on microfilm, many of the admininstrations (or Admons)&

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

Before looking for a will, you should search an index to more quickly find a probate record for an ancestor.