Derbyshire Probate Records

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Getting Started

Probate is the legal process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. This article is about probate records in Derbyshire. For a general description of England probate records, click here.

1858 to the Present

Beginning in 1858, the Principal Probate Registry had the authority for probating estates. Click on the link to learn more.

Before 1858

Before 1858, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Derbyshire, follow these steps:

Step 1. Search indexes

  • An index for 1650-1730 for Derbyshire including almost 19000 probate documents can be found at Will and administrations This index covers most of the county for the Consistory Court of Lichfield.

Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died

Determine when your ancestor died. If you aren't sure, use an approximate date.

Determine where your ancestor died. It is easier to find a probate record if you know the parish where your ancestor lived or died. To learn whether the place you have is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here are links to a gazetteer online:

  • Vision of Britain

Once you identified a parish, go to Step 3.

Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish

Once you have identified the parish where your ancestor lived or died, learn which courts had jurisdiction over it. Every town and parish in Derbyshire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and one or more secondary courts. Most of the county of Derbyshire was under the primary jurisdiction of the Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory) and the secondary jurisdiction of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

However there were exceptions. Click here for an alphabetical list of the parishes of Derbyshire that were exceptions. If you do not find your place in the list of exceptions, then search the records of the above courts by clicking on the name of the court either in the paragraph above or the section below where the court is mentioned.  Follow the steps given on the page for the court to find a will that was probated in that court. 

Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record

Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:

  • Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.
  • Visit the Family History Library or a family history center and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below.

Derbyshire Probate Courts

Here is a list of the courts that had probate jurisdiction over Derbyshire before 1858. For more information, click on a court name.

Probate Indexes

Before looking for a will, you should search an index. Here is a list of some indexes. Others will be listed in each court's article.

Estate Duty Records

Starting in 1796, a tax or death duty was payable on estates over a certain value. Estate duty abstracts may add considerable information not found elsewhere. Estate duty indexes may help you locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.

Probates After 1857

Online Databases

Transcription Done by Micheal Spencer through the Wirksworth Parish Records Project:

Ordering Wills from the Derbyshire Record Office