Derbyshire Probate Records

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England Gotoarrow.png Derbyshire

For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.

Getting Started

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until 1858. Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Post-1857 Probate Records section below contains links to additional information about the records of this court.

To look for a probate record before 1858:

  1. Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
  2. Go to the Court Jurisdictions section below.
  3. Click a letter or span of letters for your place name. This opens a jurisdictions table.
  4. Follow the instructions on the jurisdictions table page.

Derbyshire Probate Courts

Before 1858, probate of estates of deceased persons was handled by ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England. The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over Derbyshire before 1858:

In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England, particularly in cases of:

  • Wealthy individuals
  • People who owned property in more than one county or court's jurisdiction
  • Military and Naval personnel
  • People who lived or owned property outside of England

Appeals Courts

Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:

In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also served as an appeals court.

Some Explanatory Notes on the Derbyshire Probate Courts

Court Jurisdictions

Before 1858, every town and parish in Derbyshire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary ecclesiastical court and one or more secondary ecclesiastical courts.

For an alphabetical list of the parishes of Derbyshire with the pre-1858 courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter of the alphabet that a parish name begins with:  

AB,  C,  D-E,  F-H,  I-L,  M-O,  P-R,  S,  T-V,  W-Z.

Probate Indexes and Calendars

Registered wills and original wills, administrations and inventories, 1494-1860, and, act books, 1532-1638 for Diocese of Lichfield Episcopal Consistory Court [1] These are calendars that cover most of county Derby.

Probate Indexes Online

Before looking for a will, you should search an index. 

A general will index for the Diocese of Lichfield exists online, a scanned edition of P.W. Phillimore's publicationby the British Record Society in 1892,Calendars of wills administrations in the Consistory court of the bishop of Lichfield. This single index consolidates most Staffordshire wills of the various probate court jurisdictions from 1514-1652 for the Diocese of Lichfield and to 1790 for Staffordshire smaller peculiar courts  [2]

Abstracts of Derbyshire Probate Records:

  • Derbyshire wills for the period 1858-1928 (from the Derbyshire Record Office):

  • Derbyshire WILLS, 1525-1928 (browse 35,066 Wills and 5,093 different surnames; pertaining to much more than just people from the parish of Wirksworth):

  • PENTRICH WILLS & PROBATE INDEX (from the Pentrich Historical Society; also includes entries for people in parishes adjacent to Pentrich):

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.

Post-1857 Probate Records

Beginning in 1858, the government took over the settlement of estates and all wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system.  The system consists of 11 district registry offices and 18 sub-district registries, located throughout England and Wales, and the principal registry office located in London.  The records are available through the office of Her Majesty's Courts Service.  To learn more, go to the HMCS website.

A country-wide surname index to the records is available, so it is much easier to look for post-1857 wills.  The indexes for 1858-1957 and the records for the Principal Registry and the District Registries for 1858-1925 are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.