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.

1850 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 Sussex, follow these steps:

Step 1. Search indexes

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 whether the place where your ancestor lived or died is a parish. To learn whether it is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here are links to gazetteers online.

  1. Go to the 'Pre-1858 Court Jurisdictions by Parish' section below to learn what courts had jurisdiction over the place, and follow the instructions.

For information on post-1857 probate records, scroll down to that section below.

Pre-1858 Court Jurisdictions by Parish

every town and parish in Derbyshire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary ecclesiastical (Church of England) court and one or more secondary ecclesiastical courtsMost of the county 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, which also was the highest court in the country. However there were exceptions.

Click here for an alphabetical list of the parishes of Derbyshire that were exceptions to the norm. If you do not find your place in the list of exceptions, then click below on the courts mentioned above.

Derbyshire Probate Courts

The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over Derbyshire before 1858. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.

In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole 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:

The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also served as an appeals court.

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.

  • 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):

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