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''[[England]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[County Durham|Durham]]''  
 
''[[England]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[County Durham|Durham]]''  
  
The following article is about probate records in the county of Durham. To read general information about English probate records click [[England Probate Records|here]].  
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== Getting Started  ==
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''Probate'' is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include [[W genealogical glossary terms|wills]] and [[A genealogical glossary terms|administrations]]. This article is about probate records in Durham. See [[England Probate Records]] for a general description of probate records in England.
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=== 1858 to the Present  ===
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Beginning in 1858, the [[Principal Probate Registry|Principal Probate Registry]] had the authority for probating estates. Click on the link to learn more.  
  
== Getting Started ==
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=== Before 1858 ===
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Before 1858, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Durham, follow these steps:
 +
 
 +
==== Step 1. Search Indexes  ====
 +
 
 +
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Durham. Search these indexes first:
  
''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 to 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.
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*[http://familyrecords.dur.ac.uk/nei/ Durham and Northumberland probate records, 1527-1857]. The planned completion date is 2010. Index is wonderful!
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*Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/wills.asp?WT.hp=Wills 1383-1858]
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*[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=1928667&disp=Sunderland+wills+and+inventories+1601%2D Sunderland Wills and Invetories Transcribed 1601-1650 with 90 probate records]
  
To look for a probate record before 1858:<br>
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<br><br>Did you find a reference to a probate record?
  
#Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived. <br>
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*If ''yes'', go to '''Step 4''' below.  
#Go to [https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Durham_Probate_Records#Court_Jurisdictions Court Jurisdictions] section below.<br>
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*If ''no'', go to '''Step 2''' below.
#Click a letter or span of letters for your place name. This opens a jurisdictions table.<br>
 
#Follow the instructions on the jurisdictions table page.<br>
 
  
== Durham Probate Courts ==
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==== Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died ====
  
The following court had jurisdiction over county Durham before 1858.  
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Determine ''when'' your ancestor died.&nbsp;If you aren't sure, use an approximate date.&nbsp;
  
*[[Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory)]]<br>
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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 [[P genealogical glossary terms|parish]]. To learn whether it is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here is a link to the 1872 ''Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales'' online:
*[[Exchequer and Prerogative Courts of the Archbishop of York]]  
 
*[[Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of York]]
 
*[[Chancery Court of the Archbishop of York]]
 
  
The [[Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury]] hadjurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.
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*[http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/descriptions/index.jsp Vision of Britain]
  
#Wealthy individuals
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The gazetteer will either tell you:
#People who owned property in more than one county
 
#Military and naval personnel
 
#People who lived or owned property outside England <br>
 
  
==== Appeals Courts  ====
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*A place is a parish, or
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*What parish it is a part of, or
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*What place it is near.
  
Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:
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If the latter, look that place up in the gazetteer and see if it is a parish.
  
*[[Court of Arches]]
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Once you have identified the parish, go to '''Step 3'''.
*[[High Court of Delegates]]
 
  
The [[Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury]] also served as an appeals court.
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==== Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish  ====
  
== Some Explanatory Notes on the Courts of Durham  ==
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Once you have identified the parish where your ancestor lived or died, learn which courts had jurisdiction over it then search indexes for those courts. Every town and parish in Durham fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. Click on a link below for the letter the parish begins with.
  
The earliest original wills for Durham date from 1540, but there are some registered copy wills for 1526-1534. There are earlier records filed with the superior courts, some dating back to 1311, in the bishop's general serices of act books. There are gaps in the records for early periods; others in poor condition.  
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<br>The whole of the county of Durham was under the primary jurisdiction of the [[Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory)|Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory)]]. This court should be searched first when looking for the probate of a deceased person who lived or owned property in Durham. Additional courts listed below also had jurisdiction over Durham. If you do not find a probate in the Court of the Bishop of Durham, search those additional courts.<br>
  
Inventories were prevalent from the earliest period through th efirst quarter of the 18th century. They may be filed with the administration bonds as well as with the original wills. Registered copies are usually indexed and arranged chronologically. Page numbers appear in the upper right corner and testators' names are frequently written in the margins. There may be an inventory written at the end of the copy will and almost always there will be a probate act in Latin indicating when the will was proven.<br>
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==== Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record  ====
  
== Court Jurisdictions by Parish<br> ==
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Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:
  
The whole of the county of Durham was under the primary jurisdiction of the Court of the Bishop of Durham also known as the Episcopal Consistory Court of Durham. This court should be searched first when looking for the probate of a deceased person who lived or owned property in Durham. Additional courts listed above also had jurisdiction over Durham. If you do not find a probate in the Court of the Bishop of Durham, search those courts.&nbsp;
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*Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.
  
If you haven't found a will, search the&nbsp;appeals courts listed above. Information about these courts is in the [[England Probate Records|England Probate Records]] page.&nbsp;
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*Visit the [https://www.familysearch.org/#form=catalog Family History Library ]or a [[Introduction to LDS Family History Centers|family history center]] and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below. <br>
  
== Probate Indexes Online ==
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== Durham Probate Courts ==
  
*[http://familyrecords.dur.ac.uk/nei/ Durham and Northumberland probate records, 1527-1857]. The planned completion date is summer 2009.
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The following court had jurisdiction over county Durham before 1858.  
  
Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills 1383-1858
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*[[Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory)]]<br>
[http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/wills.asp?WT.hp=Wills]
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*[[Exchequer and Prerogative Courts of the Archbishop of York]]
 +
*[[Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of York]]
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*[[Chancery Court of the Archbishop of York]]
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*[[Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury]]
  
== Estate Duty Records<br> ==
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== Some Explanatory Notes on the Courts of Durham ==
  
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. Between 1796-1858 estate duty indexes may help locate a will. For more information, go to [[Estate Duty Records]].<br>
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The earliest original wills for Durham date from 1540, but there are some registered copy wills for 1526-1534. There are earlier records filed with the superior courts, some dating back to 1311, in the bishop's general serices of act books. There are gaps in the records for early periods; others in poor condition.  
  
== Post-1857 Probate Records  ==
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Inventories were prevalent from the earliest period through th efirst quarter of the 18th century. They may be filed with the administration bonds as well as with the original wills. Registered copies are usually indexed and arranged chronologically. Page numbers appear in the upper right corner and testators' names are frequently written in the margins. There may be an inventory written at the end of the copy will and almost always there will be a probate act in Latin indicating when the will was proven.<br>
  
Beginning in 1858, the government took over the&nbsp;settlement of estates and all&nbsp;wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system. For more information, go to [[Principal Probate Registry]].<br>
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{{Place|Durham|Probate Records}}
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{{England Probate Records}}
  
{{Place|Durham}}
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{{Template:Pros-NEE}}  
  
[[Category:Durham|Probate Records]]
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[[Category:Durham|Probate]]
[[Category:Probate records in England]]
 

Revision as of 15:10, 7 May 2013

England Gotoarrow.png Durham

Getting Started

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include wills and administrations. This article is about probate records in Durham. See England Probate Records for a general description of probate records in England.

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 Durham, follow these steps:

Step 1. Search Indexes

Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Durham. Search these indexes first:



Did you find a reference to a probate record?

  • If yes, go to Step 4 below.
  • If no, go to Step 2 below.

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 is a link to the 1872 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales online:

The gazetteer will either tell you:

  • A place is a parish, or
  • What parish it is a part of, or
  • What place it is near.

If the latter, look that place up in the gazetteer and see if it is a parish.

Once you have identified the 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 then search indexes for those courts. Every town and parish in Durham fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. Click on a link below for the letter the parish begins with.


The whole of the county of Durham was under the primary jurisdiction of the Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory). This court should be searched first when looking for the probate of a deceased person who lived or owned property in Durham. Additional courts listed below also had jurisdiction over Durham. If you do not find a probate in the Court of the Bishop of Durham, search those additional courts.

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.

Durham Probate Courts

The following court had jurisdiction over county Durham before 1858.

Some Explanatory Notes on the Courts of Durham

The earliest original wills for Durham date from 1540, but there are some registered copy wills for 1526-1534. There are earlier records filed with the superior courts, some dating back to 1311, in the bishop's general serices of act books. There are gaps in the records for early periods; others in poor condition.

Inventories were prevalent from the earliest period through th efirst quarter of the 18th century. They may be filed with the administration bonds as well as with the original wills. Registered copies are usually indexed and arranged chronologically. Page numbers appear in the upper right corner and testators' names are frequently written in the margins. There may be an inventory written at the end of the copy will and almost always there will be a probate act in Latin indicating when the will was proven.