Difference between revisions of "England Probates: Locating the Records"

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3. Click '''England''' to bring up a list of topics.  
 
3. Click '''England''' to bring up a list of topics.  
  
4. Scroll down and click the topic [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=topicdetails&subject=329748&subject_disp=England+-+Probate+records&columns=*,0,0 '''Probate Records'''].  
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4. Scroll down and click the topic {{FHL|329748|subject-id|disp='''Probate Records'''}}.  
  
 
5. Scroll down and click one of the following titles:  
 
5. Scroll down and click one of the following titles:  
  
*[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=517092&disp=Record+copy+wills+for+the+Principal+Regi%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Record copy wills for the Principal Registry, 1858-1925]
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*{{FHL|517092|title-id|disp=Record copy wills for the Principal Registry, 1858-1925}}
*[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=580487&disp=Record+copy+wills+from+the+District+Prob%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Record copy wills from the District Probate Registries, 1858-1899]
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*{{FHL|580487|title-id|disp=Record copy wills from the District Probate Registries, 1858-1899}}
*[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=443192&disp=Record+copy+wills+from+the+District+Prob%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Record copy wills from the District Probate Registries, 1900-1925]
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*{{FHL|443192|title-id|disp=Record copy wills from the District Probate Registries, 1900-1925}}
  
 
6. Click '''View Film Notes''' in the top right corner to see the film numbers.<br>  
 
6. Click '''View Film Notes''' in the top right corner to see the film numbers.<br>  
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An extensive collection of probate indexes are part of the following work:  
 
An extensive collection of probate indexes are part of the following work:  
  
''The Index Library''. London, England: British Record Society, 1888– (Family History Library book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titlehitlist&callno=942+B4b&first=1&last=100&columns=*,0,0 942 B4b]).A listing of ''The Index Library'' volumes is available at the [http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelpsubject/history/history/artsandhumanitiesbritishrecordsocietyindexlibrary/brsindex.html British Library website].<br>  
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''The Index Library''. London, England: British Record Society, 1888– (Family History Library book {{FHL||disp=942 B4b}}).A listing of ''The Index Library'' volumes is available at the [http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelpsubject/history/history/artsandhumanitiesbritishrecordsocietyindexlibrary/brsindex.html British Library website].<br>  
  
 
The records of the '''Prerogative Court of Canterbury''', for&nbsp;1384-1858, are indexed online through the website of the National Archives of&nbsp;the United Kingdom&nbsp;and their feature [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/ DocumentsOnline].  
 
The records of the '''Prerogative Court of Canterbury''', for&nbsp;1384-1858, are indexed online through the website of the National Archives of&nbsp;the United Kingdom&nbsp;and their feature [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/ DocumentsOnline].  
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The indexes to these records are useful for locating wills and administrations probated between these dates, even if you do not know your ancestor’s residence. The registers from 1796 to 1903 have been indexed on [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/death-duty.asp DocumentsOnline]. The indexes for the same time period can also be searched on [http://www.findmypast.com/DeathDutySearchCountServlet FindMyPast]. <br>  
 
The indexes to these records are useful for locating wills and administrations probated between these dates, even if you do not know your ancestor’s residence. The registers from 1796 to 1903 have been indexed on [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/death-duty.asp DocumentsOnline]. The indexes for the same time period can also be searched on [http://www.findmypast.com/DeathDutySearchCountServlet FindMyPast]. <br>  
  
Indexes are on microfilm in the Family History Library. Click on one of the following links to find the film numbers in the catalog. [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=534228&disp=Death+duty+register+for+abstracts+of+adm%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Death duty register for abstracts of administrations and probates of wills for country courts, 1796-1811]. <br>  
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Indexes are on microfilm in the Family History Library. Click on one of the following links to find the film numbers in the catalog. {{FHL|534228|title-id|disp=Death duty register for abstracts of administrations and probates of wills for country courts, 1796-1811}}. <br>  
  
[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=613685&disp=Death+duty+register+for+abstracts+of+adm%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Abstracts of administrations in the country courts, 1812-1857].<br>  
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{{FHL|613685|title-id|disp=Abstracts of administrations in the country courts, 1812-1857}}.<br>  
  
[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=522838&disp=Death+duty+register+for+wills+in+the+Pre%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1796-1811; and administrations, 1796-1857].<br>  
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{{FHL|522838|title-id|disp=Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1796-1811; and administrations, 1796-1857}}.<br>  
  
[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=817853&disp=Index+to+death+duty+registers+in+the+Est%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Index to death duty registers in the Estate Duty Office, 1812-1903]<br>  
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{{FHL|817853|title-id|disp=Index to death duty registers in the Estate Duty Office, 1812-1903}}<br>  
  
 
Films may be viewed at the library or ordered through a [http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHC/frameset_fhc.asp family history center].  
 
Films may be viewed at the library or ordered through a [http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHC/frameset_fhc.asp family history center].  
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Many probate records from the counties of Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall were destroyed during World War II. For these and others counties are available at the Family History Library.&nbsp;Click on one of the following links to find the film numbers in the catalog.  
 
Many probate records from the counties of Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall were destroyed during World War II. For these and others counties are available at the Family History Library.&nbsp;Click on one of the following links to find the film numbers in the catalog.  
  
[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titlefilmnotes&columns=*%2C0%2C0&titleno=534228&disp=Death+duty+register+for+abstracts+of+adm++ Death duty register for abstracts of administrations and probates of wills for country courts, 1796-1811].  
+
{{FHL|534228|title-id|disp=Death duty register for abstracts of administrations and probates of wills for country courts, 1796-1811}}.  
  
[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=613685&disp=Death+duty+register+for+abstracts+of+adm%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Abstracts of administrations in the country courts, 1812-1857].  
+
{{FHL|613685|title-id|disp=Abstracts of administrations in the country courts, 1812-1857}}.  
  
[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=522838&disp=Death+duty+register+for+wills+in+the+Pre%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1796-1811; and administrations, 1796-1857].  
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{{FHL|522838|title-id|disp=Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1796-1811; and administrations, 1796-1857}}.  
  
[http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=817853&disp=Index+to+death+duty+registers+in+the+Est%20%20&columns=*,0,0 Index to death duty registers in the Estate Duty Office, 1812-1903]
+
{{FHL|817853|title-id|disp=Index to death duty registers in the Estate Duty Office, 1812-1903}}
  
 
Films may be viewed at the library or ordered through a family history center.  
 
Films may be viewed at the library or ordered through a family history center.  
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For pre-1858 probate records, the following sources list dates and repositories where you may write for records not available at the Library:  
 
For pre-1858 probate records, the following sources list dates and repositories where you may write for records not available at the Library:  
  
Camp, Anthony J. ''Wills and Their Whereabouts''. Fourth Edition. London, England: Anthony J. Camp, 1974. (Family History Library book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titlehitlist&columns=*%2C0%2C0&callno=942+S2wa 942 S2wa].) This book describes jurisdictions and lists records, time periods covered, and availability of indexes by repository.  
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Camp, Anthony J. ''Wills and Their Whereabouts''. Fourth Edition. London, England: Anthony J. Camp, 1974. (Family History Library book {{FHL|942 S2wa|disp=942 S2wa}}.) This book describes jurisdictions and lists records, time periods covered, and availability of indexes by repository.  
  
Gibson, J. S. W. ''A Simplified Guide to Probate Jurisdictions: Where to Look for Wills''. Third Edition. Solihull, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Limited, 1985, updated 1988. (Family History Library &nbsp;book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titlehitlist&columns=*%2C0%2C0&callno=942+P23g 942 P23g] 1985.) This lists probate courts and records with the location of and dates covered by original records.  
+
Gibson, J. S. W. ''A Simplified Guide to Probate Jurisdictions: Where to Look for Wills''. Third Edition. Solihull, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Limited, 1985, updated 1988. (Family History Library &nbsp;book {{FHL|942 P23g|disp=942 P23g}} 1985.) This lists probate courts and records with the location of and dates covered by original records.  
  
Gibson, J. S. W. ''Wills and Where to Find Them''. Chichester, England: Phillimore and Company, Limited, 1974. (Family History Library&nbsp;book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titlehitlist&columns=*%2C0%2C0&callno=942+S2gw 942 S2gw].) This discusses probates by county with a list of courts, records, and records offices. Includes basic maps and glossary.  
+
Gibson, J. S. W. ''Wills and Where to Find Them''. Chichester, England: Phillimore and Company, Limited, 1974. (Family History Library&nbsp;book {{FHL|942 S2gw|disp=942 S2gw}}.) This discusses probates by county with a list of courts, records, and records offices. Includes basic maps and glossary.  
  
 
== Difficulties in Locating a Pre-1858 Record  ==
 
== Difficulties in Locating a Pre-1858 Record  ==
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Technically, church courts did not have jurisdiction over real property. Some wills and many disputes over real property were handled by the Chancery Court of England. Some of the wills in this and other national courts are listed in:  
 
Technically, church courts did not have jurisdiction over real property. Some wills and many disputes over real property were handled by the Chancery Court of England. Some of the wills in this and other national courts are listed in:  
  
''A List of Wills, Administrations, etc.'' in the Public Record Office, London, England: 12th–19th Century. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Magna Carta Book Company, 1968. (Family History Library book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=426785&disp=A+List+of+wills%2C+administrations%2C+et%20%20&columns=*,0,0 942 S2po].)  
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''A List of Wills, Administrations, etc.'' in the Public Record Office, London, England: 12th–19th Century. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Magna Carta Book Company, 1968. (Family History Library book {{FHL|426785|title-id|disp=942 S2po}}.)  
  
 
An entirely different court may have been used for the convenience of the executor.  
 
An entirely different court may have been used for the convenience of the executor.  

Revision as of 07:31, 7 January 2011

Determining the Pre-1858 Court Jurisdiction

There are several probate courts having jurisidiction in an English county. Articles in this Wiki will tell you how to discover the names of the courts having jurisdiction over your place, and details about the records. To find one of these articles, type the [Name of the County] Probate Records in the search box. For example, if you want to learn about probates in Cumberland, search for the title Cumberland Probate Records. 

Call numbers for the records in the Family History Library can be found in the library's catalog.  For a current listing of probate records and indexes, follow these instructions.

  1. Go to the catalog and click Place Search.
  2. Type the name of the county in the "Place" box and England in the "Part of" box, and click Search.
  3. Click the locality.
  4. Scroll down and click the topic Probate Records or Probate Records-Indexes.
  5. Click a title on the Topic Details screen for a court.
  6. Click the View Film Notes button in the top right corner to find the film number. If the button isn't there, the item isn't on film and a book number will be given.

A court may also be determined by using the sources listed under the heading "Records Not at the Family History Library" in this section. From 1796 to 1858, Estate Duty Indexes can be used to determine the court (see the heading, "Indexes" that follows for more information).

Ecclesiastical jurisdictions, which help determine the court, are given in Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of England (see the Gazetteers article) and Frank Smith’s A Genealogical Gazetteer of England.

For more information, see sections below: Indexes; and Finding Records in the Family History Library.

Post-1857 Probate Courts

On 12 January 1858, a network of civil courts called probate registries replaced ecclesiastical probate courts. All wills and administrations are probated in the district courts or in the Principal Registry, the central court in London. The Principal Probate Registry received copies of all the probates from the district courts.

Wills and administrations are easy to search for after 1857 because the calendar is in alphabetical order by last name for the entire country. The calendar, a type of index, includes:

  • Name of the deceased.
  • Address of last residence.
  • Name of the executor or executrix.
  • Amount of the estate.

To learn more, read leaflets from The National Archives titled Probate Records and Wills and Death Duty Records, after 1858.

The Family History Library has film copies of the indexes,1858-1957 and wills, 1858-1925. Films can be viewed in the library or in family history centers. Search the Family History Library Catalog to find the film numbers.

1. Go to the catalog and click Place Search.

2. Type England and click Search.

3. Click England to bring up a list of topics.

4. Scroll down and click the topic Probate Records.

5. Scroll down and click one of the following titles:

6. Click View Film Notes in the top right corner to see the film numbers.

The HMCS website has a list of frequently asked questions about obtaining copies of probate records and The National Archives has produced a guide to these records. Two record offices in England have copies of these records. Find addresses by click here. Some record offices and local studies centers have indexes. To see a partial list, click here.

Estate Duty Wills and Administrations

Starting in 1796, a tax or death duty was payable on many estates with a certain value. The amount levied varied according to the relationship of the beneficiary to the deceased. Very small estates and those who died serving their country were excluded from paying the required duty. Estate duty abstracts may add considerable information not found elsewhere. They can show the bame, address and last occupation of the deceased; and the names the beneficiaries and their relationship to the deceased. These records are especially helpful for counties Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, since many of the records for the probate courts in those areas were destroyed during World War II.

A register could be annotated for many years, possibly listing date of death of the spouse, marriage and death dates of beneficiaries, births of children or grandchildren born after the duty was paid, and cross references to other entries.

The estate duty registers were grouped into two sections, the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and a number of district courts, collectively referred to as country courts.

The Family History Library has copies of the Estate Duty wills and administrations. They can be viewed in the library or in a family history center. To find film numbers,

  1. Go to the catalog and click Place Search.
  2. Type England and click Search.
  3. Scroll down and click the topic Probate Records.
  4. Scroll down and click one of the titles that begin with Death Duty Register....
  5. Click View Film Notes in the top right corner to see the list of films.

Unless you are sure the name of the court, search the indexes for the district courts as well as the principal registry. Read more about these records in the research guides produced by The National Archives in England.
Death Duty Records, From 1796.
How to Interpret Death Duty Registers.

Locating Probate Records

There are three steps to locating probate records.

  • Determine when and where the will might have been proved.
  • Determine the court or courts that had jurisdiction.
  • Search the indexes and records of the court or courts.

Indexes

Ecclesiastical Courts (pre 1858)

Some court records have published indexes. Others have handwritten indexes filmed with the records. The index is often a "calendar", a list organized by date with a separate section for each letter of the alphabet. Surnames with the same first letter are listed together but are not in alphabetical order.

An extensive collection of probate indexes are part of the following work:

The Index Library. London, England: British Record Society, 1888– (Family History Library book INVALID/MISSING FHL number).A listing of The Index Library volumes is available at the British Library website.

The records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, for 1384-1858, are indexed online through the website of the National Archives of the United Kingdom and their feature DocumentsOnline.

Other repositories and organizations, including family history societies, have created and published indexes, some online and some as booklets or on microfiche. To view a partial list, go to Your Archives. For those available in the Family History Library, go to the library's catalog and do a Place search for your county of interest and the topic of Probate Records.

http://www.originsnetwork.com/help/popup-aboutbo-pcc.htm

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Index 1750-1800
http://www.originsnetwork.com/help/popup-aboutbo-boe.htm

Bank of England Will Extracts Index 1717-1845
For links to other online indexes, go to the GENUKI website and click on the links for your county of interest and the topic of Probate Records.

Principal Probate Registry (1858-1957)

<Under construction>

An index to wills, called the National Probate Calendar, is on fiche or film at The National Archives, Society of Genealogists, and the Guildhall Library, London. It indexes to all wills and administrations up to 1943.

Indexes and abstracts for the Principal Probate Registry, 1858 to 1957, are on film in the Family History Library.

Index film numbers are found in the Library's catalog.  Use the Place search for England and the topic of Probate Records--Indexes.  The record title is Calendar of the grants of probate and letters of administration made in the Principal Registry.

The films may be viewed in the library or ordered through a family history center.

Estate Duty Wills and Administrations

The indexes to these records are useful for locating wills and administrations probated between these dates, even if you do not know your ancestor’s residence. The registers from 1796 to 1903 have been indexed on DocumentsOnline. The indexes for the same time period can also be searched on FindMyPast.

Indexes are on microfilm in the Family History Library. Click on one of the following links to find the film numbers in the catalog. Death duty register for abstracts of administrations and probates of wills for country courts, 1796-1811.

Abstracts of administrations in the country courts, 1812-1857.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1796-1811; and administrations, 1796-1857.

Index to death duty registers in the Estate Duty Office, 1812-1903

Films may be viewed at the library or ordered through a family history center.

Will Beneficiaries

Some estimate that only 5-10% of the population left a will. Those persons named in a will, a beneficiary, account for a much larger portion of the population. A few indexes are being made available that identify the persons mentioned in wills. For a list of know indexes to will beneficiaries read on...

Finding Probate Records in the Family History Library

Ecclesiastical Courts (pre-1858)

The Family History Library has a large collection of probate records. Follow these instructions to find them.

  1. Go to the Family History Library Catalog and click Place Search.
  2. Type the name of a county in the first box. Type England in the second box.
  3. Click Search.
  4. Click on the link for the locality you want.
  5. Scroll down the list of topics, and click Probate records.
  6. Click on an appropriate title.
  7. Click View Film Notes in the top right corner to see the film numbers.

Principal Probate Registry

The actual wills are on microfilm for 1858 through 1925 and are listed in the Family History Library Catalog. Do a Place search for England and the topic of Probate Records. The record titles begin "Record copy wills..." There are two catalog records for the district registry wills and one for the Principal Registry.

Estate Duty Wills and Administrations

Many probate records from the counties of Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall were destroyed during World War II. For these and others counties are available at the Family History Library. Click on one of the following links to find the film numbers in the catalog.

Death duty register for abstracts of administrations and probates of wills for country courts, 1796-1811.

Abstracts of administrations in the country courts, 1812-1857.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1796-1811; and administrations, 1796-1857.

Index to death duty registers in the Estate Duty Office, 1812-1903

Films may be viewed at the library or ordered through a family history center.

Records Not in the Family History Library

For some courts not all documents or time periods have been microfilmed. For a few courts, the library has no records at all. Sometimes a particular record was omitted from the filming. To obtain a copy of a record not at the library, contact the archive that holds the original records. For copies of wills after 1925 or administrations after 1857, write to:

York Probate Sub-Registry
Castle Chambers
Clifford Street
York Y01 9RG
England
Email: york.psr@hmcourts-service.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 01904 666777
Internet: http://www.lawontheweb.co.uk/basics/probateoffices.htm

When visiting England the office location is:

Probate Search Rooms
First Avenue House
42–49 High Holborn
London
England
Internet:http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Research_Guide:_Probate_Records 

Sources

For pre-1858 probate records, the following sources list dates and repositories where you may write for records not available at the Library:

Camp, Anthony J. Wills and Their Whereabouts. Fourth Edition. London, England: Anthony J. Camp, 1974. (Family History Library book 942 S2wa.) This book describes jurisdictions and lists records, time periods covered, and availability of indexes by repository.

Gibson, J. S. W. A Simplified Guide to Probate Jurisdictions: Where to Look for Wills. Third Edition. Solihull, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Limited, 1985, updated 1988. (Family History Library  book 942 P23g 1985.) This lists probate courts and records with the location of and dates covered by original records.

Gibson, J. S. W. Wills and Where to Find Them. Chichester, England: Phillimore and Company, Limited, 1974. (Family History Library book 942 S2gw.) This discusses probates by county with a list of courts, records, and records offices. Includes basic maps and glossary.

Difficulties in Locating a Pre-1858 Record

You may have difficulty locating a probate record for one of the following reasons:

  • In many courts there are separate indexes for administrations and wills. Search both indexes to find a possible probate record in that court.
  • When a higher church authority made an official visit, the lower court was "inhibited" (prevented from acting). This was called an "ecclesiastical visitation." Records of estates probated during an ecclesiastical visitation are often with the records of the higher court.
  • If the court presiding officer was not present, another court probated the will. For example, the Court of the Dean and Chapter usually acted when there was no bishop.

Other courts, such as the Court of Common Pleas or the county quarter sessions, may have probated or received a copy of the will.

Technically, church courts did not have jurisdiction over real property. Some wills and many disputes over real property were handled by the Chancery Court of England. Some of the wills in this and other national courts are listed in:

A List of Wills, Administrations, etc. in the Public Record Office, London, England: 12th–19th Century. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Magna Carta Book Company, 1968. (Family History Library book 942 S2po.)

An entirely different court may have been used for the convenience of the executor.

To overcome these problems, search the records of all probate courts having jurisdiction over the areas where the individual had property. You may also need to extend your search several years after the individual’s death.