Hampshire Probate Records

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England Gotoarrow.png Hampshire

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 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.

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 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.

Hampshire Probate Courts

The major probate court for Hampshire was called the Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Winchester which held jurisdiction over most of the county prior to 1858.  But the county also had numerous concurrent smaller jurisdictions called "peculiars" courts as well (see the "Hampshire Parishes and Their Probate Jurisdictions" section below to determine the correct court jurisdiction for the parish you want to search). There were close to seventy of these smaller, peculiar court jurisdictions.

To search for an administration (when a person died intestate or, that is, without naming an executor to the estate) in one of the peculiar courts, a search must be conducted in the above Episcopal Consistory Court.

When looking up a parish in the "Hampshire Courts and Their Jurisdictions" section below, be certain to search the records of each court jurisdictions as presented in the order indicated for each parish:

In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury held jurisdiction over England including both the  provinces of York and Canterbury. Mostly the wealthy but occasionally from among even those of modest means who owned property in more than one diocese or smaller court jurisdictions, as well as Royal Naval personnel--often had their estates proven through one of the Archbishop's court.

Some Explanatory Notes on the Hampshire Probate Courts


Court Jurisdictions

Before 1858, most Hampshire townships and parishes in Hampshire were under the probate jurisdiction of a primary or a peculiar ecclesiastical court and one or more secondary ecclesiastical courts. 

To see a list of places in Hampshire and the pre-1858 ecclesiastical courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on the letter that the place name begins with:

 A    B    C    D-G    H    I-N    O-R    S    T-U    V-Z  

Probate Indexes Online

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

An index to the Hampshire Wills are available via Hampshire Archives and Local Studies' online Catalogue at the Hampshire Record Office. Their online searches provide access not only to Hampshire wills, but to all probate records as well as several other record types dating from the 15th to 20th centuries. Write to the Hampshire Archives for copies to be made of a will or administration.

To obtain the address or e-mail address, click on any court name in the list above. In addition, the Family History Library has microfilmed the Hampshire probate records and they are available through its Family History Centers worldwide.

Probate Indexes

Archdeaconry of Winchester card index of wills, 1660-1857 (A-Cabanac)
Archdeaconry of Winchester card index of wills, 1660-1857 (Cabanac-Z)
Original index to the archdeaconry wills (WI-1-5) 1502-1792, 1742-1857

Extracts from registered and original wills in the Consistory Court of Winchester, 1492-1652, and the Archdeaconry Court of Winchester, 1501-1653. Lists the testator, executor and anyone else for whom some relationship was stated, witnesses names and relationship, place of residence, occupation, date of probate, etc. Extracts are not arranged in either alphabetical or chronological order. The Family History Library also has an listing at the British Reference Counter of these extracts[2]

Hampshire will index, Consistory Court of Winchester, 1840-1858 Complete extracts

Hampshire probate record card indexes, 1540-1857 [4]

An index of personal names in Isle of Wight probate records, 1378-1600 [5]

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. Between 1796-1903 estate duty indexes may help 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.

An annual, 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 1858-1925 are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.