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High Court of Delegates

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Description[edit | edit source]

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858.

Step By Step[edit | edit source]

As the last court of appeals, this court should be searched last after all other courts.  In many cases, a reference to a will that went through the Court of Delegates will also have been found in one of the Provincial or Chancery courts.  See the Indexes and Jurisdiction sections below.

1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will or administration (admon), writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.
2. Proceed to "Records" (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court.
3. Contact or visit the Record Office or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send upon request a list of record searchers.
4. Visit The Family History Library or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes to probate records; then with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons also on microfilm via any centers near you.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes[edit | edit source]

Printed and Published Indexes[edit | edit source]

The Genealogist magazine has published an index to the wills handled by this court in volumes 11 (pages 165-171, 224-227) and 12 (pages 97-101) covering the years 1651-1857.  (See the reference below.)  Not that many wills went to the highest court in over 200 years -- only about 325 total.

Records[edit | edit source]

Archive Location
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Originals held at The National Archives of the UK at Kew.

Archive Records
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Add information.

Family History Library Records
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Original wills, etc., 1662-1837, on microfilm at the Family History Library.

Jurisdiction[edit | edit source]

The Court of Delegates, or High Court of Delegates, was a court of appeals from the Court of Arches (Province of Canterbury) and the Court of Chancery (Province of York), including their peculiars, royal peculiars, and the Irish probate courts. "It was so called because the Judges were delegated for each particular case...  The High Court of Delegates was abolished in 1832 when the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was established  ...Wills [continued to be] proved before the latter body until the creation of the Court of Probate [1857]." [1] 


  1. Harwood. H. W. Forsyth, ed. "Wills and Administrations in the Court of Delegates" in The Genealogist. (Family History Library book 942 B2gqm, N.S. vol. 11, page 165.)