Leicestershire Probate Records
For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.
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:
- Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
- Go to Court Jurisdictions section below.
- Click a letter or span of letters for your place. This opens a jurisdictions table.
- Follow the instructions on the jurisdictions table page.
Leicestershire Probate Courts
Most of Leicestershire was under the pre-1858 probate jurisdiction of the Court of the Archdeaconry of Leicester. The majority of probate searches will be in the records of this court and its superior courts. However, the following smaller courts also had some pre-1858 jurisdiction within the county. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.
- Court of the Manor of Evington (Commissary Court)
- Court of the Peculiar of Groby (Commissary Court)
- Court of the Peculiar of Old Dalby
- Court of the Peculiar of Merevale
- Court of the Manor of Rothley (Commissary Court)
- Prebendal Court of St. Margaret in Leicester
- Court of the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln (Cathedral)
- Court of the Bishop of Lincoln
- Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry
Some Explanatory Notes About the Leicestershire Probate Courts
The Archdeaconry of Leicester is not technically a superior jurisdiction of the other courts, but as the largest court of original jurisdiction in the county it will often contain probate records of persons who resided in the other jurisdictions.
Since there are no known records for the Court of the Peculiar of Old Dalby, it should be treated as though it belonged to the Court of the Archdeacon of Leicester.
Before 1858, every town and parish in Leicestershire came under the jurisdiction of a primary probate court and one or more secondary courts. When looking for the pre-1858 will of an ancestor in Leicestershire, you need to determine what courts had jurisdiction over the place where your ancestor died or had property. Click on a link below for the letter your parish of interest begins with and follow the instructions given on the next page.
If you do not know a parish, search the Court of the Archdeaconry of Leicester.
Online Probate Indexes
Calendars of wills and administrations relating to the county of Leicester, proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Leicester, 1495-1649 : and in the Peculiars of St. Margaret Leicester, Rothley, Groby, Evington, and the unproved wills, etc., previous to 1801.
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 1813-1858 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.
A 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.