Leicestershire Probate Records
The following article is about probate records in the county of Leicestershire. For general information about English probate records, click here.
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. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.
Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Probates After 1857 section below has a link to an article about probates after 1857.
Follow these steps 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 the Court Jurisdictions section below.
- Click a letter or span of letters for your place. This opens an article showing a table of places and the courts that had jurisdiction over them.
- Follow the steps at the top of the table to search for a will.
Court Jurisdictions by Parish
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.
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 Peculiar 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 the Manor of Merevale
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Rothley (Commissary Court)
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of St. Margaret in Leicester
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln
- Court of the Bishop of Lincoln
- Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory)
- 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.
- Card index to probated wills, Leicestershire, 1750-1929 Microreproduction of cards housed at the Leicestershire Record Office, Leicester and through the Family History Library and branches. 
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.
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. Estate duty indexes may help locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.
Probates After 1857
Beginning in 1858, the government took over the settlement of estates and all wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system. For more information, go to Principal Probate Registry.