Leicestershire Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Leicestershire Probate Courts
- 3 Probate Indexes
- 4 Some Explanatory Notes About the Leicestershire Probate Courts
- 5 Estate Duty Records
- 6 Probates After 1857
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include wills and administrations. This article is about probate records in Leicestershire. For a general description of England probate records, click here.
1858 to the Present
Beginning in 1858, the Principal Probate Registry had the authority for probating estates. Click on the link to learn more.
Before 1858, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Leicestershire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Leicestershire. Search these indexes first:
- http://www.familyhistoryonline.net/database/SussexFHGprobate.shtml -- compiled by the Sussex Family History Group which has transcribed the names of 12,300 individuals found in Sussex wills, including testators, executors, beneficiaries or witnesses. The information recorded includes name, date and place.
- The Sussex Record Society has published four volumes of indexes to Sussex wills, and these can be viewed on their website. They are arranged by parish then by surname.
- Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (1384-1858).
Did you find a reference to a probate record?
- If yes, go to Step 4 below.
- If no, go to Step 2 below.
Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died
Determine when your ancestor died. If you aren't sure, use an approximate date.
Determine where your ancestor died. It is easier to find a probate record if you know whether the place where your ancestor lived or died is a parish. To learn whether it is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here is a link to the 1872 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales online:
The gazetteer will either tell you:
- A place is a parish, or
- What parish it is a part of, or
- What place it is near.
If the latter, look that place up in the gazetteer and see if it is a parish.
Once you have identified the parish, go to Step 3.
Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish
Once you have identified the parish where your ancestor lived or died, learn which courts had jurisdiction over it then search indexes for those courts. Every town and parish in Leicestershire fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. Click on a link below for the letter the parish begins with.
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)
In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.
- Wealthy individuals
- Interregnum, 1649-1660, because the Prerogative Court was the only court.
- Property in more than one diocese in the Province of Canterbury.
- Property in both the Province of Canterbury and Province of York.
- People who died outside England, including British citizens and others who held property in England.
- 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.