Lincolnshire Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Lincolnshire Probate Courts
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 Lincolnshire. 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 Lincolnshire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Lincolnshire. Search these indexes first:
The website British History Online has transcriptions of Lincoln probate records for early years:
Family History Library in Salt Lake City has these indexes available:
- Lincoln probate records-indexes
- Index to records of Lincoln Peculiar Courts, including Caistor, Louth, Heydour, Corringham, Bishop Norton, Kirton in Lindsey, Gretton, Empingham, Biggleswade and Sleaford.
- The Lincolnshire Wills Beneficiary Index covers the period approximately from 1383 to1900. It was compiled by Pam Baker from information submitted by members of the Lincolnshire Family History Society. It's an index to the names of people who appear in a will made by someone else. The Family History Library has a copy of this index on fiche numbers 6393728-6393730 and 6393718-6393720.
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 Lincolnshire 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.
Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record
Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:
- Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.
- Visit the Family History Library or a family history center and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below.
Lincolnshire Probate Courts
The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over the county of Lincoln prior to 1858. Click on a court name to learn more about its records, indexes and finding a probate for your ancestor. To determine which court, go to the Court Jurisdictions by Parish section above.
- Court of the Bishop of Lincoln (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Stow
- Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of Lincoln and of the Archdeacon in the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon
- Court of the Bishop of Peterborough (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Caistor
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Corringham
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Heydour
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Kirton in Lindsey
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Louth
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Bishop Norton
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Sleaford
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebendal of Stow in Lindsey
- Exchequer and Prerogative Courts of the Archbishop of York
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Some Explanatory Notes on the Lincolnshire Probate Courts
Before the Reformation the diocese of Lincoln comprised:
- Archdeaconries of Lincoln and Stow in the county of Lincoln
- Archdeaconry of Leicester
- Archdeaconry of Northampton (including the counties of Northampton and Rutland)
- Archdeaconry of Oxford
- Archdeaconry of Bedford
- Archdeaconry of Buckingham
- Huntingdon (including the counties of Huntingdon and the county of Hertford except for the peculiar of St. Albans).
After the Reformation, the archdeaonries of Bedford, Buckingham and Huntingdon remained until the period 1837-1845 when they were transferred to other dioceses. Since court records of the Bishop's Commissaries for the various Archdeaconries tended to be kept with the records of these archdeacons there is only a relatively small number of wills at Loncoln relating to the counties other than Lincolnshire.
For most of the wills proved in all the courts down to 1532, printed abstracts will be found in C.W. Foster's Lincoln Wills published by the Lincoln Record Society volumes 5 (1271-1526) and 10 (1505-1530). There are further abstracts of selected items in Lincolnshire Wills: First Series A.D 1500-1600 (published in 1888) and Lincolnshire Wills: Second Series A.D. 1600-1617 (published in 1891) by Canon A.R. Maddison. The Family History Library has a copy of these volumes (FHL 942.53 P2ma; film 990132 Items 3-4).
- Camp, Anthony J. Wills and Their Whereabouts. London: published by author, 1974; page 66.