Middlesex Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 1.1 1858 to the Present
- 1.2 Before 1858
- 1.2.1 Step 1. Search Indexes
- 1.2.2 Printed Indexes
- 1.2.3 Original Handwritten Indexes
- 1.2.4 Microfilmed Indexes at the Family History Library
- 1.2.5 Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died
- 1.2.6 Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish
- 1.2.7 Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record
- 2 Probate Courts of Middlesex County
- 3 Some Explanatory Notes on the Middlesex 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 Sussex. 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 Sussex, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Sussex. Search these indexes first:
- A comprehensive will and admon index for most all of London and Middlesex's probate jurisdictions is found in Dr. David Wright's will index for 1750-1857 on CDs for sale for surnames A-F; enquire with him for lookups for surnames beginning with G-Z at a set fee.
Several printed indexes exist for the various courts of Greater London, but not all. Look in this ("Printed Indexes") section under each Probate court for indexes and the locations for accessing same.
Original Handwritten Indexes
Indexes and claendars to the Probate Acts of Wills and Administrations (Admons) exist from 1258-1857. Calendars are a kind of index (of the first letter of each surname) to the probate records and admons (administrations).
In addition to the calendars, a majority of the original (unregistered) wills and the registered wills are alphabetically arranged for but a few courts; most are only arranged chronologically, making will searches without indexes, fairly complex and challenging at best and are likewise organized on the microfilmed probates for these courts at the Family History Library.
Microfilmed Indexes at the Family History Library
The Family History Library has many will and admon (Administration) indexes and calendars which are available on microfilm at the Family History Library covering the years as above mentioned 1258-1858 and may be circulated to each of its satellite Family History Centers (see Court of the Archdeaconry of Essex), or go to this Family History Library Catalog page.
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 Sussex 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.
This list does not include London city parishes. For those, go to London Probate Records.
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.
Probate Courts of Middlesex County
- Court of Husting
- Court of the Archdeaconry of London
- The Court of Arches of the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Court of the Bishop of London (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (London Division)
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster (Abbey)
- Court of the Deanery of the Arches of London, Croydon, Shoreham (Peculiar of the Archbishop of Canterbury)
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral
- Royal Peculiar Court of St Katherine's by the Tower
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Some Explanatory Notes on the Middlesex Probate Courts
Probate records of Middlesex, incorporating Greater London and the whole of the ancient county of Middlesex commence from as early as 1258 up to 1857. There are several Middlesex County probate court jurisdictions, some of which hold extensive probate record coverage for the greater metropolis and there are a few smaller court jurisdictions which only pertain to a small handful of parishes.
The complexity of probate research in this most populous region of England resides in the fact that Greater London's layout is likewise complex, incorporating the whole of Middlesex and London counties, as well as portions of northwest Kent, northeast Surrey, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire. Several courts held concurrent jurisdiction with one another thus requiring searching multiple probate courts.