Northumberland Probate Records

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England Northumberland Northumberland Probate Records

For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.

Getting Started

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his/her heirs. 

In order to find a probate record for your ancestor in Kent, you must answer two questions:

  1. When did your ancestor die?
  2. Where did your ancestor live or own property?

A key date is 1858, when probate authority was taken from the ecclesiatical courts of the Church of England and given to the civil government. 

  • If your ancestor died before 1858, his/her probate would have been proven by an ecclesiatical court and it is important to know where he/she lived, as that will determine which courts had jurisdiction. 
  • If you know where your ancestor lived before 1858, you should go to the Probate Court Jurisdictions section below to determine what courts had jurisdiction over your ancestor's place of residence. 
  • Beginning in 1858, probate authority was vested in the Principal Probate Registry system.  For more information, scroll to the Post-1857 Probate Records section at the bottom of the page.

Once you have answered the two questions and determined the courts, look for indexes.  Indexes will be found on the individual court pages (when you click on a court name) or in the Probate Indexes section below.

Northumberland Probate Courts

The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over the towns and parishes of Northumberland before 1858: 

In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England. Wealthier individuals, people who owned property in more than one county or lower court's jurisdiction, and Naval personnel often had their estates proven through the Archbishop's court.

Appeals Courts

Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:

Some Explanatory Notes on the Northumberland Probate Courts

Court Jurisdictions

Before 1858, every town and parish in Northumberland was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. When looking for the will of an ancestor, search the courts in the order given. Search indexes first. For indexes, click on the court name links above.

To see a list of Northumberland places and the pre-1858 ecclesiastical courts that jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link:  A, B-C, D-J, K-R, S-Z

Probate Indexes Online

Before looking for a will, you should search an index.

Durham and Northumberland probate records, 1527-1857
Planned completion date: summer 2009.

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.