Northumberland Probate Records
For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until 1858. Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from the ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Post-1857 Probate Records section below contains links to additional information about the records of this court.
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 name. This opens a jurisdictions table.
- Follow the instructions on the jurisdictions table page.
Northumberland Probate Courts
The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over the towns and parishes of Northumberland before 1858:
- Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Chancery of the Archbishop of York
- Exchequer and Prerogative Courts of the Archbishop of York
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of York
- Court of the Peculiar of the Archbishop of York in Hexham and Hexhamshire
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebend of Thockrington
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.
Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:
The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also served as an appeals court.
Court Jurisdictions by Parish
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:
Probate Indexes Online
- York Peculiars Probate Index covers over 25,000 wills proved in the fifty four peculiar courts of the Province of York in the five-hundred year period from 1383 to 1883.
- Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York Probate Index 1842-1858
- An index covering 1267 to 1500 includes 10,000 wills proved in the Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York.
- The Durham and Northumberland probate records, 1527-1857, project will come online in 2010. The digital images will be searchable by name, place, occupation or date.
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 you locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.
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. For more information, go to Principal Probate Registry.