Northumberland Probate Records

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England Gotoarrow.png Northumberland 

The following article is about probate records in county of Northumberland. 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. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.

Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Probates After 1857 section below has a link to an article about probates after 1857

Getting Started

Follow these steps to look for a probate record before 1858:

  1. Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
  2. Go to the Court Jurisdictions section below.
  3. Click a letter or span of letters for your place. This opens an article showing a table of places and the courts that had jurisdiction over them.
  4. Follow the steps at the top of the table to search for a will.

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:

  A,  B-C,  D-J,  K-R,  S-Z

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 and specifically in the following cases.

  • Wealthy individuals
  • People who owned property in more than one county
  • Military and naval personnel
  • People who lived or owned property outside England

Appeals Courts

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.

Probate Indexes Online

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.

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.