Northumberland Probate Records
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:
- 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.
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.
To see a list of Northumberland places and the pre-1858 ecclesiastical courts that jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link:
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
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury