Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury
The Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury (PCC) had superior jurisdiction in all of England, Wales, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands and sole jurisdiction where testators had bona notabilia (an estate valued at more than five pounds sterling) in two dioceses or in two peculiars in the province of Canterbury or within two provinces (i.e., York and Canterbury). The Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also had jurisdiction over all those with property in England, Wales, Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands who dies at sea or overseas. Such persons are distinguished in the calendars by the entry "pts," abbreviation for " parts overseas." instead of the name of the place. During the Commonwealth period from 1653 to 1660 the court, in the form of a civil court, had sole testamentary jurisdiction over all of England and Wales. Since the Reformation it has been usual for the estates of men of wealth and position to receive grants of probate and letters of administration in this court. During vacancies in this court between 997 and 1590, some wills were proved in the Court of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral (also known as the Court of the Prior and Chapter of Christ Church), Canterbury, Kent.
The original records are deposited at The National Archives, Kew, in the out-skirts of London. They include:
- Original wills, 1513-1858 (with a few earlier)
- Register copy wills, 1383-1858
- Administration bonds, 16th-19th centuries
- Various act books, 1526-1858
- Inventories, 1464-1782 (with gaps; and some later records)
- An index to the records of the Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury for 1384-1858 is available online through the website of the National Archives of the UK and their 'DocumentsOnline' feature. When you find a reference to a will of interest, you can purchase it online through the website by clicking on 'See details' then on 'Add to shopping.' The cost is a straight fee of 3.50 GBP, regardless of the length of the document.
- The records and indexes for 1383-1857 are also available on microfilm at the Family History Library.