Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury

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England Gotoarrow.png England Probate Records


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.


Online Indexes

An index to the records of the Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury for 1384-1858 is available online through the Web site of The National Archives, Kew, in the out-skirts of London on DocumentsOnline.  When you find a reference to a will of interest, you can purchase it online through the Web site 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.

Printed and Published Indexes

The records and indexes for 1383-1857 are also available on microfilm at the Family History Library.


Archive Location

The records are deposited at The National Archives.

Archive Records

  • 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)

Family History Library Records

The Family History Library's cataloged records providing the microfilms so you can have them circulated to the center near you for searching the wills). The information obtained from the index[es] will help you more quickly search the wills and admons. Films can be circulated to family history center.

Archive Records

Add information about the manuscript, printed and digital records in this location.


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.