Principal Probate Registry
Beginning in 1858, the government took over the settlement of estates and all wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system. The system consists of 11 district registry offices and 18 sub-district registries, located throughout England and Wales, and the principal registry office located in London. The records are available through the office of Her Majesty's Courts Service. To learn more, go to the HMCS Web site.
A country-wide surname index to the records is available, so it is much easier to look for post-1857 wills. The Family History Library has film copies of the indexes,1858-1957 and wills, 1858-1925. Films can be viewed in the library or in family history centers. Search the Family History Library Catalog to find the film numbers.
Go to the catalog and click Place Search.
- Type England and click Search.
- Click England to bring up a list of topics.
- Scroll down and click the topic Probate Records.
Scroll down and click one of the following titles:
- Record copy wills for the Principal Registry, 1858-1925
- Record copy wills from the District Probate Registries, 1858-1899
- Record copy wills from the District Probate Registries, 1900-1925
Indexes to these records are also on film in the Family History Library.
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