Principal Probate Registry
Beginning in 1858, the civil 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.
Finding the Records
The records are available through the office of Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS).
To learn more, go to:
- The HMCS Web site -- includes a list of frequently asked questions about obtaining copies of probate records.
- The National Archives has a guide to these records.
Two record offices in England have copies of these records. Find addresses by clicking here.
The Family History Library has filmed copies of the wills for 1858-1925. The films can be viewed at the library or through family history centers. The records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under 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
A country-wide surname index to the records is available, so it is much easier to look for post-1857 wills. The index gives:
- Name of the deceased
- Date of death and date of probate
- Address of last residence
- Name of the executor/executrix
- Amount of the estate
- Name of the office where the will was proved
Here is a link to the calendars or indexes in the Family History Library Catalog: