Shropshire Probate Records
For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his/her heirs.
In order to find a probate record for your ancestor, you must answer two questions:
- When did your ancestor die?
- Where did your ancestor live or own property?
A key date is 1858, when probate authority was taken from the ecclesiatical courts of the Church of England and given to the civil government.
- If your ancestor died before 1858, his/her probate would have been proven by an ecclesiatical court and it is important to know where he/she lived, as that will determine which courts had jurisdiction.
- If you know where your ancestor lived before 1858, you should go to the Court Jurisdictions section below to determine what courts had jurisdiction over your ancestor's place of residence.
- Beginning in 1858, probate authority was vested in the Principal Probate Registry system. For more information, scroll to the Post-1857 Probate Records section at the bottom of the page.
Once you have answered the two questions and determined the courts, look for indexes. Indexes will be found on the individual court pages (when you click on a court name) or in the Probate Indexes section below.
Shropshire Probate Courts
Most of Shropshire (also known as Salop) was under the pre-1858 probate jurisdiction of either the Court of the Bishop of Hereford (Episcopal Consistory) or the Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory). The majority of probate searches will be in the records of these two courts and their superior courts. However, the following smaller courts also had some pre-1858 jurisdiction within the county. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.
- Court of the Bishop of St Asaph (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Peculiar of the Chancellor of the Choir of the Cathedral in Little Hereford and Ashford Carbonell
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Ruyton-of-the-Eleven-Towns
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Pattingham
- Court of the Peculiar of Wombridge Abbey
- Court of the Prebend of Prees or Pipe Minor
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Ellesmere
- Court of the Royal Peculiar of Bridgnorth
- Court of the Royal Peculiar of St Mary Shrewsbury
Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:
The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also served as an appeals court.
Some Explanatory Notes on the Shropshire Probate Courts
Before 1858, every town and parish in Shropshire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary ecclesiastical court and several secondary ecclesiastical courts.
For a list of Shropshire parishes and the pre-1858 ecclesiastical courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link for the name of a parish:
Search the courts in the order given. Search indexes first. To find indexes, click on a court name above or go to the Probate Indexes section below.
Indexes to Probate Records
Registered wills and original wills, administrations and inventories, 1494-1860, and, act books, 1532-1638 for Diocese of Lichfield Episcopal Consistory Court  These are calendars
Original wills, administrations and inventories for the Diocese of Hereford, 1517-1858 
This covers the some of the western and almost all the southern part of the county of Shropshire.
Mynegai i ewyllysiau Llanelwy St. Asaph probate index, 1660-1858 
Abstracts and indexes of original wills, Consistory Court, St. Asaph's Diocese, Wales, 1557-1833 
St Asaph's Diocese covers the parishes of Halston, Kinnerley, Knockin, Llanyblodwel, Llanmynech, Melverley, Morton, Oswestry, St. Martin, Selattyn, Trefonan, Whittington which are in Shropshire, England.
Shropshire probates in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, calendar/index 1700-1749 
A general will index for the Diocese of Lichfield exists online, a scanned edition of P.W. Phillimore's publicationby the British Record Society in 1892,Calendars of wills administrations in the Consistory court of the bishop of Lichfield. This single index consolidates most Staffordshire wills of the various probate court jurisdictions from 1514-1652 for the Diocese of Lichfield and to 1790 for Staffordshire smaller peculiar courts. 
Estate Duty Records
Starting in 1796, a tax or death duty was payable on estates over a certain value. Estate duty abstracts may add considerable information not found elsewhere. Between 1813-1858 estate duty indexes may help locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.
Post-1857 Probate Records
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 website.
A country-wide surname index to the records is available, so it is much easier to look for post-1857 wills. The indexes for 1858-1957 and the records for 1858-1925 are available on microfilm through the FamilySearch Family History Library system.