Shropshire Probate Records
The following article is about probate records in the county of Shropshire. For general information about English probate records, click here.
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. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.
Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Probates After 1857 section below has a link to an article about probates after 1857.
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until 1858. Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Probatets After 1857 section below contains links to additional information about the records of this court.
To look for a probate record before 1858:
- Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
- Go to Court Jurisdictions section below.
- Click a letter or span of letters for your place name. This opens a jurisdictions table.
- Follow the instructions on the jurisdictions table page.
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
In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.
- Wealthy individuals
- People who owned property in more than one county
- Military and naval personnel
- People who lived or owned property outside England
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.
Court Jurisdictions by Parish
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. Estate duty indexes may help locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.
Probates After 1857
Beginning in 1858, the government took over the settlement of estates and all wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system. For more information, go to Principal Probate Registry.