Staffordshire Probate Records
For an explanation of probate records in England, click here.
Step By Step
1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will, writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.
2. Proceed to the "Probate Records Held in This Archive" (below) to determine what original probate records exist for this court. Also see "Probate Records of This Court in The Family History Library".
3. Contact or visit the County Record Office or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send upon request a list of record searchers.
4. Visit The Family History Library, or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes to probate records; then with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons also on microfilm via any centers near you.
If no will is found, your ancestor may not have left one.
Staffordshire Probate Courts
The following probate courts had some jurisdiction over the county of Staffordshire prior to 1858; note that most of Staffordshire was covered by its largest court jurisdiction, called--the Court of the Bishop of Lichfield (Episcopal Consistory), but the county also had numerous concurrent smaller jurisdictions called "peculiars" courts as well (see the "Staffordshire Parishes and Their Probate Jurisdictions" section below to determine the correct court jurisdiction for the parish in which you may be searching):
- Episcopal Consistory Court of Lichfield
- Court of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean of Lichfield
- Court of the Peculiar of Alrewas and Weeford
- Court of the Peculiar of Burton on Trent
- Court of the Peculiar of Colwich
- Court of the Peculiar of Eccleshall
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Gnosall
- Court of the Peculiar of Hansacre and Armitage
- Court of the Peculiar of High Offley and Flixton
- Court of the Peculiar of Longdon
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Pattingham
- Court of the Peculiar of Penkridge
- Court of the Peculiar of the Prebend of Prees or Pipe Minor
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Sedgely
- Court of the Peculiar of Tettenhall
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Tyrley
- Court of the Peculiar of Whittington and Baswich
- Court of the Peculiar of Wolverhampton
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 or diocese of the Church of England
- Military and naval personnel
- People who lived or owned property outside England
There were two appeals courts within the Prerogative Court of Canterbury which heard disputes over the administration or probate of an estate. They were the:
- Court of Arches which held jurisdiction over 13 parishes in the City of London and concurrent jurisdiction over the whole of the provinces of York and Canterbury (records are at Lambeth Palace Library, London).
- High Court of Delegates or sometimes known as the Court of Delegates, also heard appeals cases regarding probates and administrations.
The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also served as an appeals court.
Some Explanatory Notes on the Courts in Staffordshire
Records and indexes for each court are also available in the collection of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Search the Family History Library Catalog for the title of the court or the court as an author.
Before looking for a will, you should search an index.
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.
See the above online indexes available at Google.books which is copy of a printed will index for Staffordshire.
The Smethwick Local history Society has published the Probate inventories of Smethwick residents, 1647-1747 : in the Lichfield Joint Record Office.
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. They cover most of the county of Stafford.
Probate Court Jurisdictions By Parish Name
Before 1858, most Staffordshire parishes came under the major probate court jurisdiction of the Court of the Bishop of Lichfield (Episcopal Consistory). A few parishes came under the jurisdiction of a smaller secondary or peculiar court. When looking for the will of an ancestor, you should search the courts in the order given. For an authoritative treatise on each Staffordshire probate court and the parishes comprising them in pre-1858, see Anthony J. Camp's publication, Wills and Their Whereabouts; also available at the Family History Library, FHL book call #942 S2wa.
The links below pertain to an alphabetical list of Staffordshire parishes and each's respective probate court to which it was attached. When looking for the will of an ancestor, you should search the courts in the order given. In addition, always search indexes first. For indexes, either click on the court name links above or in the alphabetical list of parishes indicated below in the alphabetical list.
To view each parish and to learn which court[s] to search first for probates of persons living in or owning property in that parish, click on the letter the parish name begins with
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 at the Family History Library.