Staffordshire Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Staffordshire Probate Courts
- 3 Some Explanatory Notes on the Courts in Staffordshire
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include wills and administrations. This article is about probate records in Staffordshire. For a general description of England probate records, click here.
1858 to the Present
Beginning in 1858, the Principal Probate Registry had the authority for probating estates. Click on the link to learn more.
Before 1858, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Staffordshire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Staffordshire. Search these indexes first:
- a brand new index for 1650-1730 for Staffordshire at this link Will and administsrations
- A general will index for the Diocese of Lichfield, a scanned edition of P.W. Phillimore's publication by 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.
- The Manor of Sedgley has online indexes listed below under the Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Sedgley.
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.
Did you find a reference to a probate record?
- If yes, go to Step 4 below.
- If no, go to Step 2 below.
Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died
Determine when your ancestor died. If you aren't sure, use an approximate date.
Determine where your ancestor died. It is easier to find a probate record if you know the parish where your ancestor lived or died. To learn the parish for the place where your ancestor died, look the place up in a gazetteer (topographical dictionary). Here is a link to the 1872 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales online: Vision of Britain
The gazetteer will either tell you:
- A place is a parish, or if not--
- What parish it is in
Once you have identified the parish, go to Step 3.
Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish
Once you have identified the parish where your ancestor lived or died, learn which courts had jurisdiction over it then search indexes for those courts. Every town and parish in Staffordshire fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and one or more secondary courts. Click on a link below for the letter the parish begins with.
Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record
Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:
- Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.
- Visit the Family History Library or a family history center and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below.
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 and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory), but the county also had numerous concurrent smaller jurisdictions called "peculiars" courts as well (see the "Staffordshire Court Jurisdictions By Parish" section below to determine the correct court jurisdiction for the parish in which you may be searching for a will):
- Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory)
- 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
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury
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.