Suffolk Probate Records
The following article is about probate records in the county of Suffolk. 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 or her heirs. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 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 Probates 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.
Suffolk Probate Courts
The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over the county of Cumberland prior to 1858. Click on a court name to learn more about its records, indexes and finding a probate for your ancestor. To determine which court, go to the Court Jurisdictions section below.
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Norfolk (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) of Norwich
- Court of the Bishop of Ely (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of St Edmunds
- Court of the Commissary of the Sacrist of St Edmunds
- Court of the Peculiar of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Peculiar Deanery of Bocking
- Court of the Peculiar of Isleham and Freckenham
In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.<br>
- Wealthy individuals<br>
- People who owned property in more than one county<br>
- Military and naval personnel<br>
- People who lived or owned property outside England<br>
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 Suffolk was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary ecclesiastical court and one or more secondary ecclesiastical courts. To see a list of Suffolk places and the pre-1858 courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter for the name of a place:
Probate Indexes Online
Before looking for a will, search an index. One online index is Suffolk Probate Indexes 1847-1857. The Testator index records 1,124 wills and the people who made them. The Beneficiary index records 10,698 people, or other entities, who will benefit from those wills. The wills were proved during the years 1847-1857, that is the decade before the civil courts took over the probate of wills from the ecclesiastical courts in 1858.
The following indexes to probate records are available on www.ancestry.com under the category of "England Court, Land, Wills & Financial".
- Ipswich Probate Inventories, 1583-1631
- Sudbury Archdeaconry Wills, 1439-1638
- Wills of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury, 1439-1461
- Wills of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1620-1624
- Wills of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1625-1626
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.