Suffolk Probate Records
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 Suffolk. 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 Suffolk, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Suffolk. Search these indexes first:
- Probate Indexes 1800-1857 This index contains 12,000 plus entries for Suffolk county under the probate search. Norfolk Sources is a collection of images of archive material supplied by the Norfolk Record Office and the Norfolk Heritage Centre (part of Norfolk Libraries and Information Service
- 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 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
- National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941.
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 whether the place where your ancestor lived or died is a parish. To learn whether it is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here is a link to the 1872 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales online:
The gazetteer will either tell you:
- A place is a parish, or
- What parish it is a part of, or
- What place it is near.
If the latter, look that place up in the gazetteer and see if it is a parish.
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 Suffolk fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several 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 theFamily History Library or afamily history center and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below.
Suffolk Probate Courts
The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over the county of Suffolk 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
- 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
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury