Surrey Probate Records
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. This article is about probate records in the county of Sussex. For general information about English 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 Sussex, follow these steps;
Step 1. Search indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Surrey. Search these indexes first:
- Surrey & South London Will Abstracts 1470-1856. This collection, on the British Origins website, contains fully indexed abstracts of every Surrey will known to still exist, over 28,000 of them, dating from the 15th to 19th centuries. This is a subscription website.
- The Surrey Plus Wills Index. This website provides an index to names of all people appearing in the wills of testators residing in the county of Surrey (and nine other neighbouring counties). Links are provided to transcripts of wills, where available.
- Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (1384 - 1858)
Did you find a reference to a probate records?
- 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 Surrey was 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 theFamily 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.
Surrey Probate Courts
These courts had some probate jurisdiction over Surrey before 1858. For more information, click on a court name.
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Surrey
- Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of Winchester in the Archdeaconry of Surrey
- Court of the Bishop of Winchester (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Bishop of London (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Bishop of Canterbury (Episcopal Consistory)
- Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Winchester
- Court of the Deanery of the Arches of London, Croydon, Shoreham (Peculiar of the Archbishop of Canterbury)
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury