Surrey Probate Records
The following article is about probate records in the county of Surrey. For general information about English probate records, click here.
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.
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 has a link to an article about probates after 1857.
Follow these steps 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 the Court Jurisdictions section below.
- Click a letter or span of letters for your place. This opens an article showing a table of places and the courts that had jurisdiction over them.
- Follow the steps at the top of the table to search for a will.
Court Jurisdictions by Parish
Before 1858, every town and parish in Surrey was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary eccelsiastical court and one or more secondary courts. In order to find the will of a deceased person, you need to know what courts had jurisdiction over the place where he/she lived.
To see a list of Surrey places and the courts that had jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link:
Search the courts in the order given. Search indexes first. For indexes covering more than one court, see below. For court-specific indexes, click on the name of a court above.
If you do not know where your ancestor lived or owned property, search the indexes to each court if necessary. Lastly, search the index to the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Surrey Probate Courts
These courts had some probate jurisdiction over Surrey before 1858. Click on a court name to learn more about records and indexes.
- 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)
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
- Interregnum, 1649-1660, because the Prerogative Court was the only court.
- Property in more than one diocese in the Province of Canterbury.
- Property in both the Province of Canterbury and Province of York.
- People who died outside England, including British citizens and others who held property in England.
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.
Probate Indexes Online
Before looking for a will, you should search an index.
Surrey & South London Will Abstracts 1470-1856: http://www.originsnetwork.com/help/popup-aboutbo-surrwills.htm
- 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: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~engsurry/
- 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 neighboring counties). Links are provided to transcripts of wills, where available.
For other indexes, click on a court name in the list above.
Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (1384 - 1858) 
Surrey administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1760-1781 
Commissary Court of Surrey, 1660-1751 : index to the original wills at London Metropolitan Archives 
Commissary Court of the Bishop of Winchester in the archdeaconry of Surrey : index to the original wills (collated with the act books and will registers) and original administration bonds, etc., also Peculiar Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Deanery of Croydon, index to the wills, 1752-1858 
Peculiar Court (Arches, Croydon and Shoreham) Probate records, 1602-1841 
Surrey administrations in the prerogative court of Canterbury 1782-1790 
Index to Surrey wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1650-1700 
Surrey wills : Archdeaconry court, Herringman register 
Surrey wills : Archdeaconry court, Spage register 
Surrey wills (P. C. C.) 1600-1608 
Diocese of Winchester. Commissary Court. Wills, administrations, and act books, 1662-1858 (include indexes) 
Diocese of London. Consistory Court Wills and administrations, 1362-1857 Index to registers, 1514-1641 FHL Film 94171 
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.