Sussex Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Sussex Probate Courts
- 3 Estate Duty 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 Sussex. 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 Sussex, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include invididuals who lived in Sussex. Search these indexes first:
- http://www.familyhistoryonline.net/database/SussexFHGprobate.shtml -- compiled by the Sussex Family History Group which has transcribed the names of 12,300 individuals found in Sussex wills, including testators, executors, beneficiaries or witnesses. The information recorded includes name, date and place.
- The Sussex Record Society has published four volumes of indexes to Sussex wills, and these can be viewed on their website. They are arranged by parish then by surname.
- Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (1384-1858).
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 are links to gazetteers online.
- Vision of Britain
Once you have identified the parish, go to Step 3.
Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish
Before 1858, every town and parish in Sussex fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary or superior courts. If you do not find reference to a probate record for your ancestor in the above indexes, you should search a court-specific index, but to do that you must identify the courts that had jurisdiction over the place where your ancestor lived. Click on the letter the name of your place begins with, then follow the steps found there.
Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record
Sussex Probate Courts
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.
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.