Warwickshire Probate Records
The following article is about probate records in the county of Warwickshire. 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 Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until 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.
Warwickshire Probate Courts
Most of Warwickshire was under the pre-1858 probate jurisdiction of either the Court of the Bishop of Worcester (Episcopal Consistory) or the Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory). The majority of probate searches will be in the records of these two courts and their superior courts. However, the following smaller courts also had some pre-1858 jurisdiction within the county. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.
- Court of the Bishop of Gloucester (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Baddesley-Clinton
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Barston
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Bishop's Ichington, Chadshunt and Gaydon
- Peculiar Court of the Prebendal of Hampton-Lucy with Alveston Parish and its chapelry, Charlcote, and Wasperton Parish
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Knowle
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Merevale
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Packwood
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Tachbrook
- Peculiar Court of the Manor of Temple Balsall; also see Baddesley-Clinton
- Peculiar Court of the Prebend of Ufton
- Court of the Peculiar of Stratford-upon-Avon
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
- People who owned property in more than one county
- Military and naval personnel
- People who lived or owned property outside 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.
Some Explanatory Notes on Warwickshire Probate Courts
- From 1837, the whole of the Warwickshire's parishes came under the probate court jurisdiction of the Bishop of Worcester
- In pre-1837 the north, east and northwestern Warwickshire parishes came under the authority and jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lichfield.
- The rest of the of Warwickshire (south-west portion) in pre-1837 came under the Diocese of the Bishop of Worcester.
Here's the List of Warwickshire Parishes which in pre-1837, came under the court jurisdiction of the Diocese of the Bishop of Worcester (Episcopal Consistory).
Court Jurisdictions by Parish
Before 1858, every town and parish in Warwickshire came under the jurisdiction of a primary probate court and one or more secondary courts. When looking for the pre-1858 will of an ancestor in Warwickshire, you need to determine what courts had jurisdiction over the place where your ancestor died or had property. Click on a link below for the letter your parish of interest begins with and follow the instructions given on the next page.
- Registered wills and original wills, administrations and inventories, 1494-1860, and, act books, 1532-1638 for Diocese of Lichfield Episcopal Consistory Court These are calendars This diocese covers the northern and eastern parts of county Warwick.
- A general will index for the Diocese of Lichfield exists online, a scanned edition of P.W. Phillimore's publication by the British Record Society in 1892,Calendars of wills administrations in the Consistory court of the bishop of Lichfield. This single index consolidates most Staffordshire wills of the various probate court jurisdictions from 1514-1652 for the Diocese of Lichfield and to 1790 for Warwickshire's smaller peculiar courts.
- The Episcopal Consistory Court of The Bishop of Worcester Covers the southwestern third of this county.
- Episcopal Consistory Court of the Bishop of Worcester Calendar of wills and administrations, 1661-1858 is a typscript and is available at The Family History Library, (FHL) book call no. 942.47 P2e vols 1-4. Contents : v. 1. 1661-1699 -- v. 2. 1700-1749 -- v. 3. 1750-1799 -- v. 4. 1800-1858; or, it is available via microfilm at its 4,600 Family History Centers worldwide. 
- Worcestershire wills index, 1858-1928. "The index is arranged in alphabetical order of surname followed by the forename. Then the date of probate is cited, thus leading one to the register concerned, together with the relevant page number. It will be noted that there is some slight variation in style of the date of probate quoted. This is because this index was compiled from the existing indexes in each register and the amount of detail in each varied slightly, particularly in the first few volumes." -- from foreword.
- CD-ROM no. 1671 at the Family History Library 
- Calendar of wills and administrations in the Consistory court of the Bishop of Worcester, 1451-1652 : also marriage licenses and sequestrations now deposited in the Probate registry at Worcester
- The Index library (British Record Society) : v. 31, 39. (Family History Library book numbers 942 B4b v. 31 1968 and 942 B4b v. 39 1968.) Contents: v. 31. 1451-1600 -- v. 39. 1601-1652.  Also available in the Family History Library book 942.47 S2c 
- A calendar of wills and administrations preserved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Worcester, l45l-(l652) 
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.