Westmorland Probate Records

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England Gotoarrow.png Westmorland

The following article has information about probate records in the county of Westmorland. 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.

Getting Started

Follow these steps to look for a probate record before 1858:

  1. Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
  2. Go to the Court Jurisdictions section below.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Westmorland was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. When looking for a will of an ancestor in this county, search the courts in the order listed. It's best to search an index first. Indexes are mentioned on the individual court pages. To link to the court page, you need to see the jurisdiction tables. Click on one of the following letters to go to a jurisdiction table.

    A   B   C D-G H   K L  M  N-R  S  T-Z

Westmorland Probate Courts

The courts that had jurisdiction over the county were:

In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.

  • Wealthier individuals.
  • People who owned property in more than one county.
  • Military and naval personnel.
  • People who lived or owned property outside England.

Appeals 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.

Probate Indexes Online

Before looking for a will, you should search an index.

Probate Index is an index of wills and related documents covering Lancashire north of the Ribble, and parts of Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire, 1748-1858. Specifically, it indexes all surviving probate documents for the Western Deaneries of the Archdeaconry of Richmond, 1748-1858. The deaneries included are Amounderness, Copeland, Furness, Kendal and Lonsdale.[1]

Westmorland, England: Parish and Probate Records is a A collection of parish and probate records in England and Wales, from the 1500s to the 1800s.

Westmorland, England: Parish and Probate Records is a collection of parish and probate records in England and Wales, from the 1500s to the 1800s.

Some Explanatory Notes on the Westmorland Probate Courts

Westmorland was almost evenly divided between the jurisdiction of the Consistory Court of Carlisle and the jurisdictions of the Archdeaconry Court of Richmond and three manorial courts. Apparently, reference to part of the Westmorland bolongin to the pr-Reformation Discese of LIchfield and cvoentry are unfounded.

The Archdeaconry of Richmond was part of the Diocese of York until 1541 and thereafter the Diocese of Chester. Evidently, the Diocese of Chester never exercised superior juridction over Richmond in probate matters. The probate granted by the Archdeaconry Court of Richmond were usually filed under the name of the deanery in which the testator resided.

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.