Worcestershire Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Worcestershire Probate Courts
- 3 Probate Indexes
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include wills and administrations. 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 Worcestershire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Worcestershire. 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 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 Worcestershire fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. Click on a link below for the letter the parish begins with.
For a list of Worcestershire parishes and the pre-1858 courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link:
Worcestershire Probate Courts
Most of Worcestershire 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 Hereford (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 Dean and Chapter of Worcester
- Court of the Peculiar of Evesham
- Court of the Peculiar of the Rector of Alvechurch or Allchurch
- Court of the Peculiar of the Rector of Bredon with Norton and Cutsdean
- Court of the Peculiar of the Rector of Fladbury
- Court of the Peculiar of the Rector of Hanbury
- Court of the Peculiar of the Rector of Hartlebury
- Court of the Peculiar of the Rector of Ripple with Queenhill and Holdfast
- Court of the Peculiar of the Rector of Tredington with Shipston upon Stour
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.
In addition of the indexes listed below, court-specific indexes will be found on the court pages. Click on a court name in the list above.
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.
These records can cover just one parish or many parishes, covering pre-1858 probate records. The following is an index to these Worcestershire Peculiar Probate Court records.
- Index to Wills Proved in Peculiars 1712-1788  Contents: Fladbury, 1721-1775 -- Ripple, 1721-1729 -- Hanbury, 1720-1769 -- Bredon, 1717-1772 -- Tredington with Shipston (upon Stour), 1717-1788 -- Hartlebury, 1720-1784 -- Allchurch [i.e., Alvechurch], 1718-1773 -- Stratford, 1718-1773 -- Hampton, 1712-1760.
Some of the Peculiar Courts have indexed and unindexed portions of the records. The following follows this:
- Wills and administrations, 1441-1788 of the Court of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester which covers Berrow, Kempsey, Norton near Kempsey, St Michael In Bedwardine and College Precincts, Stoulton, and Tibberton. 
Not all the peculiar court records are indexed and need to be located differently. The following links can help in finding these unindexed peculiar probate records.
- Wills for the Peculiar Court of Bredon, 1668-1791 which covers the parishes of Bredon, Norton (Bredons Norton) and Cutsdean. 
- Wills and administrations for the Peculiar Court of Fladbury, 1662-1795 This covers the parish of Fladbury and its chapelries of Stock and Bradley, Throckmorton and Wyre Piddle. 
- Wills for the Peculiar Court of Ripple, 1663-1771 which covers the parishes of Holdfast, Queenhill and Ripple