Worcestershire Probate Records
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 Worcestershire. 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
There are currently no known online indexes, or indexes covering the county as a whole, for probate records that include individuals who lived in Worcestershire, with the exception of the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was the highest court in England.
Information on indexes to the records of specific courts will be found on their Wiki pages. Go to Step 2 to proceed.
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:
Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record
Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:
- Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.
- Visit the Family History Library or a family history center and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below.
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
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury