Probate and Wills Records Collection 1462-1911
Probate and Wills records
Bank of England Wills Extracts Index 1717-1845
The Bank of England Wills Extracts contain 60,523 entries, covering the period 1717-1845. They contain extracts of wills of those who died with monies in public funds, as well as abstracts of orders made for stockholders who went bankrupt or were declared lunatic.
All social conditions are to be found, from servant girl to Peer of the Realm. Stockholders, or fundholders as they used to be called, appear to come from every part of the British Isles and the Colonies. There are also several hundred Dutch fundholders.
The index is a finding aid to the original entries and hard copies of extracts found via the index can be ordered online.
Chester Wills and Probate 1492-1911
This collection includes all surviving original wills of Cheshire residents proved at the Chester diocesan consistory court between 1492 and 1857 and registered copies made at Chester Probate Registry from 1858 to 1911. In total, you can search approximately 121,000 names.
London Probate Index 1750-1858
This index covers the administration of estates at nine courts not covered by the index for London and Middlesex probate entries 1750-1858 in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury series held at The National Archives.
Each entry includes first and last name, date of the grant of representation to the estate, whether a will, administration or other record, the court, parish, county, country etc. of residence as given in the original and any other details as shown, including cross-referenced aliases and maiden, former or other last names.
Find out more about these records in our knowledge base.
Northamptonshire and Rutland Probate Index 1462-1857
The Northamptonshire and Rutland Probate Index has been created from several of the earlier indexes of probate records held in the Northampton Record Office. The index contains 87,058 entries that cover the period 1462 to 1857.
Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Index 1750-1800
Wills have been proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury since 1383 and are now preserved in The National Archives, London. The index, created by the Society of Genealogists, covers wills proved in the period 1750 to 1800 (inclusive). Via this index you can order copies of the wills from this period from the Society of Genealogists.
The present index is approximately 85% complete, and includes about 208,000 entries.
Suffolk Testator and Beneficiary Indices 1847-1857
The Testator index records 1,124 wills and the people who made them. The Beneficiary index records 10,698 people or other entities, who benefitted from those wills. The wills were proved during the years 1847-1857.
West Kent Probate Index 1750-1858
The wills for the Diocese of Canterbury (effectively East Kent) are more or less fully indexed, although the equally (and sometimes more) valuable administrations are not.
The West Kent Probate Index is a master index of wills and administrations to the two probate and two peculiar courts of the Diocese of Rochester:
- The Archdeaconry Court of Rochester
- The Consistory Court of Rochester
- The Archbishop's Peculiar of the Deanery of Shoreham
- The Peculiar of the Rector of Cliffe
All the 6,300 or so entries have been indexed, with each entry showing the name and surname of the testator or intestate, the parish of residence, occupation and/or marital status, the year and month of the grant, and the issuing court.
All original wills and administration bonds have also been checked and some entries accidentally omitted from the probate act books have now been rescued from oblivion.
Find out more about these records in our knowledge base.
The findmypast.co.uk probate and wills records collection is designed to be as easy as possible to search. The usual search tips apply, including a "less is more" approach, which means starting with a broad search and narrowing down as necessary (rather than filling in every search field with full information).
As a minimum, either a surname or forename must be entered, although the use of wildcards is permitted. If you are unsure how a name was spelt, or can't find it with the usual spelling, try using the wildcard facility. The wildcard is denoted by a *. You can have wild-cards anywhere in first name, middlename and last name fields, but either the first name or the last name must have at least 3 initial characters.
For example, if you were looking for Lucy Harris you could search for Luc* *ris or Lu* Har*. Searching for Lu* Harr* will return a list of results that include names such as Lucy Harris or Lucretia Harris or Luisa Harrison.
You can search the index by name and county, and narrow the search by year. If you don't enter an age range the search range will default to the maximum parameters of 1462 to 1858. >Last name variants:
Owing to illiteracy, regional accents, and phonetic spelling, the name recorded within the original records may not be the one you expect. Also, many records are written in unclear handwriting or the original may have faded, making an entirely accurate transcription impossible.
>Many surnames have been grouped into 'clusters' of related surnames. For example, both 'Jonson' and 'Johnson', being variants of the same name, are in the same cluster. These clusters generally offer a better solution than 'sounds-like' or 'Soundex' coding in identifying variants. However, you cannot ask to include surname variants and use wild-cards in the surname within the same search.
>First name variants:Many forenames have frequently used diminutives or abbreviations. For example "John" may be called "Jack" and also written down as "Jno": both these (and others) can be treated as meaning the same as John. As with a last name, you cannot ask to include variants and use wild-cards in the first name within the same search. Middle name variants: The rules that apply to first name variants also apply to middle names.
>Year of birth
For certain record sets we have added an extra field, not present in the original registers, to show an approximate year of birth. This has been calculated using the simple formula [year of evente] - [recorded age at time of event] = [approximate year of birth]. This field is blank where there is no age in (or no age has been transcribed from) the original register or list.
Please note that, if the recorded age is accurate, the person in question is just as likely to have been born in the year preceding the displayed approximate year of birth, depending upon their month of birth. For example, a person buried in December 1840 aged 30 was probably born in 1810; whereas a person who was buried in January 1840 aged 30 was probably born in 1809 but will still be shown as 1810; while a person who was buried in June 1840 aged 30 could with equal probability have been born in 1809 or 1810.