This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Xmas Legs Small Present Present
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
US
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Did your ancestor leave a will?
Family Tree

Did your ancestor leave a will?

Posted Monday, October 2, 2017   |   1997 views   |   General Interest   |   Comments (0) For non-family historians, the appeal of a long-lost relative’s will is that they might find themselves a beneficiary. But for us, wills can provide an invaluable collection of names, relationships and clues to family members from times gone by. June Terrington examines this rich collection of records

So, you’ve found several ancestors, and used several sources in your family history research, but now you would like to check whether any of your ancestors have left a will.

Finding wills before 1858
Wills and administrations before 1858 were proved by the church court. Not all wills needed proving by a court, not everyone left a will, and to this day many still don’t. However, those that did chose the appropriate court – out of the 250-plus in existence. The wealthy tended to opt for the Prerogative Courts of either Canterbury or York. Mostly Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills dealt with southern England 1384-1858 can be found at the The National Archives (TNA). The Prerogative Court of York, meanwhile, dealt with northern England 1389-1858. Therefore your first task in using wills dating from before 1858 will be to identify which court dealt with your ancestor’s will.

What are probate records?
Probate is the process of dealing with someone’s money, possessions and final wishes after they die. In probate, a will is ‘proved’ in court and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased. The probate court decides whether the deceased person’s will is valid and grants it to the executor. This then becomes a legal document.

About the National Probate Calendar
The National Probate Calendar (NPC) is an annual index to grants of probate and administration of deceased persons’ estates in England and Wales, from 1858 to the present day. The index has been microfilmed from 1858 up to 1943, and microfiches or microfilm of these years are available to view in many record offices and in some probate offices (not all years may be covered in any particular office). Some offices also have bound volumes for at least some of the years after 1943.

What can you discover from the NPC?
To search the NPC, start with your ancestor’s year of death, if known, and work forward.

• The entries are in surname order and then of first name(s) within each surname.

• A typical entry from the years 1858-1891 will tell you the full name of the deceased, including any aliases, the amount of his/her personal estate, date and place of death, occupation (or marital status for a woman), residence, and sometimes also previous residence, date and place where probate or administration was granted.

• From 1918 onwards, the occupation of the deceased is not given.

The entries in the NPC pertain to people who had money and or property in England and Wales (regardless of which country they actually died in). For some years, Irish and Scottish entries are in a separate section, but for other years they are included in the main index. As well as Irish and Scottish entries, there are some from all over the world, although the details may not be as full as for English and Welsh entries.

What can a will tell you?
If you find a will for a deceased ancestor it may contain useful information on other relatives such as: a spouse or children, whether they were married, or had grandchildren; the death date and age of the deceased; hopefully a birth date and place might be given; often his/her occupation will be mentioned; and also bequests made. Find also the signatures of at least two witnesses (who must not benefit from the will), and the signature of the testator
.
As you can see, tracking down an ancestor’s will can provide a wealth of evidence for your research!

Where to look for wills?

• www.thegenealogist.co.uk – Find the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills indexes and images

• www.york.ac.uk/borthwick/holdings/guides/research-guides/probate-courts – research Prerogative Court of York records

• www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk – Explore the index to wills and testaments 1513-1925

• www.llgc.org.uk/en/discover/nlw-resources/wills/ – wills proved in the Welsh Ecclesiastical courts before 1858

• www.willcalendars.nationalarchives.ie/search/cwa/home.jsp – Calendars of Wills
and Administrations 1858-1922      for Ireland

• www.ffhs.org.uk/members2/contacting.php – Can your family history society help? Many have transcribed wills projects. Find the relevant society for the area you’re interested in

• www.findmypast.co.uk – Search Findmypast for transcriptions created by societies too, and other wills collections, such as that for British India.

For more great articles like this get the Family Tree October 2017 issue of Family Tree below or subscribe and save.

Single Issue - How to Trace Your Victorian Ancestors: Everything you need to know to get started Replica Edition included
$3.99
Or 399 points
Please be aware that this issue and other special issues are not included in any of the subscription options unless stated.
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 2.77 per issue
SAVE
45%
$35.99
Or 3599 points
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.54 per issue
SAVE
23%
$22.99
Or 2299 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.68 per issue
SAVE
20%
$3.99
Or 399 points

View Issues

About Family Tree

For over 30 years, Family Tree has been helping amateurs and experts trace, research and discover the secrets behind their family history. In every issue, you’ll find practical step-by-step guides and helpful tips for researching your ancestry, with the aim of making the whole experience simple, interesting and fun!

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this subscribe to Family Tree today.

Family Tree
Annual Digital Subscription for $35.99 saving 45%

Most read articles this month


THE U-BOAT COAST

THE U-BOAT COAST

The WW1 U-boats at Pendennis have been dived for many years, by many people. The site is probably the second most popular shore-dive in Cornwall. Thousands of trainees did their first open-water dives there, most seeing the remains of one or two of the U-boats. Not sure what to write into their log-books, other than 'Silver Steps’ or ‘Pendennis’, what were these subs? MARK MILBURN investigates, and believes he can now paint a clearer picture of what lies where and why More...
The 5 Best Aviation Magazines

The 5 Best Aviation Magazines

Get ready to take your knowledge of aviation to new heights with our carefully curated list of aviation digital magazines. More...
The 5 Best Fishing Magazines

The 5 Best Fishing Magazines

Avid fisher? Or simply passionate about the pastime? Feed your fishing thrills with our 5 best fishing magazines from Pocketmags and cast your line with confidence today! More...
A Review of Dazed Magazine by Pocketmags

A Review of Dazed Magazine by Pocketmags

It is not about the latest ‘it’ bag or must-have accessory of the season, it is not about which celebrity was the best-dressed at last week’s awards ceremony or who has committed a serious fashion faux-pas. It is fully about redefining the status quo and challenging our conception of beauty - it is the one and the only Dazed magazine. More...
The 5 Best Baking Magazines

The 5 Best Baking Magazines

Passionate baker or dessert lover, here at Pocketmags there’s a digital magazine to make all your sweet dreams come true! More...
The 5 Best Scale Modelling Magazines

The 5 Best Scale Modelling Magazines

Start creating your very own miniature world today with one of our 5 best scale modelling magazines! More...
The 5 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Magazines

The 5 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Magazines

Inspire your meat-free lifestyle with our 5 best vegan and vegetarian digital magazines! More...
SURPRISE MAINLAND PACKAGE

SURPRISE MAINLAND PACKAGE

You don’t have to stay on a Greek island to enjoy Greek diving with all the trimmings, and ‘best-kept secret’ Epidavros offers its own argument for a mainland base. STEVE WEINMAN reports More...
The 5 Best Music Magazines

The 5 Best Music Magazines

Whether you’re an active listener, player or can get up and boogie to your favourite jam, here at Pocketmags, we have the 5 best music magazines to keep the beat alive in you all year round. More...
DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

A manta ray called Mathilde was just one big reason why SIMON MORLEY will never forget his recent trip to Socorro, San Benedicto and Roca Partida – the main Revillagigedo islands More...
Vouchers Gift Cards A magazine subscription is the perfect gift but you'll need something to show on the big day. View All
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points