Probate Indexes - England

Probate records are one of the most valuable genealogical sources in pre-Victorian England. The creation of probate records fell under the jurisdiction of the state church through 1858, after which time the Principal Probate Registry in London held jurisdiction over all of England (a nationwide index exists from 1858 forward). The Church of England divided the country into various probate jurisdictions. Probate records of residents in single villages and towns could be proved in multiple courts, depending on factors such as the location of real estate. This makes it necessary to search a variety of probate courts in order to locate wills, inventories, and administrations for English ancestors. Some courts align with boundaries of dioceses (consistory), others with old monasteries (peculiars). The court that held jurisdiction over Englishmen living abroad (including the American Colonies) was the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London.