Most of our probate collections are indexes – essential aids to help you track down the full records. The largest of these is the National Probate Calendar, which is the single most important resource for tracking wills and probate records after 1858. After you’ve found an ancestor in the Calendar, it’s far easier to order a copy of their documents from the Principal Probate Registry.
Probate records that pre-date 1858 are scattered all over the country, often in local record offices or private archives. Our collections reflect this, as we have indexes from a variety of places and sources. Most of these indexes contain references, which will help you track down the original documents.
Probate records are court documents created by the distribution of a person’s estate after they die. The most important of these is usually a will, which lists the deceased’s property and outlines who it has been left to. These records offer a rare view into your ancestors’ daily lives.
The value of the estate suggests whether they lived in luxury or squalor. The possessions themselves offer clues about hobbies and interests. And the other family members mentioned often provide completely new avenues to research.