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Wills - Probate Records pre 1858

Wills and Administrations before 1858

Before 1858, probate was granted by one of many ecclesiastical courts. The records are scattered in lots of different record offices and there is no one comprehensive index of names.

Until 1858, wills were proved and administrations granted in a network of church courts.

The country was divided into two provinces – Canterbury and York – and each province consisted of a number of dioceses. Church administration was hierarchical. If a person possessed goods valuing £5 (£10 in London) in more than one diocese, the will was proved by the archbishop’s court. When this amount was first set in the 14th century, it seemed very high but, by the 19th century, all ranks of society were represented.

For people with Badsey and Wickhamford connections, their wills were usually proved at Worcester, though a few of the more affluent had their wills proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.