Now Online: England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941

Ancestry.com has recently written the following announcement:
Ancestry.co.uk has recently added  England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 to its online collection of records. This is a major resource for genealogists.

This collection contains summaries (not the actual documents) of the vast majority of probate cases in England and Wales between 1861 and 1941. It effectively forms an index to wills and probate records for this period.

The records were created by the Probate Registry, which took control of proving wills and administrations in 1858. Before this, four different types of ecclesiastical (church) courts dealt with these cases. A Principal Probate Registry was established in London in January 1858, and several district probate registries were created around the country. From then on, the registries oversaw all grants of probate and letters of administration. This collection is the Calendar of these grants.

The Calendar is separated into a different volume for each year. The entries in each volume are then alphabetised by surname. Information varies across different entries, but each typically includes:
  • Probate date
  • Full name of the deceased
  • Death date
  • Death place
  • Registry where issued
While the collection covers 80 years from 1861 to 1941, there are some gaps for the years 1863, 1868, 1873, 1876, 1877, 1883, 1888, 1899-1903 and 1910-1911.

Wills often furnish vital information for genealogists. While the wills always provide information about the deceased and his or her heirs, many of these will also mention other family members by name and often by relationship. You may find siblings, children, illegitimate children, nephews or nieces whose existence you never suspected.

As noted in the database title, the new online database is an index. To order a copy of a will or grant mentioned in this collection, you can do so for a fee from the Principal Probate Registry at First Avenue House or any district probate registry. You’ll need to provide the full name of the deceased, the date of the grant and the registry where it was issued.

For more information, please visit the Probate Registry’s website at http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/1226.htm

You can access the new England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1904 (an Ancestry.com or Ancestry.co.uk subscription is required.)

A preliminary search of the database came up with over 50 will abstracts for Kinseys in Montgomeryshire.  Some notable finds were the abstracts for Stephen Kinsey of Old Chapel (1869), Edward Vaughan of Alltgoch (1909), and Rev. Walter William Vaughan of the Llandegley Vicarage (1892).


Here is an earlier example of a will abstract from 1869:

 Later examples are not as complete but they do contain some surprises.  One surprise comes from the will abstract of Rev. Walter William Vaughan:

Up to now, it was thought that he passed away in Llandegley.  However, his will abstract hints that he may have passed away at Virginia Walter near Windsor Castle.  A will abstract is not a source document and this data would have to be supported by the death certificate.

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