England Cheshire Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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Contents

Record Description

The date ranges for available Cheshire probate records are from 1492 to 1940.

There are several different types of probate records, but wills are the most informative. Original wills were generally on loose pieces of paper, copies of which were entered into books. Act books are brief paragraphs telling that the executor appeared in court and was approved to distribute the goods as set forth in the will. Administrations are documents created when a person died without leaving a will. Older wills from 1492 through to the late 17th or early 18th century will have varying degrees of legibility. There will also be some Latin in the wills in the middle of the 17th century. Wills probated up to 1857 were handled and kept by the Consistory Court of the Diocese Chester; thereafter (1858-1940) they were handled by the District Probate Registry for Cheshire.

Until 1837 a male as young as 14 and a girl as young as 12 could make a will; thereafter one had to be 21 to make a will. Wills for married women before 1882 are rare because they were not allowed to have property. Those who had land or money, such as merchants, shopkeepers, farmers, or laborers, created wills. About 10% of the heads of households were probated before 1857, but as many as 25% left a will or was mentioned in one. There are about 143,000 names indexed in Cheshire Probate Record indexes.

The records are quite reliable because of their legal nature. Probate records document the transfer of possessions after a person dies. Wills, in particular, were written to ensure that the property and personal estate of a deceased person would be distributed according to his or her wishes. The court would then call in the next of kin and assign them the duty of distributing the goods. The administrator is usually the only person mentioned besides the court officials.

Record Content

Cheshire probate records may contain the following information:

  • Names of relatives receiving an inheritance
  • Names of executor(s)
  • Itemization of household goods and property
  • Date will was written
  • Date will was probated
  • Amounts of money and goods
  • Location where the deceased lived
  • Listing of any debt or funeral expenses to be paid
  • Property names

Probate records after 1858 may contain the following information:

  • Name of individual
  • Location where the deceased lived
  • Names of beneficiaries (usually surviving spouse and children)
  • Name of executor(s)
  • Names of witnesses
  • Date the will was probated
  • Place where will was probated
  • Relative or relatives present at the time of death

How to Use the Records

To begin your search in the probate records, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Approximate year and place of death

Search the Collection

To search by index: Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Use these records to find ancestors’ children and relatives in order to establish relationships that may be more difficult to prove in parish registers, especially before 1813.
  • Use these records to confirm relationships in families where relationships were already established.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community.
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Search the records of nearby localities (or military unties, counties, parishes, etc.).
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Don't overlook FHL Place England, Cheshire items or FHL Keyword England, Cheshire items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see England Archives and Libraries.

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Contributions to This Article

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Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"England, Cheshire Probate Records, 1492-1940." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2014. Citing District Probate Registry. Record Office, Chester.


Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England, Cheshire Probate Records, 1492-1940.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 29 October 2014, at 15:31.
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