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Contents

Getting Started

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include wills and administrations. This article is about probate records in Essex. See England Probate Records for a general description of probate records in England.

1858 to the Present

Beginning in 1858, the Principal Probate Registry had the authority for probating estates. Click on the link to learn more.

Before 1858

Before 1858, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Essex, follow these steps:

Step 1. Search Indexes

Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Essex. Search these indexes first:

County-wide general will indexes for Essex County are now available online, making Essex County one of the foremost in facilitating probate research in  England. 

The following sites index significant portions of Essex wills:

The Essex County Record Office previously compiled and published a complete name index covering wills and administrations from the first eight Essex County probate court jurisdictions listed above (through the Liberty of Sokens).  The index is available in three volumes online through the National Wills Index and in book form at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:

Always re-visit these websites as new, updated data may periodically be posted online.

If the indexes on the Internet do not produce possible wills for your ancestors, look in the published indexes listed here.

Other printed indexes are found listed on the court pages.  Click on the court name links above.

Did you find a reference to a probate record?

  • If yes, go to Step 4 below.
  • If no, go to Step 2 below.

Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died

Determine when your ancestor died. If you aren't sure, use an approximate date. 

Determine where your ancestor died. It is easier to find a probate record if you know whether the place where your ancestor lived or died is a parish. To learn whether it is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here are two outstanding topographical dictionaries online:

These gazetteers will either tell you:

  • A place is a parish, or
  • What parish it is a part of, or
  • What place it is near.

If the latter, look that place up in the gazetteer and see if it is a parish.

Once you have identified the parish, go to Step 3.

Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish

Once you have identified the parish where your ancestor lived or died, learn which courts had jurisdiction over it. Then search indexes for those courts. Every town and parish in Sussex fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. Here are links to an alphabetical list of Essex parishes containing a prioritized list of courts with jurisdiction over each.  To see which courts to search for probates of persons living in or owning property in particular parish, click on the letter the parish name begins with.

 A     C   D-F    H-K  L   M-N  O-R  S   T-V  W-Z

Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record

Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:

  • Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.
  • Visit theFamily History Library or a family history center and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below.

Essex Probate Courts

The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over the county of Essex prior to 1858.  Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes. 

Some Explanatory Notes on the Courts in Essex

Probate records for the first eight courts listed above are located at the Essex Record Office. The additional four courts' records are located in Greater London-based record offices (click links to view).

Records and indexes for each court are also available in the collection of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Search the FamilySearch Catalog for the title of the court or the court as an author. 



 

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  • This page was last modified on 18 July 2014, at 23:13.
  • This page has been accessed 22,817 times.