Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of CanterburyEdit This Page

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Contents

Description

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858.

As the highest ecclesiastical court, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.

  • Wealthy individuals
  • The Interregnum, 1649-1660, when all other courts were abolished.
  • Property in more than one diocese in the Province of Canterbury.
  • Property in both the Province of Canterbury and Province of York.
  • People who died outside England, including British citizens and others who held property in England.

Indexes

Online Records and Indexes

Wills of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 1384-1858 are available online on three websites:

  1. The National Archives of the UK on Documents Online - When you find a reference to a will of interest, you can purchase it online through the Web site by clicking on 'See details' then on 'Add to shopping.' The cost is a straight fee of 3.50 GBP, regardless of the length of the document.
  2. TheGenealogist.co.uk - Pay site. Actual images of the wills are available. The Genealogist
  3. Ancestry.co.uk - England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. Subscription website.

Printed and Published Indexes

Indexes for 1383-1858 are published in several volumes. The records and indexes for 1383-1857 are also available on microfilm at the Family History Library.

Printed will indexes available for free online:

  1. 1383-1558 (surnames A to J)
  2. 1383-1558 (surnames K to Z)
  3. 1558-1583
  4. 1584-1604
  5. 1605-1619
  6. 1620-1629
  7. 1657-1660
  8. 1671-1675
  9. 1686-1693
  10. 1694-1700

Printed administration indexes available for free online:

  1. 1559-1571

Printed probate act indexes available for free online:

  1. 1630-1634
  2. 1645-1649
  3. 1652-1653

Printed sentence indexes available for free online:

  1. 1630-1639

Records

Archive Location

The records are deposited at The National Archives.

Archive Records

  • Wills, 1513-1858 (with a few earlier)
  • Register copy wills, 1383-1858
  • Administration bonds, 16th-19th centuries
  • Various act books, 1526-1858
  • Inventories, 1464-1782 (with gaps; and some later records)

Family History Library Records

The FamilySearch Catalog provides the microfilm numbers so you can borrow them through a family history center near you. The information obtained from the index[es] will help you more quickly locate a will or administration.

Archive Records

Add information about the manuscript, printed and digital records in this location.

Archbishop's Registers

Years Bishop FHL Film Book Online
1207-1228 Stephen Langton Cant. & York Soc. 50
1279-1292 John Pecham 1473357 Cant. & York Soc. 63, 65
1294-1313 Robert Winchelsey 1473357 Cant. & York Soc. 51, 52
1313-1327 Walter Reynolds 1473358
1349-1366 Simon Inslip 1473358
1366-1368 Simon Langham 1473359
1368-1374 William Whittlesey 1473359
1375-1381 Simon Sudbury 1473359
1381-1396 William Courtenay 1473360
1396-1414 Thomas Arundel 1473361
1414-1442 Henry Chichele Vol. I 1473362 Cant. & York Soc. 42, 45, 46, 47
1415-1443 Henry Chichele Vol. II 1473363 Cant. & York Soc. 42, 45, 46, 47
1443-1452 John Stafford 1473364
1452-1454 John Kempe 1473364
1454-1486 Thomas Bourgchier 1473364 Cant. & York Soc. 54
1486-1500 John Morton 1473365 Cant. & York Soc. 75, 78, 89
1501-1503 Henry Deane 1473365
1503-1532 William Warham 1473366
1559-1575 Matthew Parker 1473368 Cant. & York Soc. 35, 36, 39
1576-1583 Edmund Grindal 1473369
1583-1591 John Whitgift Vol. I 1473370
1591-1592 John Whitgift Vol. II 1473371
1592-1604 John Whitgift Vol. III 1473371
1604-1610 Richard Bancroft 1473372
1611-1618 George Abbott Vol. I 1473373
1619-1633 George Abbott Vol. II 1473374
1633 George Abbott Vol. III 1473374
1633-1645 William Laud 1473375

Jurisdiction

The Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury (PCC) had superior jurisdiction in all of England, Wales, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands and sole jurisdiction where testators had bona notabilia (an estate valued at more than five pounds sterling) in two dioceses or in two peculiars in the province of Canterbury or within two provinces (i.e., York and Canterbury). The Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also had jurisdiction over all those with property in England, Wales, Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands who dies at sea or overseas. Such persons are distinguished in the calendars by the entry "pts," abbreviation for " parts overseas." instead of the name of the place. During the Commonwealth period from 1653 to 1660 the court, in the form of a civil court, had sole testamentary jurisdiction over all of England and Wales.

Since the Reformation it has been usual for the estates of men of wealth and position to receive grants of probate and letters of administration in this court. During vacancies in this court between 997 and 1590, some wills were proved in the Court of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral (also known as the Court of the Prior and Chapter of Christ Church), Canterbury, Kent.

Business in most London probate courts slowed down after the 1750s - their testators selecting the Prerogative Court of Canterbury as the place to file their wills. The Bank of England would not accept wills from any other court.[1]

References

  1. Cliff Webb, My Ancestors were Londoners: A Guide to London Sources for Family Historians (London: Society of Genealogists, 2009), 35.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 28 December 2014, at 01:12.
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