England, Diocese of Durham Original Wills (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.


Record Description

This collection will include original wills from 1650-1857. These records will be linked to an index on the Durham University's website: http://familyrecords.dur.ac.uk/nei/data/advanced.php probate records.

Although many will records before the 17th century are hard to come by, most of the records since then are originals and have kept their validity. The date of the testator's death was often used to endorse wills from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition, some original wills were made simply by the testator filling in a pre-printed form with their desires in regards to the disposal of their estates.

Durham is a county in North East England near the German Ocean. The name "Durham" comes from the Old English "dun", meaning hill, and the Old Norse "holme", which translates to island. It is about 40 miles in length and 30 miles in width. This county was formerly under the special jurisdiction of the Bishop of Durham.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Diocese of Durham Original Wills.

Record Content

England, Durham Probate Records, Orginal Wills Consistory Court of Durham DGS 004050665 1.jpg

Wills usually include:

  • Surname and Given Name of the Participant
  • Age and/or Birthdate of Participant
  • Gender of Participant
  • Residence
  • Occupation
  • Marital Status
  • Surname and Given Name of Spouse
  • Names of Children
  • Name and Address of Beneficiary
  • Name of Executor of the Will

How to Use the Record

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor's given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, and family relationships. 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.

Search the Collection

To search by image:

To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the "Reference number" category which takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. 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.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community.
  • Continue to search the images and records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives.
  • Look for an index either at the beginning or the end of the images.
  • Be aware that errors (such as name spelling) still may have occurred in the documents, especially if the document was not written up by the testator.
  • Search the records of nearby localities (Northumberland on the North, Cumbria on the West, Westmorland on the East and North Yorkshire on the South).
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Don't overlook FHL Place England, Durham items or FHL Keyword England, Durham 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

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

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 Diocese of Durham Original Wills.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org: accessed 2014. Citing Special Collections, Palace Green Library, Durham University, Durham.

Image Citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Durham, Diocese of Durham Original Wills, 1650-1857.


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  • This page was last modified on 3 February 2015, at 23:51.
  • This page has been accessed 1,720 times.