England, Durham Probate Bonds (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

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Durham Probate Records: Probate Bonds.

This collection will include records from 1556-1858.

Probate courts deal in the legal administration of wills and estates. Probate bonds are a written guarantee that a person will faithfully perform the tasks assigned to him by a probate court.

This collection comes from the University of Durham. Before being housed by the University, the records were organized by number, although not necessarily chronologically. Up to the year 1738, the number of each bond is prefixed with the letter B. From 1739 onwards, the bonds are divided into two numerical sequences for each year. Administration bonds, relating to the estates of those that died without a will, are prefixed with the letter A. The other group, consisting primarily of will bonds, relating to executors (those assigned to carry out a will), are prefixed with the letter T for testament. Filed with the will bonds are also some tuition and curation bonds, relating to the appointment of guardians for minors.

These records are linked to an index on Durham University's website: http://familyrecords.dur.ac.uk/nei/data/advanced.php

Record Content

Probate bond records may include:

  • Name of testator
  • Name of executor
  • Names of beneficiaries
  • Place of residence
  • Witness name(s)

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.

Using the Information

  • Use the name of the testator, along with the date and place, to locate death records
  • Use the information given in the bond to determine wealth and status
  • Try to locate the names of family members or wards

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name, or variant spellings of the name, before deciding which is correct.
  • 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.

While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, they must be used with caution. For example, they may:

  • Omit the name of the eldest son who received his inheritance according to law; the names of others who had previously received their inheritance; or any deceased family members.
  • Mention children from a spouse’s previous marriage.
  • Mention a spouse who is not the parent of the children named.
  • Give inaccurate relationships of people mentioned in the document
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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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How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

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:

“Durham Probate Records:Probate Bonds. Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org: accessed 2015. Citing Special Collections, Palace Green Library, Durham University, Durham, England.

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 Probate Bonds, 1556-1858.


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  • This page was last modified on 26 May 2015, at 09:37.
  • This page has been accessed 985 times.