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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Probate Records Gotoarrow.png  Colonial Probate Records

Probate matters for the original English colonies were handled under English law. Under English common law, a married woman could only make a will of real property with her husband's consent or with an antenuptial contract. Some colonial records were kept by the town or the colony.

Some important sources for these colonial records are:

Proved in London
American wills and administrations proved in London have been abstracted and published multiple times. Each edition is listed here, as some are available online, while others are not. In addition, publishers included more detailed abstracts in some editions than others. The 2007 edition includes a place-name index that enables users to pluck out references to specific colonies or states:

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1699. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1700-1799. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980. Digital version of 1991 reprint available at Ancestry ($).
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1800-1858. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. American Wills & Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1857. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989. FHL 942 P27c; digital version at Ancestry ($). Lists over 4,800 wills with name, residence, relatives, and date.
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. American Wills Proved in London, 1611-1775. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. FHL 973 P27ca; digital version at Ancestry ($). Abstracts over 6,800 wills showing name, residence, occupation, date, and relatives.
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. North American Wills Registered in London, 1611-1857. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007. FHL 942 P27c 2007

If you find a will absrtact that interests you in Coldham's books, it is now possible to view digital images of the original Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills online at two United Kingdom pay-per-view websites:

Proved in Edinburgh
Other American wills were proved in Edinburgh, Scotland, see:

  • Dobson, David. Scottish-American Wills, 1650-1900. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. FHL 973 P22 Over 2,000 citations including name, occupation, residence, and date.

Most of these references were taken from the Commissariat Court of Edinburgh (now the Sheriff Court of Edinburgh) and the Index to Personal Estates of Defuncts, 1846-1866. If you find a will abstract that interests you in Dobson's book, it is now possible to view digital images of the original records online at a United Kingdom pay-per-view website:


 

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