Cumberland Probate RecordsEdit This Page
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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 Cumberland. 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, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Cumberland, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Before looking for a will, you should search a probate index. It will save time and give a reference to finding a copy of a will. A few indexes are mentioned here. Others indexes, especially if they only index the wills for one court, are mentioned on each court page.
- Index to the Wills Proved in the Consistory Court of Carlisle 1661-1750. Part of the National Wills Index.
Indexes are found in archives and in the Family History Library. Click here to see a list of the library's holdings for indexes and wills. Films can be viewed in the library or in a family history center.
Did you find a reference to a will?
- 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 is a link to the 1872 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales online:
The gazetteer 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 Cumberland fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. Click on a link below for the letter the parish begins with.
Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record
Once you have found an index reference to a will or other probate record, 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 the Family 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.
Cumberland Probate Courts
The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over the county of Cumberland prior to 1858. Click on a court name to learn more about its records, indexes and finding a probate for your ancestor. To determine which court, go to the Court_Jurisdictions Court Jurisdictions section above.
- Court of the Bishop of Carlisle (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Richmond Western Deaneries - Copeland
- Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory)
- Exchequer and Prerogative Courts of the Archbishop of York
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury >
Some Explanatory Notes on the Cumberland Probate Courts
The original probate records are housed in one of four record offices in the following cities: Barrow, Kendall, Carlisle, and Whitehaven. Links to these offices are found on the Cumbria Archive Service site.