England Cheshire Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: England, Cheshire probate records, 1492-1940 .
The date ranges for available Cheshire probate records are from 1492 to 1940.
There are several different types of probate records, but wills are the most informative. Original wills were generally on loose pieces of paper, copies of which were entered into books. Act books are brief paragraphs telling that the executor appeared in court and was approved to distribute the goods as set forth in the will. Administrations are documents created when a person died without leaving a will. Older wills from 1492 through to the late 17th or early 18th century will have varying degrees of legibility. There will also be some Latin in the wills in the middle of the 17th century. Wills probated up to 1857 were handled and kept by the Consistory Court of the Diocese Chester; thereafter (1858-1940) they were handled by the District Probate Registry for Cheshire.
Until 1837 a male as young as 14 and a girl as young as 12 could make a will; thereafter one had to be 21 to make a will. Wills for married women before 1882 are rare because they were not allowed to have property. Those who had land or money, such as merchants, shopkeepers, farmers, or laborers, created wills. About 10% of the heads of households were probated before 1857, but as many as 25% left a will or was mentioned in one. There are about 143,000 names indexed in Cheshire Probate Record indexes.
Probate records document the transfer of possessions after a person dies. Wills, in particular, were written to ensure that the property and personal estate of a deceased person would be distributed according to his or her wishes. The court would then call in the next of kin and assign them the duty of distributing the goods. The administrator is usually the only person mentioned besides the court officials.
The records are quite reliable because of their legal nature.
Cheshire probate records may contain the following information:
- Names of relatives receiving an inheritance
- Names of executor(s)
- Itemization of household goods and property
- Date will was written
- Date will was probated
- Amounts of money and goods
- Location where the deceased lived
- Listing of any debt or funeral expenses to be paid
- Property names
Probate records after 1858 may contain the following information:
- Name of individual
- Location where the deceased lived
- Names of beneficiaries (usually surviving spouse and children)
- Name of executor(s)
- Names of witnesses
- Date the will was probated
- Place where will was probated
- Relative or relatives present at the time of death
How to Use the Records
To begin your search in the probate records, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:
- Name of deceased
- Approximate year and place of death
Search the Collection
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. 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.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
Using the Information
Use these records to find ancestors’ children and relatives in order to establish relationships that may be more difficult to prove in parish registers, especially before 1813. They are also good to confirm relationships in families where relationship is already established.
- Disley, Lyme Handley; Taxal & Whaley in Cheshire
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- Quick Research Links - England
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Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "England, Cheshire Probate Records, 1492-1940" Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. District Probate Registry. Record Office, Chester.
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