Somerset Probate Records

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"All probate records of the Diocese of Bath and Wells which had been deposited in the Probate Registry at Exeter were destroyed there in 1942.&nbsp; The records destroyed were those of the Consistory Court of Bath and Wells, the Archdeaconry Courts of Wells and Taunton, the Consistory Courts of the Dean and Chapter and of the Dean [of Wells], the Peculiar Courts of the Precentor, the Chancellor and Sub-Dean of Wells, the Royal Peculiar Court of Ilminister, and the various Prebendary Courts."<ref>Camp, Anthony J., ''Wills and Their Whereabouts,'' London: by the author, 1974. FHL book 942 S2wa, page 116.</ref>  
 
"All probate records of the Diocese of Bath and Wells which had been deposited in the Probate Registry at Exeter were destroyed there in 1942.&nbsp; The records destroyed were those of the Consistory Court of Bath and Wells, the Archdeaconry Courts of Wells and Taunton, the Consistory Courts of the Dean and Chapter and of the Dean [of Wells], the Peculiar Courts of the Precentor, the Chancellor and Sub-Dean of Wells, the Royal Peculiar Court of Ilminister, and the various Prebendary Courts."<ref>Camp, Anthony J., ''Wills and Their Whereabouts,'' London: by the author, 1974. FHL book 942 S2wa, page 116.</ref>  
  
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== Estate Duty Records<br> ==
 
== Estate Duty Records<br> ==

Revision as of 20:51, 6 January 2010

England Gotoarrow.png Somerset

The following article is about probate records in the county of Somerset. For general information about English probate records, click here.

Contents

Description

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.

Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry. The Probates After 1857 section below has a link to an article about probates after 1857.

Getting Started

Follow these steps to look for a probate record before 1858:

  1. Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
  2. Go to the Court Jurisdictions section below.
  3. Click a letter or span of letters for your place. This opens an article showing a table of places and the courts that had jurisdiction over them.
  4. Follow the steps at the top of the table to search for a will.

Court Jurisdictions by Parish

Before 1858, every town and parish in Somerset was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary ecclesiastical court and one or more secondary ecclesiastical courts.  For a list of Somerset places and the ecclesiastical courts that had pre-1858 juridiction over them, click on a letter link:

 A  B  C  D  E-J  K-M  N-R  S-T  U-Z


Somerset Probate Courts

The following ecclesiastical courts had some probate jurisdiction over Somerset prior to 1858. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.

In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.

  • Wealthy individuals
  • People who owned property in more than one county
  • Military and naval personnel
  • People who lived or owned property outside England

Appeals Courts

Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:

The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also served as an appeals court.


Probate Indexes

Before looking for a will, you should search an index. Here is a list of published indexes with broad coverage. (Other indexes will be found on the court pages.  Click on the court links above.)

Online Indexes

Here is a list of online indexes.

This site is concerned with family and social history in the Hundred of Frome. This consisted of the parishes of Beckington, Berkley, Cloford, Elm, Frome Selwood, Laverton, Lullington, Marston Bigot, Nunney, Orchardleigh, Rode (Road), Rodden, Standerwick, Wanstrow, Whatley and Woolverton. It also included the adjacent Liberties of East Cranmore, Leigh upon Mendip, Mells and Witham Friary and the Peculiar of Buckland Dinham (see map). 

Information about Somerset Probate Records:


Some Explanatory Notes about the Somerset Probate Courts

"All probate records of the Diocese of Bath and Wells which had been deposited in the Probate Registry at Exeter were destroyed there in 1942.  The records destroyed were those of the Consistory Court of Bath and Wells, the Archdeaconry Courts of Wells and Taunton, the Consistory Courts of the Dean and Chapter and of the Dean [of Wells], the Peculiar Courts of the Precentor, the Chancellor and Sub-Dean of Wells, the Royal Peculiar Court of Ilminister, and the various Prebendary Courts."[1]


  1. Camp, Anthony J., Wills and Their Whereabouts, London: by the author, 1974. FHL book 942 S2wa, page 116.

Estate Duty Records

Starting in 1796, a tax or death duty was payable on estates over a certain value. Estate duty abstracts may add considerable information not found elsewhere. Estate duty indexes may help locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.


Probates After 1857

Beginning in 1858, the government took over the settlement of estates and all wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system. For more information, go to Principal Probate Registry.