British Columbia Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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British Columbia, Estate Files, 1859-1949 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
British Columbia,  Canada
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Location of British Columbia, Canada
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Record Description
Record Type Probate and Estate
Collection years 1859-1949
Languages English
Title in the Language
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
British Columbia Archives and Records Service


What is in this Collection?

These records include probate estate files for the Judicial Districts of British Columbia. The Records were created by either the County Court or the Supreme Court. The years vary by court and locality, and indexes exist for the following districts, Vancouver and Victoria. The Victoria index is found in this record collection: British Columbia Wills, 1861-1939; Index, 1861-1981.

In British Columbia, estates were probated for perhaps 10 percent of the heads of household before 1900.

The clerk of the court retained all original documents about a case in a probate packet or probate estate papers (also known as estate packets, case files, or estate files). The estate files contain the original wills, petitions, letters, bonds, inventories, settlements, and other records. Some or all of these documents may also have been copied in separate books. Not every locality covers the entire date range or contains every kind of probate record mentioned above.

Probate records were kept by probate or surrogate courts. Often the size of the estate determined which court held jurisdiction. Search the records of all probate courts in all places where the individual had property. Probate and estate files are especially useful when trying to prove a relationship between two or more individuals. To ensure that the property went to the correct person, relationships (such as 'son,' 'aunt,' or 'sister-in-law') were often named in detail. This is ideal for a genealogist who needs proof to move on to the next generation in a family or needs help fleshing out a complete family group. In cases where birth, marriage, and death records began too late, probate and estate records may be completely necessary to prove family connections.

The article Canada Probate Records contains more information about this collection.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for British Columbia Estate Files, 1859-1949.


What Can these Records Tell Me?

Will records may include the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Death place
  • Names of children, spouse and other family members
  • Names of witnesses
  • Date of will (may include death date)

Letters of administration records may include the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Date of death and place of death
  • Name of spouse and children

Collection Content

Sample Images


How Do I Search the Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The name of a relative or date of the event

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page then:

  1. Select the Judicial District/Locality
  2. Select the Court
  3. Select the Record Type, Date Range, File or Volume Numbers

Important: Please note that there are indexes available in this collection of images that were not indexed through FamilySearch. These indexes were handwritten and included in the images found in the individual folders. Find your ancestor's name and look for the page, entry, certificate number or book number next to their name. This will help you find the records you are looking for in this collection.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.


For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • If you haven't already done so, see if you can find your ancestor's death registration for the possibility of more information on his or her death.
  • Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, census, land and marriage records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.


I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name, especially French versions.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of British Columbia, Canada Genealogy.
  • Search in the British Columbia Archives and Libraries.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Catalog

While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, use them with some caution because:

  • They may remove the names of deceased family members or those who previously received an inheritance.
  • The spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned.
  • Relationships noted in the records may not have the same meaning today. (Pay special attention to in-law relationships.)

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"British Columbia, Estate Files, 1859-1949." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing British Columbia Archives and Records Service, Victoria.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for British Columbia, Estate Files, 1859-1949.


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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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.