Cambridgeshire Probate Records
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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 Cambridgeshire. 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 Cambridgeshire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Cambridgeshire. Search this index first:
- Archdeaconry of Ely Probate Records 1513-1857. Part of the National Wills Index.
- Consistory Court of Ely Probate Records 1449-1858. Part of the National Wills Index.
- Cambridgeshire Wills Surname Index pre-1858. Established by the Cambridgeshire Family History Society, this index is small but is growing. Contributions are welcome.
See other indexes on the court pages. Click on a court name link in the Cambridgeshire Probate Courts section above.
Did you find a reference to a probate record?
- 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 Cambridgeshire 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 probate, 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 theFamily 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.
Cambridgeshire Probate Courts
Here is a list of the ecclesiastical courts that had some pre-1858 probate jurisdiction over the parishes of Cambridgeshire. Click on a court name for more information. Also see the Indexes section below.
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Ely (Diocese of Ely)
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Norfolk (Diocese of Norwich)
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury (Diocese of Norwich)
- Court of the Bishop of Ely (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Bishop of Norwich (Episcopal Consistory)
- Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Rochester
- Court of the Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
- Court of the Peculiar of Isleham and Freckenham
- Court of the Peculiar of King's College
- Court of the Peculiar Parish of Thorney
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury >