Norfolk Probate Records
|Norfolk Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
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 Norfolk. 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 Norfolk, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Norfolk. Search these indexes first:
Probate Indexes available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:
Did you find a reference to a probate record?
Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died
Determine when your ancestor died. If you aren't sure, use an approximate date. The on-line will index at NROCAT is very helpful in finding wills in Norfolk for pre-1858 wills. It is not always necessary to know where or when an ancestor died when using nrocat. Since spelling of names in early records was not consistent, entering only the surname of your ancestor will generate the most posibilities of identifying your ancestor. Searches using spelling variations of the surname will also be helpful in finding possible entries for your ancestor. If you cannot identify an entry for your ancestor in this on-line index, you will want to try to determine at least an approximate death date and place.
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:
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 Norfolk 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.
To see a list of Norfolk places and the pre-1858 courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link:
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:
Norfolk Probate Courts
These courts had some pre-1858 jurisdiction over the county of Norfolk. Click on a court name for more information about the records available and how to find the probate of your ancestor in the court's records.