Australia, Victoria, Index to Probate Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: Australia, Victoria, Index to Probate Registers, 1841-1989 .

Record Description

This collection of probate registers from the State of Victoria covers the years 1841-1989.

The collection consists of an index to probate registers for Victoria located in the Public Record Office in Melbourne, Australia. Most of the documentation listed in the probate registers are wills handwritten in narrative form.

Probate records are court records created after an individual's death that relate to a court's decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of dependents. This takes place regardless of whether there is a will or not. The Probate Registry is responsible for determining, on application for a grant of representation, what document or documents constitute the last will of the deceased and/or who is entitled to be the personal representative of the deceased. When these determinations have been made, a grant is issued to the estate of the deceased person.

Record History

The probates and wills in this collection were kept and recorded by several different government offices over time (Supreme Court of N.S.W. for the District of Port Phillip; Master of Equity, Supreme Court; Master of the Supreme Court; and Registrar of Probates, Supreme Court). The probates and wills were subsequently archived in the Public Record Office Victoria where they have been maintained in two separate series: Probate and Administration Files (Series VPRS 28) and Wills (VPRS 7591). The wills in this collection were originally among the estate papers in a probate application but were subsequently separated. The most recent probate records (2002 and later) are available only from the Victorian Probate Office.

Record Content

Sample Probate Record

Probate Records may contain the following information:

  • Name of testator
  • Death date
  • Place of residence and address
  • Occupation
  • Date of testament
  • Declaration
  • Names of children or heirs
  • Name of spouse
  • Name of administrator of will
  • Guardians and relationships
  • Nature of grant
  • Witnesses

How to Use the Record

Depending on the length or type of testament one can find genealogical information to extend research for additional generations of ancestors. Wills may provide historical family information not found elsewhere. They are often the only record for the time period before census records became available, where all members of a family might be listed, or before the civil registration was implemented.

While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, they must be used with caution. Some family information may not be complete or may be omitted; such as the mention of children from a previous marriage; it may give inaccurate relationships of people mentioned in the document or omit the names of others that may had previously received their inheritance, etc.

To search this collection, it would be helpful to know the following information: To begin your search, it is helpful to know the name and some other identifying information such as the birth place or birth date.

Search the Collection

To search by index: 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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

To search by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒Select the appropriate "Surname Range" which takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. 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.

When searching:
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor's given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Use the estimated age to calculate a birth date.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • You may need to search using a nickname.
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
  • Search the records of nearby localities (Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia)
  • Most genealogical records found in Australia are in English. However, due to immigrants coming from various countries throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, variations in spelling may appear in many of the records. See Australia Language and Languages for further help.
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Don't overlook FHL Place Australia, Victoria items or FHL Keyword Australia, Victoria items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see Australia Archives and Libraries.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

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.

Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information (often called citing your sources). This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation

" Australia, Victoria Probate Registers, 1841-1989" Index and Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2014. Citing Public Record Office of Victoria, Melbourne.

Record citation

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Australia, Victoria, Index to Probate Registers, 1841-1989.

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 Australia, Victoria, Index to Probate Registers, 1841-1989.