Court of the Bishop of Canterbury
Step By Step
1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will, writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.
2. Proceed to "Records" (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court.
3. Contact or visit the Hampshire Record Office or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send upon request a list of record searchers.
4. You can visit The Family History Library, or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes to probate records; then with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons also on microfilm via any centers near you.
Online indexes are available at the following three websites:
- The East Kent Archealogical Society has created online indexes to East Kent probate records from 1396-1858.
- Wills have been created for the "names of...people appearing in the wills of testators residing in the County of Surrey, England (and nine other Counties)." It is known as The Surrey Plus Wills Index. Currently it is a partial index to Surrey Wills.
- British Origins has an index of over 500,000 entries for the Surrey and London region from 1470 to 1856 (a subscription website).
Printed and Published Indexes
The West Surrey Family History Society (Cliff Webb) has produced a significant number of indexes to County Surrey wills and other probate records. See their website for further details on their excellent publications.
Click here for a list of printed indexes found in the Family History Library.
The records of the Court of the Archdeaconry of Surrey for 1480-1858 are found at:
Centre for Kentish Studies
Maidstone ME14 1XQ
Tel. 01622 694363
Fax: 01622 694379
The records include probate and administration act books, original wills and registered wills, as well as indexes.
Act Books 1542-1858
Original Copy Wills 1538-1857
Register Copy Wills 1396-1857 (some missing years)
Accounts & Inventories 1569-1604
Testamentary Cause Papers 1595-1646
Index to Wills 1396-1857
Testamentary Bonds 1667-1672
Temporary Administrations (Admons) 1600-1678
Account Papers 1605-1690
Testamentary Bonds 1660-1857
Inventory Paprers 1596-1748
Affidavits, depositions, interrogations, visitation books 1555-1857
Family History Library Records
The Family History Library has probate records (with indexes) on microfilm, microfiche and in print. Those available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City include copies and abstracts of the records for 1484-1821.
- Act Books 1542-1858
- Original Copy Wills 1538-1857
- Register Copy Wills 1396-1857 (some missing years)
- Accounts & Inventories 1569-1604
- Inventories 1396-1857
- Testamentary Cause Papers 1595-1646
- Index to Wills 1396-1857
- Testamentary Bonds 1667-1672
- Temporary Administrations (Admons) 1600-1678
- Account Papers 1605-1690
- Caveats 1627-1809
- Renunciation Papers
- Affidavits 1829-1857
- Testamentary Bonds 1660-1857
- Inventory Paprers 1596-1748
- Affidavits, depositions, interrogations, visitation books 1555-1857
The Court of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) of Canterbury had primary jurisdiction over many parishes in the eastern part of Kent, from Maidstone eastward. The remaining eastern parishes were under the primary jurisdiction of the Archdeacon of Canterbury (who received his authority from the Bishop of Canterbury).
The Commissary-General of the Archbishop of Canterbury was the judge of the Court of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) of Canterbury. He exercised probate jurisdiction within the diocese of Canterbury, and he also exercised the Archbishop’s prerogative throughout the diocese. Therefore, records of probate that would have normally gone through the Archbishop's court, will be found in the records of the Court of the Bishop of Canterbury, particularly before 1759.