Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Oxford
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. This article explains about probates and how to get started to search for a will.
Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry.
Step By Step
1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will or administration (admon), writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.
2. Proceed to the "Probate Records of This Court" (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court.
3. Contact or visit the Oxfordshire Record Office or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send a list of record searchers upon request.
4. 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.
Here is a partial index for Oxfordshire wills from 1550-1590
A six volume index covers the years 1762-1800, published by EurekaPartnership, c2002-2008 providing the following content:
v. 1 Persons named in archdeaconry wills proved 1790-1800
v. 2. Persons names in diocesan wills proved 1785-1800
v. 3. Persons named in archdeaconry wills proved 1777-1789
v. 4. Persons named in diocesan wills proved 1774-1784
v. 5. Persons named in diocesan wills proved 1762-1773
v. 6. Persons named in diocesan wills proved 1767-1776.
Family History Library Indexes
Indexes are included with the original and microfilmed records. See also:
- Index to Oxfordshire Wills 1762-1800
Contents: v. 1 Persons named in archdeaconry wills proved 1790-1800 -- v. 2. Persons names in diocesan wills proved, 1785-1800 -- v. 3. Persons named in archdeaconry wills proved 1777-1789 -- v. 4. Persons named in diocesan wills proved 1774-1784 -- v. 5. Persons named in diocesan wills proved 1762-1773 -- v. 6. Persons named in diocesan wills proved 1767-1776.
- Index to the probate records of the Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Oxford, 1733-1857; and of the Oxfordshire peculiars, 1547-1856
- Calendar to Registered Wills & Administrations of Archdeaconry & Consistory Courts 1516-1858
- Probate records of the courts of the Bishop and Archdeacon of Oxford, 1516-1732
The records are deposited at:
St Luke's Church
Oxford OX4 2HT.
Tel: 44 (0)1865 398200
Fax: 44 (0)1865 398201
The records held there include:
- Original wills, 1574-1858 (Consistory) and 1578-1857 (Archdeaconry)
- Register copy wills for both courts, 1528-1644 (with gaps)
- Register copy wills for the Consistory, 1672-1858 (with gaps)
- Register copy wills for the Archdeaconry, 1649-1857 (with gaps)
- Administration bonds, 1542-1857 (Consistory, with gaps early to 1615) and 1554-1857 (Archdeaconry, with gaps early to 1660)
- Administration act books, 1603-1732 (for both courts) and 1732-1857 (with separate books for each court)
- Inventories, 1550-1590 (printed by the Oxfordshire Record Society - OCLC #919569). Others are filed with the original wills and administrations
- Caveat books, 1643-1677
Family History Library Probate
Some records have been microfilmed and available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and through family history centers. They include:
- Wills and administrations, 1528-1857 (for both courts)
- Original Wills 1801-1857
- Calendar to registered wills and administrations of archdeaconry and consistory courts 1516-1858
- Consistory Court Administrations A-Z
- Archdeaconry Court Administrations A-Z 1801-1857
- Administration Act Book, vol. A1-D 1603-1857
- Wills, Inventories, Administrations, vol. 1-5 1733-1853
- Act Book, 1645-1646
- Administrations, 1812-1832
"The Archdeaconry is almost con-terminous with the county [of Oxford], and the diocese covered the same area from its foundation in 1542 until 1836. Berkshire Archdeaconry was transferred to Oxford from Salisbury diocese in 1836, and Buckingham Archdeaconry was transferred to Oxford from Lincoln in 1845. There are, however, very few Berskhire and Buckinghamshire wills of the period 1836-1857 in the Consistory collection.
"The Consistory and Archdeaconry Courts had concurrent jurisdiction throught the area except in the Peculiars... It is not possible to separate the records of the two Courts completely owing to their complicated history; they frequently exployed the same officials. Consistory and Archdeaconry wills are registered in the same volumes to 1644 and grants of administrations to 1732, although the loose records of the courts are filed separately throughout."
- Camp, Anthony J. "Wills and Their Whereabouts," page 105. London: the author, 1974. FHL book 942 S2wa.