Estate Duty Registers
The Death Duty registers are among the most important genealogical records in England and Wales. Several legacy, residue and succession duty acts between 1796 and 1858 required that a duty (tax) be paid on all bequests and succession to property over a certain value. Duties were deposited with the Legacy Duty Department of the Stamp Office. Very small estates were excluded from paying the required duty. These estate duty or death duty records may add considerable information not found elsewhere.
The problem facing a researcher looking for probate material before 1858 is to know which one of the more than 300 courts administered the desired probate. Records for these courts are housed in many places throughout England. There is no central index. A solution to this problem is to check the indexes to the Estate duty registers. One index covers all of the country courts. Another index covers the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the highest court in England. Many of the wills and administrations which were originally porbated in one of the 300+ courts are indexed in the Estate Duty registers.
Understanding the Records
There were several country courts, so named because they were located outside London. <under construction>
Information In the Records
Estate Duty abstracts may add considerable to what was found in an original will or administration. Among the information is the following.
- Name and address of the deceased
- Date of death
- Place and date of probate
- Names, addresses and occupations of the executors
- Details of estates and related matters
- Amount of the duty paid
The abstracts may also included information about the beneficiaries and about the next-of-kin.
The indexes show:
- Name of the testator or intestate.
- His or her residence.
- Name of the executor.
- Name of the court where originally probated.
- Reference number needed to locate a copy of the will.
How to Find the record
Before 1812, entry numbers were used insteadof folio numbers. The folios are usually given in the top right corner of the page. Entry numbers are written on the page next tothe beginning of each new abstract. Some are difficult to read because of the condition of the original documents.
Please do not attempt to locate an abstract without first searching the indexes. The country court indexes before 1812 are not combined into one. A search must be made in the indexes for each court. After 1811, one index covers all courts.
For More Information
To learn more about these records, read The National Archives (England) online leaflets.
Information is also in the following books.
- Affection Defying the Power of Death: Wills, Probate & Death Duty Records by Jane Cox.
- New to Kew?: a first time guide for family historians at the Public Record Office Kew by Jane Cox.
- Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office by Amada Bevan and Andrea Duncan.
You may be interested in learning more about probates and courts before 1858. There are many articles in the Wiki about probate records and court jurisdictions. To find them, search for the phrase [Name of County] Probate Records.