Herefordshire Probate Records
The following article is about probate records in the county of Herefordshire. For general information about English probate records, click here.
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. The Probates After 1857 section below has a link to an article about probates after 1857.
Follow these steps to look for a probate record before 1858:
- Discover when and where your ancestor died. If you don’t know, use the approximate date and place where they lived.
- Go to the Court Jurisdictions section below.
- Click a letter or span of letters for your place. This opens an article showing a table of places and the courts that had jurisdiction over them.
- Follow the steps at the top of the table to search for a will.
Court Jurisdictions by Parish
Before 1858, every town and parish in Herefordshire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary ecclesiastical court and one or more secondary ecclesiastical courts.
For a list of Herefordshire parishes and the pre-1858 courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link:
If you do not know the parish in which your ancestor died or held property, search the Court of the Bishop of Hereford (Episcopal Consistory) first.
Herefordshire Probate Courts
Most of Herefordshire was under the pre-1858 probate jurisdiction of the Court of the Bishop of Hereford (Episcopal Consistory). The majority of probate searches will be in the records of this court and its superior courts. However, the following courts also had some pre-1858 jurisdiction within the county. Click on a court name to learn about records and indexes.
- Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Dean of Hereford
- Court of the Archdeaconry of Breconshire
- Court of the Bishop of St. David's (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Peculiar of Moreton Magna or Moreton on Lugg
- Court of the Peculiar of Upper Bullinghope or Upper Bullingham
- Court of the Peculiar of Little Hereford & Ashford Carbonell
In addition, the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the whole of England and specifically in the following cases.
- Wealthy individuals
- Interregnum, 1649-1660, because the Prerogative Court was the only court.
- Property in more than one diocese in the Province of Canterbury.
- Property in both the Province of Canterbury and Province of York.
- People who died outside England, including British citizens and others who held property in England.
Any probate that was disputed and could not be settled by the county courts could be sent to these higher appeals courts:
The Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury also served as an appeals court.
Indexes to Probate Records
In addition to the probate indexes listed below, indexes are also found with the records of the courts. Click on the court links above.
Probate Indexes Online
Before looking for a will, you should search an index. 
- Abstracts of Herefordshire Probate Records Herefordshire Wills Collections. This page provides details of compilations of Herefordshire Probate Records (Wills), either partial abstracts or indexes, online and in printed collections. 
- Probate Records for Ledbury are available at this website 
Estate Duty Records
Starting in 1796, a tax or death duty was payable on estates over a certain value. Estate duty abstracts may add considerable information not found elsewhere. Estate duty indexes may help locate a will. For more information, go to Estate Duty Records.
Probates After 1857
Beginning in 1858, the government took over the settlement of estates and all wills are now probated through the Principal Probate Registry system. For more information, go to Principal Probate Registry.