Herefordshire Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Herefordshire Probate Courts
- 3 Indexes to Probate Records
Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include wills and administrations. This article is about probate records in Herefordshire. For a general description of England probate records, click here.
1858 to the Present
Beginning in 1858, the Principal Probate Registry had the authority for probating estates. Click on the link to learn more.
Before 1858, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Herefordshire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Herefordshire. Search these indexes first:
- http://www.familyhistoryonline.net/database/SussexFHGprobate.shtml -- compiled by the Sussex Family History Group which has transcribed the names of 12,300 individuals found in Sussex wills, including testators, executors, beneficiaries or witnesses. The information recorded includes name, date and place.
- The Sussex Record Society has published four volumes of indexes to Sussex wills, and these can be viewed on their website. They are arranged by parish then by surname.
- Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (1384-1858).
Did you find a reference to a probate record?
- If yes, go to Step 4 below.
- If no, go to Step 2 below.
Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died
Determine when your ancestor died. If you aren't sure, use an approximate date.
Determine where your ancestor died. It is easier to find a probate record if you know whether the place where your ancestor lived or died is a parish. To learn whether it is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here is a link to the 1872 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales online:
The gazetteer will either tell you:
- A place is a parish, or
- What parish it is a part of, or
- What place it is near.
If the latter, look that place up in the gazetteer and see if it is a parish.
Once you have identified the parish, go to Step 3.
Step 3. Identify court jurisdictions by parish
Once you have identified the parish where your ancestor lived or died, learn which courts had jurisdiction over it then search indexes for those courts. Every town and parish in Sussex fell under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and several secondary courts. Click on a link below for the letter the parish begins with.
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
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. Most of Herefordshire was under the 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.