Jamaica Probate Records
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While a part of the British Empire, many residents of Jamaica sent their wills to London, England or Edinburgh, Scotland to be proved. Most people's wills were proved locally on the island, and some were proved in courts on both sides of the Atlantic.
A published index to Jamaica testators is available online and in print. It covers wills proved both locally and in London:
- Mitchell, Madeleine Enid. Alphabetical Index to Early Wills of Jamaica, West Indies, 1655-1816: PCC Wills, 1655-1816, Registrar General's Office, Spanish Town, 1662-1750. [Pullman, Wash.]: M.E. Mitchell, 2000. FHL Collection 972.92 P22m; free digital version at Index to Early Wills at Jamaica, 1655-1816.
A list of early Jamaican wills, taken from a manuscript at the British Museum (now the British Library), was published in 1910, and is now available online:
- "Names of Persons whose Wills are registered in Jamaica previous to 1700," Caribeanna, Vol. 1 (1910):103-114. Digitised by dLOC - free.
For a smaller list of microfilmed Jamaican wills available through the Family History Library, see:
- Testators of Wills Proved in Jamaica is a free online index to microfilmed wills covering the years 1756 to 1930.
Indexes to early Jamaica wills proved locally and in London were also published in Caribbeana.
Proved in Jamaica
Noel B. Livingston (writing in 1910), described Jamaica's will and administration records as follows:
- The Governor of the Island, until the passing of the Judicature Law in 1879, was the person to whom application was made for the probate of wills or a grant of administration. In that year also the Records of this Court, which commence shortly after the occupation of the Island by the English, and are in good order, were transferred to and are kept in the Island Record Office. The Inventories of the Estate of the persons on which Probate or Administration were granted are also preserved.
- Since 1879, when the Court of Ordinary was abolished and the Supreme Court of the Colony given the jurisdiction and powers which belonged to the former Court, the records of probates and administrations (since 1879) are kept in the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
Proved in London
Nearly 1500 Jamaican wills were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London. Approximate numbers by century:
After finding a desired entry in indexes, it is now possible to view digital images of the original Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills online at two United Kingdom pay-per-view websites:
- Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills (1384-1858), courtesy: The National Archives, UK. The database can be queried by testator's residence, such as "Jamaica."
- PCC Wills Index and Images (1384-1858), courtesy: The Genealogist. (in progress)
Proved in Edinburgh
The wills of some Jamaica residents were proved in Edinburgh, Scotland, see:
- Dobson, David. Scottish-American Wills, 1650-1900. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. FHL 973 P22 Over 2,000 citations including name, occupation, residence, and date.
Most of these references were taken from the Commissariat Court of Edinburgh (now the Sheriff Court of Edinburgh) and the Index to Personal Estates of Defuncts, 1846-1866. If you find a will abstact that interests you in Dobson's book, it is now possible to view digital images of the original records online at a United Kingdom pay-per-view website:
- Wills & Testaments (1513-1901), courtesy: Scotlands People
- Noel B. Livingston, 'Records of Jamaica,' Caribbeana, Vol. 1 (1910):135. Digitised by dLOC - free.
- "The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Wills," accessed 22 November 2010. Some references refer to places named Jamaica in the British Isles, rather than the island in the Caribbean.