Lancashire Probate Records
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Lancashire Probate Courts
- 3 Probate Records of Lancashire Courts
- 4 Explanatory Notes
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 Lancashire. 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 Lancashire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Lancashire. 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 Lancashire 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.
Before 1858, every town and parish in Lancashire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and one or more secondary courts. To see a list of parishes (and chapelries) in Lancashire and the pre-1858 courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link:
Lancashire Probate Courts
- Court of the Bishop of Chester (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Commissary of the Archdeaconry of Richmond Western Deaneries
- Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of York
- Court of the Chancery of the Archbishop of York
- Peculiar Court of Halton Manor
- Exchequer and Prerogative Courts of the Archbishop of York
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.
Probate Records of Lancashire Courts
- MISCELLANEOUS WILLS 1695-1855 Diocese of Chester. Consistory Court
- PROBATE RECORDS 1558-1858, Consistory Court of the Diocese of Chester, 1558-1858 Diocese of Chester. Consistory Court
- PROBATE RECORDS 1466-1860 Archdeaconry of Richmond. Consistory Court (Western Deaneries)
- PROBATE RECORDS, 1521-1858 Church of England. Diocese of Chester. Consistory Court
- PROBATE RECORDS, 1852 Church of England. Prebendal Court (Fordington and Writhlington)
- PROBATE RECORDS, 1374 to 1858 Court of the Exchquer of the Archbishop of York
- PROBATE RECORDS, early to 1858 Court of the Chancery of the Archbishop of York
- PROBATE RECORDS, Court of the Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of York
Probate records of Lancashire commence from as early as 1321 to 1857. The probate court jurisdictions listed below hold extensive probate record coverage not only for Lancashire but for Yorkshire, Cheshire, Durham, and Cumberland. There is only one peculiar or smaller court jurisdictions which pertain to Lancashire parishes.