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
Online Indexes Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Lancashire. Search these indexes first:
- Lancashire Will Index - 1541-1730
- North Lancashire Will index - partial
- Ancestry.com - 1301-1752; some later years for various probate courts are included
- Estate Duty Registers (wills) - indexes from 1796 to 1903
For published indexes see each court jurisdiction (listed below). The latest years of these indexes go only to the year 1807.
For later than 1807, see the Estate Duty Registers' indexes (see above link or, order microfilms available at the Family History Library or 4600 family history centers worldwide). These original indexes were created by the Estate Duty Office (Inland Revenue) for all wills and administrations, which exacted Death Duties (from all probate courts in the country).
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. Or use England Jurisdictions, 1851 to find it on a map, along with information about it. 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:
Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record
Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:
- Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.
- Visit the Family History Library or a family history center and obtain a copy of the record on microfilm. For more information, click on a court name below.
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
- Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury
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.
Raymond, Stuart A. Lancashire: a genealogical bibliography, vol. 2. Registers, inscriptions and wills. Birmingham [England]: Federation of Family History Societies, c 1996-1997.