Shropshire 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 Shropshire. 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 Shropshire, follow these steps:
Step 1. Search Indexes
Here are some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Shropshire. 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 Shropshire 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 Shropshire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary ecclesiastical court and several secondary ecclesiastical courts.
For a list of Shropshire parishes and the pre-1858 ecclesiastical courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, click on a letter link for the name of a parish:
Search the courts in the order given. Search indexes first. To find indexes, click on a court name above or go to the Probate Indexes section below.
Shropshire Probate Courts
Most of Shropshire (also known as Salop) was under the pre-1858 probate jurisdiction of either the Court of the Bishop of Hereford (Episcopal Consistory) or the Court of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Episcopal Consistory). The majority of probate searches will be in the records of these two courts and their superior courts. However, the following smaller 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 of St Asaph (Episcopal Consistory)
- Court of the Peculiar of the Chancellor of the Choir of the Cathedral in Little Hereford and Ashford Carbonell
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Ruyton-of-the-Eleven-Towns
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Pattingham
- Court of the Peculiar of Wombridge Abbey
- Court of the Prebend of Prees or Pipe Minor
- Court of the Peculiar of the Manor of Ellesmere
- Court of the Royal Peculiar of Bridgnorth
- Court of the Royal Peculiar of St Mary Shrewsbury
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
Registered wills and original wills, administrations and inventories, 1494-1860, and, act books, 1532-1638 for Diocese of Lichfield Episcopal Consistory Court  These are calendars
Original wills, administrations and inventories for the Diocese of Hereford, 1517-1858 
This covers the some of the western and almost all the southern part of the county of Shropshire.
Mynegai i ewyllysiau Llanelwy St. Asaph probate index, 1660-1858 
Abstracts and indexes of original wills, Consistory Court, St. Asaph's Diocese, Wales, 1557-1833 
St Asaph's Diocese covers the parishes of Halston, Kinnerley, Knockin, Llanyblodwel, Llanmynech, Melverley, Morton, Oswestry, St. Martin, Selattyn, Trefonan, Whittington which are in Shropshire, England.
Shropshire probates in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, calendar/index 1700-1749 
A general will index for the Diocese of Lichfield exists online, a scanned edition of P.W. Phillimore's publicationby the British Record Society in 1892,Calendars of wills administrations in the Consistory court of the bishop of Lichfield. This single index consolidates most Staffordshire wills of the various probate court jurisdictions from 1514-1652 for the Diocese of Lichfield and to 1790 for Staffordshire smaller peculiar courts.