Tracing Immigrants Origin Probate Records
Probate records in the country of origin can be a very valuable source for finding the emigrant's place of origin. Probate jurisdictions covered wide areas, and the records are usually well indexed. If the emigrant still held property in the homeland when he or she died, a probate record should exist in the records of that country. If the emigrant still had family in the country of origin, he or she may be named in a relative's probate.
Published probate information is often available for early years in both the country of origin and the country of arrival. Excellent examples include—
Coldham, Peter Wilson. English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1857. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980-81. (FHL book 942 P2cpw.)
Waters, Henry F. Genealogical Gleanings in England: Abstracts of Wills Relating to Early American Families. 2 vols., reprint 1901, 1907. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981. (FHL book 942 D2wh 1981).
South Africa maintained death notices that were included in a decased person's estate file. These are full of information such as the deceased's place of birth or origin, parents' names, and children's names. They are easily accessible due to their arrangement.