Wales, Probate Abstracts (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: Wales, Probate Abstracts, 1564-1858 .

Collection Time Period

This collection covers records for the years 1564 to 1858.

Record Description

This is a collection of abstracts of wills and administrations originally recorded in the six consistory courts, including the dioceses of:

  • Bangor
  • Brecon
  • Hawarden
  • Llandaff
  • St. Asaph
  • St. David's

The abstracts were created from microfilming done at the National Library of Wales. Information in the abstracts was extracted, independently checked and proof-read. They are an excellent working guide to the names, relationships and place names contained in the original documents. Images of original wills and administrations are available on the National Library of Wales website. This collection is being published as images become available.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

Consistory Courts in Wales. Wales, Probate Abstracts. National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales.

Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.

Record Content

Probate extracts generally include the following:

Wales Llandaff Probate Abstracts (10-0779) DGS 4664464 131.jpg
  • Name of the deceased
  • Residence
  • Type of document
  • Death date
  • Probate date
  • Burial place
  • Names of heirs such as spouse, children, guardians, and other relatives or friends along with their relationship to the deceased and their resedence.

How to Use the Record

To begin your search, you will need to know the following:

  • Name
  • Residence
  • Approximate death or probate date

Search the Collection

To search the collection select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒Select the Diocese ⇒Select the Diocese which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s abstract, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the occupations listed to find employment records or other types of records such as land records, tax records, or military records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • The records are quite reliable because of their legal nature.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
  • Probate records may not give an exact death date, but a death most often occurred within a few months of the date of probate. Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date.
  • Compile the entries for every person who lived in the same parish as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • The contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law, local customs and the personality of the record keeper.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
  • Although extracts are often easier to locate and to read than the actual probate documents, it is always a good idea to also read the original probate documents as small details are often omitted from extracts.
  • Probate records may omit the name of the eldest son who received his inheritance according to law, others who previously received their inheritance, or deceased family members.
  • Probate records may mention children who are from a spouse’s previous marriage or mention a spouse who is not the parent of the children named.
  • Transcription errors may have occurred.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Remember that the patronymic naming system was used in Wales. The adoption of fixed surnames did not happen at one time for all families or the country as a whole.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
  • Search the indexes of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

General Information About Probate Records

Although any person, regardless of class or wealth, may have left a will or might be mentioned in one, wills were made primarily by the middle and upper classes, mostly by males with property. Before 1882, a wife who died before her husband could not make a will except with her husband’s consent or under a marriage settlement created before her marriage. A widow, however, could make a will.

Before 1750, heirs often did not prove wills to avoid court costs. The will was often kept in case someone later objected to the distribution of the property. As a result, sometimes wills were probated decades after the testator’s death. Some archives have collections of unproved wills. Others may be among family papers.

Until 1833 real property could be entailed. This specified how property would be inherited in the future. An entail prevented subsequent inheritors from bequeathing the property to anyone except the heirs specified in the entail.

The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth holds the original wills proved in Welsh ecclesiastical courts and has published images online.

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.

Abstracts are created to summarize the details of the will or probate documents.

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Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"Wales, Probate Abstracts, 1773-1780." digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch : accessed 25 April 2012). Llandaff Diocese > Probate Abstracts, 1773-1780 > Image 61 of 184 ; entry for David John; dated 17 June 1773; citing Probate Abatracts National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales.