Thursday, 30 June 2011

Ancestry's English probate collections updated

Two items of news concerning Ancestry and its probate collections for England, which may help if your Scottish ancestors moved south.

The first is the upload of the London, England, Wills and Probate, 1525-1858 collection. Unlike Scotland, England did not have a civil probate system in the aftermath of its reformation, it was instead administered by the Anglican church through a horrific network of church courts until 1858. This collection, sourced from London Metropolitan Archives does not include records from the highest of these courts, the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (you''ll find these at the National Archives Documents Online site, or on the; instead the records come from one or more of the lower courts, though these are unfortunately not identified on Ancestry's description page at, which is something of an oversight which will hopefully be corrected in due course.

Perhaps more relevant for Scots is an update to the English and Welsh National Probate Calendar. John Reid at Anglo-Celtic Connections has picked up on the fact that the gaps in the incomplete calendar entries from 1861-1940 have been almost completely plugged, with the addition of records from 1900-1903 and 1910-1911. There are still entries missing from 1899, and a few after 1858 apparently, but this is a significant enhancement nonetheless.

The collection is particularly useful for Scots if you have ancestors down south, for if they had estate back north in Scotland as well as in England and Wales, a note of the Scottish confirmation (our version of probate) will be included in the English calendar - very handy in that at present the online Scottish wills only go as far as 1901, though there are plans afoot to extend this by a further 25 years in due course.

NB: the National Probate Calendar is the English equivalent of our Calendars of Confirmations and Inventories.

(With thanks to @RosemaryMorgan on Twitter and John Reid)


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