Friday, 8 July 2011

London wills on Ancestry - what's included

A few days ago I blogged about the launch of the London wills collection on Ancestry. It is an amazing collection, but the source information was not entirely clear on the site. As such I dropped a note to Ancestry to ask them for clarification, and Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager has very kindly responded with the following information on the ecclesiastical probate courts represented, as sourced from the London Metropolitan Archives.

The courts included are:

Consistory Court of London: DL/C
Commissary Court of London: DL/C/B
Archdeanery Court of London: DL/AL/C
Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex: DL/AM
Peculiar Court of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s: CLC/313/k
Archdeaconry Court of Surrey: DW/PA
Commissary Court of Bishop of Winchester: DW/PC

Courts not included:

Royal Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower: CLC/199/TD
Court of Hustings: CLA/023

The site also states: "These are original wills only and do not include wills or administrations found in will registers or act books which are accessible on site at the London Metropolitan Archives. These do not include wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. "

A full list of pre-1858 probate records holdings at the London Metropolitan Archives for London, Surrey and Middlesex, is available at

The catalogue numbers listed above are for the holdings in the LMA. Miriam has stated that these should be listed in the Source Information to the right of each image on Ancestry, however I have had a look at a few and cannot see the link up, instead it seems to be a MS number only. However Miriam also states "I’m aware that many references start with MS. These too relate to a particular will in a particular court and I’m looking into how to relate these to the LMA’s catalogue number in a simple way."

The key point of all this is to be aware when searching the collection, brilliant though it is, that not all of London's wills and probate materials are included, but hopefully you'll have a better idea of what is there now and what isn't!

For more, see the Society of Genealogists' Else Churchill's post also at

(With a huge thanks to Annabel Reeves and Miriam Silverman at

UPDATE: Miriam has been in touch to confirm that the MS numbers are for wills documents which were sourced from the Guildhall. The numbers are as follows, with the collection being referred to:

MS 9172: Diocese of London, Consistory Court (DL/C/B)
MS 25628: Saint Paul's Cathedral: Peculiar Court (CLC/313)
MS 09052: Archdeaconry Court of London (DL/AL)

(Once again a big thanks to Miriam)


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