British And Irish Indexes Online
by Nathan W. Murphy, MA, AG®
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Probate records and parish registers are the most valuable genealogical sources in pre-Victorian Great Britain and Ireland. Like parish registers, the creation of probate records fell under the jurisdiction of state churches. In England and Wales, the Church of England held this responsibility until 1858; in Ireland, the Church of Ireland until 1857; and in Scotland, the Presbyterian Church until 1823.
In England and Wales, single villages and towns belonged to multiple probate jurisdictions. Several jurisdictions existed in each county making it necessary to search a variety of probate courts in order to locate wills, inventories, and administrations. Some align with boundaries of dioceses (consistory courts), others with old monasteries (peculiars).
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City provides free-online guides to searching probate records. Click on the nation of interest to learn more: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Under the table of contents of each place, click on the section titled “Probate Records” to learn idiosyncrasies between the English, Irish, Scots, and Welsh record-keeping practices.
The following table identifies which probate courts have been indexed and are searchable online. It will be updated as new indexes become available. Click on titles of probate courts for links to web sites. Most of these web sites require subscriptions. Our researchers are experts in finding and reading old wills. If you find an old will that you’d like to obtain, they can help you upon request.