Browse through thousands of wills and probate records from Leicestershire. Wills are an excellent resource for family historians because they can shed light on your ancestor’s wealth, provide the names of numerous family members, and tell you the date of your ancestor’s death.
The will and probate records are organised by year range and type. Search for a specific year you would like to view and then select which piece is relevant for your search. If you wish to search for your ancestor by name, search the Leicestershire Wills and Probate Records, 1500-1939 which are available in Useful links and resources.
There are various types of records included in this collection, but most will give you the deceased person's name, the year the will was written, the year the will was proved, the deceased's residence, and detail's about their estate and to whom their belongings have been bequeathed.
Types of records
Administrations are created when the deceased person did not leave a will or if some of the deceased’s belongings are not settled through a will.
Inventories provide a full list of all the deceased’s belongings and property along with the value of each and, in most cases, to whom it has been bequeathed.
Probate or probate act records are official documentation recording that the deceased’s will was proved and registered and that the administration of the estate was passed on to the named person(s) in the will. The register also provides the date, place, and value of the deceased’s estate.
Probate registry gives you a full copy of the original will. A will may include the names of numerous family members and their relationship to the deceased, as well as the deceased’s place of residence, a description of the deceased’s estate, the date of the will, and, in some cases, the date of death.
A will, formally known as a last will and testament, is a legal document of a person’s requests for the distribution of his or her property upon death. The will year is the year that the will was recorded, not the year of death. After a person dies, the will must be proved, which gives the executor(s) of the will formal permission to proceed with the requests of the will.
Wills are a critical resource for family historians as they not only shed light on your ancestor’s wealth but may also allow you to extract the names of many family members and associates to whom belongings or money were given.
Prior to 1858, church or ecclesiastical courts were responsible for authorising all matters related to probate cases. After 1858, probate cases were dealt with by the district registry. In the Leicestershire Wills and Probate Records, 1500-1939 you will discover records from the ecclesiastical courts and the Leicester District Registry. The ecclesiastical courts include the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the highest court, and the Archdeaconry of Leicester. Additionally, there are a small number of records from the Doctors’ Commons, this was a small civil law court presided over by a society of lawyers. All the original documents are retained by the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland.
For additional help in understanding the terms used within a will and its attendant records, we have provided a glossary of probate terms, which you can access from the Useful links and resources section.