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AUTHORED BY RUSSELL JAMES (FROM ANCESTRY.CO.UK)
Ancestry.co.uk’s biggest release of the year officially went online. The National Probate Calendar will help you uncover details of your ancestors’ wealth, social standing and even their hobbies and interests, plus point you in the direction of further family members. It’s now available for everyone to search online for the first time.
We’ve put together a complete guide to using this comprehensive collection, complete with step-by-step instructions. However, I’ll sum up why it’s so important here.
Every time a person dies, a court appoints someone to distribute their property. This process is called probate, and since 1858 it has been the sole responsibility of the Principal Probate Registry.
For many years, the Registry kept summaries of all its cases in calendars. These calendars, for most years between 1861 and 1941, are the records that you can now search at our site. This means there’s an entry for the vast majority of people who died in that period.
Find an ancestor in these records, and you’ll discover their full name, their date and place of death, and the executor of their will – often another family member. Crucially, you’ll also find the value of their estate, revealing whether your family lived in luxury or squalor.
That’s not all. Once you’ve pinpointed a member of your family in the Calendar, you can use its information to order copies of all their other probate records, usually including a will, direct from the Probate Office. Find out more.
We’ll be interested to hear how you get on with the records – please let us know in the comments below. I found three of my ancestors within five minutes of logging on this morning – I’m now trying to work out where all the money listed in their wills has disappeared to!