The Historic Wills Index

Your search for your Freer ancestor may take you to England. Looking for wills in England before 1858 presents unique problems since probate was a matter for the ecclesiastical courts (of which there were more than 300). The various English probate courts that existed before 1858 and were administered by the church did not follow exact county boundaries. Often times, one court within a diocese was superior to various lower courts and hadconcurrent jurisdiction. This meant that each probate court cou ld cover several counties, and each county was covered by a number of probate courts. To further complicate matters, the jurisdiction could shift from one diocese toanother as new dioceses were created or expanded.

Anyone looking for wills, will find it necessary to consult maps on the jurisdictions of the various courts as well as indexes that cover large geographic areas (and many years). The first part of this chapter helps you with this tremendous task by providing you with a listing of the various English probate districts as arranged by county, diocese, and probate court.


English Probate Courts - Arranged by County

County      Diocese     Probate Court                     Date
Bedford     Lincoln     Archdeaconry of Bedford           to 1837
Bedford     Ely         Archdeaconry of Bedford           1837-1858
Bedford     Lincoln     Peculiar of Biggleswade           to 1837
Bedford     Ely         Peculiar of Biggleswade           1837-1858
Bedford     Lincoln     Peculiar of Leighton Buzzard      to 1837
Bedford     Peculiar    Leighton Buzzard                  1837- 1858
Bedford     Lincoln     Archdeaconry of Huntingdon        to 1837
Bedford     Ely         Archdeaconry of Huntingdon        1837 - 1858
Berkshire   Sarum       Archdeaconry of Berkshire         to 1858
Berkshire   Sarum       Consistory of Sarum               to 1836
Berkshire   Oxford      Consistory of Oxford              1836 - 1858
Berkshire   Sarum       Peculiar of Dean of Sarum         to 1858
Berkshire   Sarum       Peculiar of D & C of Windsor      to 1858
Berkshire   Sarum       Dean of Windsor                   to 1735
Berkshire   Sarum       Peculiar of Farringdon            to 1858
Berkshire   Lincoln     Peculiar of Langford              to 1858
Buckingham  Lincoln     Archdeaconry of Buckingham        to 1845
Buckingham  Oxford      Archdeaconry of Buckingham        1845-1858
Buckingham  London      Archdeaconry of St. Albans        to 1858
Buckingham  London      Consistory of London              to 1858
Buckingham  Lincoln     Episcopal registers of Lincoln    to 1845
Buckngham   Lincoln     Consistory of Lincoln             to 1845
Buckingham  Lincoln     Pecs of Aylesbury, Buckingham     to 1858
Buckingham  Lincoln     Pecs of Bterton, Thame            to 1858
Buckingham  Arch Cant   Peculiar of Monks Risborough      to 1858
Buckingham  Lincoln     Dean & Chapter of Lincoln         to 1845


To Alphabetical Index of Names

To FREER Family Research Directory