Skip to main content

Why search the wills collection?

Wills can help you discover:

  • Name and full address of the individual
  • Information about the social status and wealth of the individual
  • Information about land and property of the individual
  • Name of spouse, children, grandchildren and other family relations
  • The burial place of the deceased
  • Information about occupations
  • Names of administrator/executor

Which wills am I searching?

Until 1858, the courts of the Church of England proved wills. The National Library of Wales holds original wills, inventories and bonds, and also register copy wills. From this page you can search for wills proved in the Welsh Ecclesiastical Courts before 1858.

There were seven dioceses or their equivalents in Wales. The following list shows the areas of probate jurisdiction and the dates of the wills which are held here at the Library.

Diocese of Bangor Content

Anglesey, most of Caernarfonshire, most of Merioneth, parts of Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire

  • Original wills 1576-1858 (majority dated 1635-1648, 1660-1858)
  • Copy wills 1790, 1851-1858

Archdeaconry of Brecon

Breconshire, most of Radnorshire, and some parishes in Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire and Herefordshire

  • Original wills 1557-1857 (mainly 1609-1653, 1660-1857)
  • Copy wills 1543-1858 (mainly 1570-1589, 1694-1858)
  • Unproved wills (uncatalogued)

Diocese of Chester

Four parishes in Flintshire and Holt in Denbighshire.

  • Original wills 1521-1858 (mainly 1557-1650, 1660-1858)

Peculiar of Hawarden

Parish of Hawarden

  • Original wills 1554-1858 (mainly 1554-1641, 1660-1858)

Diocese of Llandaff

Monmouthshire and Glamorgan (except for  Gower)

  • Original 1568-1857
  • Copy wills 1695-1844

Diocese of St Asaph

Most of Denbighshire, Flintshire and Montgomeryshire, and parts of Merioneth, Caernarfonshire and Shropshire

  • Original 1557-1858 (mainly 1583-1649, 1660-1857)
  • Copy wills 1548-1709 (mainly 1565-1648, 1660-1669, 1684-1709)
  • Unproved wills (uncatalogued)

Diocese of St David’s

Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and part of Glamorgan (Gower)

  • Original 1556-1858 (mainly 1564-1653, 1660-1858)
  • Copy wills 1703-1858 (mainly 1703-1731, 1814-1858)
  • Unproved wills (uncatalogued)


Which wills can't be viewed online?

The following wills are held in the Librarys wills collections, but haven't currently been digitised.

You can however search for these wills via the form above, but you will have to request the will and visit the Library in Aberystwyth to view it. You will need a Reader's Ticket to request the will.

If you can't visit Aberystwyth, you're welcome to contact our Enquiries Service to request a copy of the will, and they will advise you whether this is possible and the cost.

How does the search form work?

The wills Catalogue records are old, short and inconsistent. We've created this form with the intention to offer the best search possible, considering the standard of the data.

While you're given the option to search by certain fields eg Diocese, name, parish etc, the search is in fact a general keyword search. It searches for the terms you inputted across all the fields in the data, and offers results which include your terms anywhere in the data.

This is why you will see some results which appear strange eg if you search for the Diocese of Bangor and the parish of Bangor, you will see results which include wills from parishes other than Bangor, because they are in the Diocese of Bangor.

Known issues with the digitised wills

If you come across any problems we would be very grateful if you could let us know through our Enquiries Service.

What if I can't find the will I'm looking for? What next?

If you cannot find the will that you require online, it may be worth searching the manuscript indexes to the pre-1858 register copy wills or the Church in Wales diocesan records. Wills may also be present in estate archives and solicitors’ collections (for these search the main Library catalogue).

If individuals held land in more than one diocese in Wales, their wills were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index to PCC wills, 1384-1858, is available online via The National Archives (TNA) website. Copies of PCC wills relating to Wales are available on microfilm at the National Library of Wales.

After 1858 a simpler system of civil probate was introduced. Wills which were proved in Wales between 1858 and 1941 are available at the National Library of Wales. They may be accessed through the Calendar of Grants of Probate on microfiche and the original volumes in the Reading Room. There is also free access online through Ancestry Library which can be viewed within the building.

Search here for wills proved in the Welsh Ecclesiastical courts before 1858.