Wills

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



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          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


          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:  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)

          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 Rooms. There is also free access online through Ancestry Library which can be viewed within the building.