Wills and Probate Records

Wills are an important resource, which are rich in information but are frequently overlooked. Of all the sources available to the family historian, wills are one of the few that show the emotional links that bind the person to their family and friends. Whilst it would be unwise to assume that everyone has left a will, it's certainly worth investigating.

Until 1858, the courts of the Church of England proved wills but after this a simpler system of civil probate was introduced. Wills, which were proven in Wales between 1837 and 1941, are available at the National Library of Wales. If an individual held land in more than one diocese in Wales, these were proven in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

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

Access

Pre-1858 - NLW Wills Online

Post-1858 Calendar of Grants of Probate on microfiche and original volumes in the Reading Rooms. Also free access through Ancestry Library within the building.