Wills and probate

Wills can be useful in establishing family relationships though, of course, not all people left a will.

Until 1858, the proving of wills was almost entirely performed by church courts. Thus the consistory court of the Bishop of Chester had jurisdiction for proving wills within Lancashire south of the River Ribble from 1541 onwards.

The 'probate' records of this court which relate to Lancashire are in Lancashire Record Office, including original wills between 1487 and January 1858. Some indexes to these records have been published by the Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society. Records of other church courts which had a probate jurisdiction within the same area are those of the courts of the ecclesiastical 'province' of York, now in the custody of the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research in York, and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, now in the Public Record Office.

The proving of wills ceased to be carried out by church courts in January 1858, and has subsequently been performed by probate registries. The Probate Registry in Manchester holds copies of wills proved in that registry from 1949 onwards and indexes (known as 'calendars of grants of representations') to all wills proved in England and Wales from 1950 onwards. Greater Manchester County Record Office maintains a set of these 'calendars' from 1858 to 1949.

Manchester District Probate Registry

Manchester Civil Justice Centre
Ground Floor
1 Bridge Street West
PO Box 4240
M60 1WJ

Telephone: 0161 240 5700

Email: manchesterdprenquiries@hmcourts-service.gsi.gov.uk

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