England & Wales, Index of Wills and Probates, 1853-1943
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England & Wales, Index of Wills and Probates, 1853-1943
This collection is an index of wills, grants of probates, and letters of administration for the years 1853 through 1943. The expanse of the British Empire during the early 20th Century means a small portion of this collection contains records of deaths from countries around the world. Information recorded in a probate index includes: name of the deceased, date of death, place of residence, place of death, size of the estate, occupation, as well as the names and relationships of any benefactors. These grants of probate and letters of administration can serve as a practical substitute for missing vital records, such as death certificates, for relatively wealthy individuals. However, it was not uncommon for an individual to die and have no will to probate or letter of administration to execute.<br><br>The England & Wales Index to Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration, 1853-1943, collection spans an important development in English probate law. Prior to 1858, grants of probate and letters of administration fell under the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England: primarily the Prerogative Court of York and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. This collection contains an index of grants of probate and letters of administration made in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury from 1853 to 1857. As the highest ecclesiastical court, the Prerogative Court of Canterbury was responsible for probating the estates of an individual meeting any of the following criteria:<br><br><ul><li>High level of personal wealth</li><li>Property in more than one diocese in the Province of Canterbury</li><li>Property in both the Province of York and the Province of Canterbury</li><li>Died outside of England, but owned property in England</li></ul><br>Therefore, it was very uncommon for an individual to have enough wealth or property for a grant of probate or letter of administration to be made in the Court of Canterbury. If an individual is found in the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, it may be possible to find a copy of their will at the <a href="http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/wills-1384-1858/">National Archives of England</a>.<br><br>The Court of Probate Act of 1857 created a new civil court that centralized all grants of probates and letters of administration, effectively transferring all jurisdiction from the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England to Her Majesty’s Court of Probate. The majority of records in this collection are dated after 1857 and were therefore administered in the Court of Probate. Even though this act centralized the administration of estates, it was still uncommon for an individual to leave a will to be probated. Therefore, this collection remains a good substitute for, or supplement to, the death records of relatively wealthy individuals.<br><br>This collection is an index of a variety of legal documents but is composed of primarily four document types:<br><br><ol><li>Grants of Probate: Legal documents that authorize the executor(s) to administer a deceased individual’s estate according to the provisions of the will.</li><li>Letters of Administration: Legal authority for the executor(s) to administer a deceased individual’s estate when no will was made prior to death.</li> <li>Scottish Confirmation: The Scottish equivalent of a grant of probate.</li><li>Eik to a Confirmation: A supplementary document to an existing confirmation for additional assets not listed in the original confirmation.</li></ol><br> This collection does not contain any copies of the original wills. However, it may be possible to find the copies of wills for individuals found within this index. For individuals who died in England, in or after 1858, their wills may be found by <a href="https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate">searching the records of the United Kingdom</a>. For individuals who died in Scotland before 1926, their wills may be found through a paid search of <a href="https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/">ScotlandsPeople</a>.<br><br> While primarily composed of individuals who were living in England and Wales, this collection does include the information of deceased persons living throughout the British Empire, as long as the decedent owned property in England or Wales. While relatively few in number, this collection contains records of individuals who resided in the following countries:<br><br> Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Greece, Jersey, Isle of Man, South Africa, Guernsey, Prussia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Canada, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Egypt, China, Japan, Singapore, East Indies, Burma, Türkiye, Malta, West Africa, Nairobi, East Africa, Syria, Nigeria, Uganda, Monaco, Guyana, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Algiers, Canary Islands, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Macedonia, Cuba, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Jamaica, Mexico, Barbados, Trinidad, Argentina, and the West Indies.
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Wallace Henry HartleyProbate / Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England
Wallace Henry Hartley is best known as the bandmaster and violinist aboard the RMS Titanic. Hartley and his band famously played music to keep passengers calm as the ship sank. Hartley and his band did not survive.