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National Library of Wales
St Davids Probate Records

Reference code(s): GB 0210 PROBSD

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Welsh Probate Records, Diocese of St Davids

Short Title: St Davids Probate Records

Creation date(s): 1556-1858 (mainly 1564-1653, 1660-1858)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 56,930 items, 14 vols

Name of creator(s): Church of England. Diocese of St Davids


Administrative/Biographical history: In England and Wales prior to 12 January 1858, wills were proved and letters of administration granted in ecclesiastical courts, each having its own area of jurisdiction. Which court had jurisdiction in a particular case depended mainly on the place of death and the extent and location of the deceased's estate. The Consistory Court of St Davids was responsible for for probate and administration in the counties of Pembroke, Cardigan, Carmarthen and part of Glamorgan (twenty three parishes in the Deanery of Gower). During the Commonwealth, 1653-1660, the Consistory Court of St Davids, in common with other church courts in England and Wales, ceased to function and a Court of Civil Commission was established in London. After the Restoration the business of probate was once more under the jurisdiction of church courts. In 1858 the responsiblity for probate was transferred from the ecclesiastical courts to a simpler system of civil probate registries.


Scope and content/abstract: 56,930 original wills, inventories, administration bonds, administration grants and miscellaneous other probate records, 1556-1858 (mainly 1564-1653, 1660-1858) from parishes in Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and the Gower peninsula, and stray documents from elsewhere in Wales, England, overseas and on board ship; 14 vols register copy wills, 1703-1858 (mainly 1703-1731, 1814-1858); unproved wills, uncompleted administrations and separate inventories, 1620-1814 (uncatalogued).


Language/scripts of material: Mainly English, some Welsh, small proportion of Latin pre-1733.

System of arrangement: Divided into original probate records arranged chronologically within the diocese, and further sub-divided by parish and surname, except for records dated 1837-1858, which were retained as previously numbered; and register copy wills arranged chronologically by volume.

Conditions governing access: Public records. Some items unfit for production.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.

Physical characteristics: Some items damaged.

Finding aids: For searches of original probate records: NLW, full catalogue online, or A2A website; and hard copies of the unpublished St Davids Probate Indexes, 1556-1699, 1700-1749, 1750-1858. Abstracts and Indexes of Original Wills, St Davids Diocese, are available on microfiche, compiled by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Act books, 1836-1868, may supply details where original documents do not survive. For register copy wills: NLW, integral idexes to volumes for 1703-1708, 1814-1858. For unproved wills, a manuscript index exists, entitled Unprobated Wills, 1600-1858. Hard copies of the NLW indexes to original pre-1858 wills of the Diocese of St David are held by Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Pembrokeshire Record Office, Ceredigion Archives, West Glamorgan Archive Service, The Family Records Centre and the Society of Genealogists, London. N.B. For best results in personal name searches, possible alternative spellings of each name should be considered.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history: In 1858 the earlier probate records from the Consistory Court were transferred to the District Probate Registry at Carmarthen. They were conveyed thence to the National Library of Wales in 1945, in accordance with the Direction of the President of the Probate Division of the High Court of Justice.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by Carmarthen District Probate Registry in 1945.


Existence and location of copies: Abstracts of pre-1600 probate records preserved in the St Davids Diocesan Registry, Carmarthen, with a list of testators recorded in each bundle and an index of places are NLW, Manuscripts of Alcwyn C. Evans (NLW MSS 12364-12365D)

Related material: Register copy wills of the District Probate Registry of Carmarthen, 1858-1941, are held by NLW and by the Principal Registry of the Family Division, London. Some wills and administrations are included in the consistory court papers filed with the diocesan records of the Church in Wales, held at NLW. Other sources of probate records from Wales are the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and those of the Court of Civil Commission, available for consultation at the National Archives, Kew.

Publication note: Peters, H. A., 'The Welsh Probate Records - Research at the National Library of Wales', The Carmarthenshire Antiquary 1999, pp. 105-9.


Note: Title derived from content of fonds.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Hilary A. Peters for the ANW project from the following sources: NLW, unpublished St Davids Probate Indexes, 1556-1858; NLW, information leaflet Probate Records in the National Library of Wales (1993).

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: June 2006

Church of England. | Diocese of Saint David's. | Consistory Court | Archives
Ecclesiastical courts | Wales | St David's | Archives
Probate records | Wales | Cardiganshire
Probate records | Wales | Carmarthenshire
Probate records | Wales | Pembrokeshire
Probate records | Wales | West Glamorgan

Personal names

Corporate names
Church of England | Diocese of Saint David's. | Consistory Court


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