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National Library of Wales
Chester Probate Records

Reference code(s): GB 0210 PROBC

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Welsh Probate Records, Diocese of Chester

Short Title: Chester Probate Records

Creation date(s): 1521-1858 (mainly 1557-1650, 1660-1858)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 3,121 items

Name of creator(s): Church of England. Diocese of Chester


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. From 1541 a small area of north-east Wales fell under the jurisdiction of the newly created Consistory Court of Chester, comprising four parishes in Flintshire and one in Denbighshire. The suppression of the functions of the diocesan courts under the Commonwealth is indicated by a break in the Chester probate records from 1650, and probate in England and Wales was undertaken by the Court of Civil Commission in London, 1653-1660. After the Restoration probate business reverted to the jurisdiction of the 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: 3,121 original wills, inventories, administration bonds and miscellaneous other probate records, 1521-1858 (mainly 1557-1650, 1660-1858), from four parishes in Flintshire and from Holt in Denbighshire; and stray documents from elsewhere in Wales, England and overseas.


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

System of arrangement: Arranged chronologically within the diocese and further sub-divided by parish and surname.

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aids: For searches of original probate records: NLW, full catalogue online, or A2A website; and a hard copy of the unpublished Chester (Welsh Wills) Probate Index, 1521-1858. Hard copies of the NLW Chester (Welsh Wills) Probate Index are held by Flintshire Record Office, Denbighshire Record Office 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 have been 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 Chester. As well as the records from parts of Flintshire and Denbighshire, they included large numbers of items from Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. They were conveyed from Chester Probate Registry 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. Only the records applicable to Wales were retained by NLW and the remainder were despatched to the appropriate archive repositories in England.

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


Related material: Register copy wills from the few Flintshire and Denbighshire parishes formerly in the Diocese of Chester are from 1858 to 1928 filed with the records of St Asaph District Probate Registry, held by NLW and by the Principal Registry of the Family Division, London. Other sources of probate records from this area of north-east Wales are the records of the Prerogative Court of York (PCY), held at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, records of the Court of Civil Commission and possibly those of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), available for consultation at the National Archives, Kew.

Publication note: Publications of Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society, Vols 2, 4, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 30, 33, 37-38, 43-45, 52, 62-63, 78, 107, 113, 118, 120.


Note: Title derived from content of fonds. One stray item, 1521, predates formation of the Diocesan Consistory Court of Chester.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Hilary A. Peters for the ANW project from the following sources: NLW, unpublished Chester (Welsh Wills) Probate Index; Camp, Anthony J., Wills and their Whereabouts (London 1974); Gibson, Jeremy, Probate jurisdictions : where to look for wills. (Federation of Family History Societies, 2002).

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 Chester. | Consistory Court | Archives
Ecclesiastical courts | England | Chester | Archives
Probate records | Wales | Denbighshire
Probate records | Wales | Flintshire

Personal names

Corporate names
Church of England | Diocese of Chester. | Consistory Court


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