Wills and probate records

Our library holds all the indexes and finding aids to establish if your ancestors left a will in England and Wales along with copies of the documents themselves. After 1858 wills were under the jurisdiction of civil probate courts and as a Family Search affiliate library we have copies of the wills from 1858-1925.

The Library has indexes for the pre 1858 church courts that dealt with probate matters along with copies of the wills and administrations found in these ecclesiastical records. A swell as copies of the official court documents the Society's manuscripts and digital collections include many copies and abstracts of probate documents.

These copies were made for various administrative purposes and were often deposited with the library amongst from family papers or deposited by local solicitors.

Additionally the Society holds indexes for Scottish testamentary records in the various commissariot courts and several collections of copies and abstracts or Irish probate documents made prior to the destruction of the original records in 1922

The library catalogue and digital collections can be found on the collections page of our website.

Bank of England will abstracts registers

The Society of Genealogists Bank of England Will Extracts 1717-1845 can be found in the digital collections . These are extracts of wills of those who died with monies in public funds, as well as abstracts of orders made for stockholders who went bankrupt or were declared lunatic.

The monetary value of many of the stockholdings is often quite low. Investment in government funds was seen by many as an ideal vehicle for providing for their old age and as a repository for surplus earnings. This was particularly true of Londoners, immigrants and religious minorities although the stockholders, or fundholders as they used to be called, appear to come from every part of the British Isles and the Colonies. There are also several hundred Dutch fundholders.

The registers were presented to the Society of Genealogists by the Bank of England in 1985. They are one of the most valuable sources for Georgian biographical and genealogical information to have become available in recent years.

Other materials in the extracts include:

Burial extracts

Occasionally the Bank of England seems to have accepted other evidences concerning the dispersal of annuities and stocks rather than testamentary material. In some cases the register entry cites only a 'burial extract' which must have been presented to the Bank as evidence of the death of the stockholder.


The Bank of England also registered the stock, consols or annuities possessed by those who were declared lunatic. In this case the register extracts not a will but the order of the court that declared the lunacy such as the Court of Chancery.

After 1812, the Bank ruled that it would accept only grants of probate from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. It discontinued the recording of bequests of stock in 1845.

Though a Will Extract will not contain all of the information which may be contained in the original will, it will often identify members of the deceased family, as beneficiaries to his/her estate.

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