Cheshire Probate Records

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Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate records include wills and administrations. This article is about probate records in Cheshire. See England Probate Records for a general description of probate records in England.

1858 to the Present[edit | edit source]

Beginning in 1858, the Principal Probate Registry had the authority for probating estates. Click on the link to learn more.

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Before 1858[edit | edit source]

Before 1858, Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process. To search for a pre-1858 probate record in Cheshire, follow these steps:

Step 1. Search Indexes[edit | edit source]

Cheshire's probate jurisdictions are well-covered with indexes. Follow these steps for accessing some online indexes to probate records that include individuals who lived in Cheshire. Search these indexes first:

1. First search each index (see listed below) to help you more quickly find the will, writing down each detail cited in the index entry such as the year (or date of the will or admon), the page or folio number and town or parish listed:

  • A comprehensive and county-wide Wills index compiled by the Cheshire Record Office. This index covers the years 1492-1940 and contains 130,000 entries. It covers probate documents proved at Chester mainly for the County of Cheshire.
  • The following Website specifically covers the parishes of Disley, Lyme Handley; Taxal & Whaley in Cheshire:
  • A new and comprehensive England, Cheshire Probate Records, 1492-1940 is now available at FamilySearch. More information at England Cheshire Probate Records - FamilySearch Historical Records
  • The original will indexes for the Court of the Bishop of Chester (Episcopal Consistory) for 1545-1858 are available in print by both the Lancashire & Cheshire Record Society and the Chetham Society. These two large publication series cover both Cheshire and Lancashire counties. They are available at many major archives in the United Kingdom such as at the British Library, and Guildhall Library, London, and other like institutions. The Family History Library likewise has most of these printed indexes in book form and/or on microfilm (see below).
  • Original handwritten indexes and calendars to the Probate Acts of Wills and Administrations (Admons)  from 1492-1857 were created as the probate records were filed and are found with the records (see below).
  • The Wills and Inventories a complete transcription 1603 to 1625 of The Ancient Parishes of Malpas, Tilston and Shocklack

2. Click on the court name (i.e. Court of the Bishop of Chester [Episcopal Consistory] below) to learn more about the records.

3. Accessibility to the indexes:

4. You can visit the Family History Library which has microfilm copies of original Cheshire probate indexes and calendars for 1492-1858.

5. You can visit one of the Family History Library's 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide, and obtain a copy of the probate indexes on microfilm. To determine film numbers go to the FamilySearch Catalog, and click "Place", and then type 'Cheshire' and click on Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes'. In particular, see:  Original wills, bonds, and inventories for Chester only, 1492-1858

From an index, did you find a reference to a probate record?

  • If yes, go to Step 3, 4 or 5 above - any option.
  • If no, go to Step 3 above to contact the Cheshire Record Office for further information.

Step 2. Identify when and where your ancestor died[edit | edit source]

Determine when your ancestor died. If you are not sure, use an approximate date. 

Determine where your ancestor died. It is easier to find a probate record if you know whether the place where your ancestor lived or died is a parish. To learn whether it is a parish, look it up in a gazetteer. Here is a link to the 1870 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales online: Vision of Britain

The gazetteer will either tell you:

  • A place is a parish, or
  • What parish it is a part of, or
  • What place it is near.

If the latter, look that place up in the gazetteer and see if it is a parish.

Once you have identified the parish, go to Step 3.

Step 3. Cheshire's court jurisdiction [edit | edit source]

Before 1858, all Cheshire parishes were under the primary probate jurisdiction of the Court of the Bishop of Cheshire (Chester).  Secondary courts are also listed in the table below. 

When looking for the will of an ancestor in Cheshire, search the courts in the order given.  Again, search indexes first. 

Pre-1541 -

Post-1540 -

Step 4. Obtain a copy of the probate record[edit | edit source]

Once you have found an index reference to a probate, obtain a copy of the record. Do so by one of these methods:

  • Visit or contact the record office that has the original records in its collection.

Cheshire Probate Courts[edit | edit source]

Here is a list (again) of the pre-1858 ecclesiastical courts that had probate jurisdiction over Cheshire.  The whole of Cheshire was under the Court of the Bishop of Chester (Episcopal Consistory). However, some parishes also came under concurrent jurisdiction or secondary court jurisdictions such as the Exchequer or Prerogative Courts of the Archbishop of York. Click on a court name to learn more about records.

Some Explanatory Notes on the Cheshire Courts[edit | edit source]

1. Cheshire had no peculiar court jurisdictions in the county. There are several higher probate court jurisdictions which hold concurrent jurisdiction over Chesire. To identify and learn about these courts and their records, click on the "Cheshire Probate Courts" links above.

2. The Court of the Bishop of Chester (Episcopal Consistory) was sub-divided into basically two courts--a higher or what is termed, a "Supra" court and, a lower or "Infra" court. A majority of Cheshire wills and admons were probated in the "Infra" court.

A wiki article describing this collection is found at:

England Cheshire Probate Records - FamilySearch Historical Records