Court of the Bishop of Lincoln (Episcopal Consistory)

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Description[edit | edit source]

Probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs. The term probate refers to a collection of documents, including wills, administrations (also called admons), inventories, and act books. The Church of England ecclesiastical courts had authority for this process until to 1858. This article explains about probate records of this court and how to a will in this court.

Beginning in 1858, authority over probate matters was taken from ecclesiastical courts and put under the civil authority of the Principal Probate Registry.

Step By Step[edit | edit source]

1. First search each index (see "Indexes" below) to help you more quickly find the will or administration (admon), writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry

2. Proceed to "Records" section (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court.

3. Contact or visit the Lincolnshire Archives or hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send upon request a list of record searchers.

4. Visit The Family History Library, or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search the indexes. Then, with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons on microfilm.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes[edit | edit source]

The Lincolnshire Archives Office has an index to Lincolnshire wills, 1701-1800, in PDF format that can be searched online, and other indexes to probate records.

Printed and Published Indexes[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has indexes including:

The library's holdings of probate records for Lincolnshire are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog by using the Place Search for:

  • England, Lincoln - Probate records
  • England, Lincoln - Probate records - Indexes

Records[edit | edit source]

Archive Location[edit | edit source]

The original records are in the collection of the Lincolnshire Archives Office in the city of Lincoln. 

Archive Records[edit | edit source]

Add information about the manuscript, printed and digital records in this location.

The records include:

  • Original and register copy wills, 1506-1858
  • Act books, 1553-1701
  • Administrations, 1540-1857
  • Inventories, 1508-1831

For research assistance, contact the archives office.

Family History Library Records[edit | edit source]

The records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library and through family history centers.  These include:

Family History Library Records[edit | edit source]

1. If you do not have access to the Family History Library or a family history center, contact the Lincolnshire Archives Office and request a search of their index to wills for an entry for your ancestor. If they find a reference, they will inform you how to obtain a copy of the will.

2. If you have access to the Family History Library or a family history center, search the indexes to the court with jurisdiction over your parish of interest. If you find a reference to your ancestor's will, go to the library's online catalog entry for the court's probate records (see above), and match the index reference to the film for the correct year and record. For instance, "Will index vol. 9-11, 1766-1857," on film #0198799, gives the following reference:

1784, Brumley, William - Barton
This indicates that William Brumley of Barton died and left a will proven in 1784.

3. Go to the library's online catalog entry for for the Court of the Bishop of Lincoln and view the film notes. Browse down the film notes until you come to (as in the case of our example) "Registered wills v. 263, 1784" on film #0199069. Go to the film cabinets and retrieve the film, put it on a film reader, and turn to the will in alphabetical order.

4. If you are using a family history center, use the library's catalog as before, and search to see if your local family history center has a copy of the film.

5. The Family History Library and family history centers have copying facilities so you may make a copy of your ancestor's probate record.

Jurisdiction[edit | edit source]

Lincolnshire[edit | edit source]

The Diocese of Lincoln (which has existed since before 1088 and was at that time one of the largest diocese in England) covers the whole of Lincolnshire and most of Nottinghamshire.  After the Reformation [in the 1530's during the reign of Henry VIII], it was divided into the Archdeaconries of Lincoln and Stow in Lincolnshire, and the Archdeaconry of Nottingham.  The Archdeaconry of Lincoln covered the largest portion of that county.  The Court of the Bishop of Lincoln had primary probate jurisdiction in the Archdeaconry of Lincoln and secondary jurisdiction in the Archdeaconry of Stow (see also the Court of the Archdeaconry of Stow).

Bedfordshire[edit | edit source]

The Archdeaconry of Bedfordshire was in the Diocese of Lincoln until 1837.  Therefore, before that time, the Court of the Bishop of Lincoln (Episcopal Consistory) had secondary jurisdiction over the whole of Bedfordshire except the peculiars of Biggleswade and Leighton Buzzard

Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire[edit | edit source]

This court also had superior jurisdiction over the peculiar courts of Aylesbury and Buckingham (Lincoln prebends in the county of Buckingham), and the peculiar courts of Banbury, Bierton, Thame, Cropredy, King's Sutton, and Horley and Hornton (in the county of Oxford), which were under the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln.

Huntingdonshire[edit | edit source]

From 1479-1609, this court had superior jurisdiction over the parishes under the primary jurisdiction of the Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of Lincoln and of the Archdeacon in the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon, except for the prebends. It continued to have superior jurisiction over many Huntingdonshire parishes until the end of 1857.