Court of the Bishop of Canterbury

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The printable version is no longer supported and may have rendering errors. Please update your browser bookmarks and please use the default browser print function instead.

The Court of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) of Canterbury had primary jurisdiction over many Parishes in the Eastern part of Kent. From Maidstone Eastward.

Step By Step[edit | edit source]

1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will, writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.
2. Proceed to "Records" (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court.
3. Contact or visit the Hampshire Record Office or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send upon request a list of record searchers.
4. You can visit The Family History Library, or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes to probate records; then with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons also on microfilm via any centers near you.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes[edit | edit source]

  • The East Kent Archealogical Society has created online indexes to East Kent probate records from 1396-1858.
  • Maureen Rawson's Kent Genealogy, including an index to some wills and inventories, through the Freepages on

Printed and Published Indexes[edit | edit source]

The British Index Library has published indexes to the records of the Consistory and Archdeaconry Courts of Canterbury jointly.  These are available at the Kent Archives Services and at the Family History Library (see Records below for both).  They are as follows:

  • Wills and administrations 1396-1558, 1640-1650 (vol. 50)
  • Administrations 1539-1545 and Wills & administrations 1558-1577 (vol. 65)  

Records[edit | edit source]

Archives Location[edit | edit source]

The records of the Court of the Bishop of Canterbury for 1396-1857 are found at:

Kent Archives Service
Sessions house
County Hall
Maidstone ME14 1XQ
Tel. 01622 694363
Fax: 01622 694379

Archive Records[edit | edit source]

The records include:

  • Original and Copy Wills 1538-1857
  • Register Copy Wills 1396-1857 (some missing years; with indexes)
  • Administration Bonds (Admons) 1660-1857
  • Act Books 1542-1857 (indexed from 1577)
  • Testamentary Bonds 1660-1857
  • Inventory Papers 1596-1748
  • Inventory Registers 1566-69, 1597-1638 (indexed from 1606)
  • Accounts & Inventories 1569-1604
  • Temporary Administrations 1600-42, 1661-78 (indexed) 
  • Guardians Registers 1631-1763 (indexed)
  • Caveats 1627-49, 1660-1809 (most indexed)
  • Renunciation Papers  1660-1814
  • Account Registers 1605-39, 1671-90
  • Inventories 1396-1857
  • Testamentary Cause Papers 1595-1646
  • Affidavits, depositions, interrogations, visitation books, and papers and accounts 1555-1857

Family History Library Records[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has probate records (with indexes) on microfilm, microfiche and in print.  Those available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City include copies and abstracts of the records for 1484-1821.

Jurisdiction[edit | edit source]

The Court of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) of Canterbury had primary jurisdiction over many parishes in the eastern part of Kent, from Maidstone eastward. The remaining eastern parishes were under the primary jurisdiction of the Archdeacon of Canterbury (who received his authority from the Bishop of Canterbury).

The Commissary-General of the Archbishop of Canterbury was the judge of the Court of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) of Canterbury. He exercised probate jurisdiction within the diocese of Canterbury, and he also exercised the Archbishop’s prerogative throughout the diocese. Therefore, records of probate that would have normally gone through the Archbishop's court, will be found in the records of the Court of the Bishop of Canterbury, particularly before 1759.

After 1837, this court also had jurisdiction over the Surrey parishes of Addington and Lambeth.  See Surrey Probate Records.