Discover your ancestor’s last will and testament among hundreds of thousands of New South Wales will books between 1800 and 1952, now available online for the very first time. Uncover details of their estate, trace their financial history, and learn about their beneficiaries and personal relationships.
Each record includes an image of the original and a transcript. The amount of information listed varies, but the New South Wales Will Books 1800-1952 usually include the following information about your ancestor:
Details of their estate
Date of death
Additional notes and biographical details may vary
Hundreds of thousands of New South Wales wills, dating from 1800 to 1952, (with most dating from 1846), are available to search online for the very first time.
These records are copies of original Will Books held by the State Records Authority of New South Wales. Between 1800 and 1924, the copies of the wills were handwritten, whereas between 1924 and 1952 the copies were typed. In 1952 the copies were altered to photocopies.
Once probate was granted for a will, meaning that it had been validated as genuine, the will was then deposited with the Registrar of the Probate Office. The original will and its accompanying documents were then held in Probate packets (NRS 13660), which were restricted to family members of the deceased or their legal representatives. However, from roughly 1800 onwards, copies of the wills were held in the Will Books.
The New South Wales Wills Books includes some wills of those in other states and countries, typically in cases where the individual was a resident of New South Wales but their last place of residence was outside the state. In other cases, people who lived elsewhere may have lodged their will in New South Wales despite not living there, particularly if they had property or shares in the state.
The Supreme Court of New South Wales divided both Will Books and Probate packets into series. The series of Will Books are:
Series 1 – approximately 1800 – May 1873
Series 2 – 1873 – 1876
Series 3 – 1876 – approximately 1890
Series 4 – approximately 1890 – 1985
Each series consists of volumes containing copies of original wills, all arranged numerically. It remains unclear why these records were divided and categorised into series.
Accompanying documentation to these wills can sometimes involve codicils such as additions or revocations to the will.
Original data: NRS 13661, Will Books 1800-1952, Microfilm, 343 reels
As there is a lot of legal terminology in the wills we have included a brief glossary of some common terms.
The estate includes both real estate property and personal property of the deceased.
The executor is the person named in a will to be responsible for administering the estate of the deceased. There can be more thane executor. Their duties usually include determining which assets belong to the deceased’s estate, distributing the estate according to the will and paying any debts that the deceased may have accrued.
If a person dies without leaving a valid will they are said to have died intestate. In this case, there would be no named executor and, instead, a letter of administration would have been issued to authorise a person or persons to act as the executor.
A codicil is an additional document that amends, deletes, revokes or explains provisions within a will that has already been made.
Copyright Brightsolid Online Records International. Images reproduced by courtesy of the State Records Authority of New South Wales.
© the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales and is used under licence with the permission of the State Records Authority. The State of New South Wales gives no warranty regarding the data’s accuracy, completeness, currency or suitability for any particular purpose.