Search through thousands of wills and probate records from Leicestershire. Wills are an excellent resource for family historians because they can shed light on your ancestor’s wealth, provide the names of numerous family members, and tell you the date of your ancestor’s death.
With each record, you will be given both a transcript and an image of the original document. The information you discover in each record will depend on the record type, the age of the document, and its condition.
The images will make available further information about your ancestor – depending on the type of record and the age of the document.
Administrations are created when the deceased person did not leave a will or if some of the deceased’s belongings are not settled through a will.
Inventories provide a full list of all the deceased’s belongings and property along with the value of each and, in most cases, to whom it has been bequeathed.
Probate or probate act records are official documentation recording that the deceased’s will was proved and registered and that the administration of the estate was passed on to the named person(s) in the will. The register also provides the date, place, and value of the deceased’s estate.
Probate registry gives you a full copy of the original will. A will may include the names of numerous family members and their relationship to the deceased, as well as the deceased’s place of residence, a description of the deceased’s estate, the date of the will, and, in some cases, the date of death.
A will, formally known as a last will and testament, is a legal document of a person’s requests for the distribution of his or her property upon death. The will year is the year that the will was recorded, not the year of death. After a person dies, the will must be proved, which gives the executor(s) of the will formal permission to proceed with the requests of the will.
Wills are a critical resource for family historians as they not only shed light on your ancestor’s wealth but may also allow you to extract the names of many family members and associates to whom belongings or money were given.
Prior to 1858, church or ecclesiastical courts were responsible for authorising all matters related to probate cases. After 1858, probate cases were dealt with by the district registry. In the Leicestershire Wills and Probate Records, 1500-1939 you will discover records from the ecclesiastical courts and the Leicester District Registry. The ecclesiastical courts include the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the highest court, and the Archdeaconry of Leicester. Additionally, there are a small number of records from the Doctors’ Commons, this was a small civil law court presided over by a society of lawyers. All the original documents are retained by the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland.
For additional help in understanding the terms used within a will and its attendant records, we have provided a glossary of probate terms, which you can access from the Useful links and resources section.
Thomas Fielding Johnson, a philanthropist and businessman, is known for the significant donations he made to the University of Leicester. Johnson was a successful factory owner, in particular, his firm Fielding & Johnson supplied more yarn to the government during the First World War than any other firm in England. The Johnson family lived in Brookfield, a large Victoria house, in the suburb of Stoneygate. We can find two probate records for Thomas Fielding Johnson. The first recorded Stoneygate as his residence and the second recorded Brookfield. This is an excellent example of why you should start your search with only a name and year, instead of narrowing your search to a specific location.
Johnson’s will allows us to build his family tree. It names his children, nephew, and extended family members. Through a will we can also find the names of others who were important to Johnson, for example, his maid—Johnson stated in his will that she was ‘most kind and helpful in my old age’ and was left £300 upon his death.
Thomas Johnson’s will demonstrates his generosity, particularly to local hospitals. Johnson bequeathed £1000 to the Leicester Royal Infirmary, £1000 to the Leicester Maternity Hospital, £1000 to the Children’s Hospital, £500 to the Faire Hospital, £500 to the Leinster Institution for the Blind, £100 to the Leicester District Nursing Institution, £200 to the Home for Incurables, and £250 to the Charnwood Forest Convalescent Home. He gave money to other Christian charities and causes such as £250 to Dr Barnardo’s Homes, £150 to the Great Meeting Chapel, £500 to the Domestic Mission, and £200 to the Free Christian Church. Through his donation of £200 to the Wyggeston Grammar School Foundation he established an annual award for the pupil who displayed the most progress and public spirit.
Start your research wide by only searching for your ancestor’s name, then go back and edit your search by adding a year.
Not all documents record the year of death; therefore, use the event year to search for your ancestor’s will. However, remember that the will may not have been proved the same year as your ancestor’s death. Use the Give or take option, and expand your search to +/- 2 years or more.
Use the keyword search to narrow your search. For example, you can enter your ancestor’s residence in this field.