Wills and other probate records
These are legal documents relating to the dispersal of property following the death of the owner (the testator). They include
Statements recording how the testator intended their property to be dispersed. While quite formal in structure, they are personal in nature and can help to clarify distant relationships and identify the names of married daughters.
Letters of administration (or admons)
Grants made to the next of kin, or sometimes a creditor, where a deceased person did not leave a will or left an invalid will.
Valuations of household goods, often organised room by room, and other possessions such as tools of a trade, foodstuffs and livestock. Where they survive, mostly for the 16th-18th centuries, they provide a unique insight into the households of ordinary people and how they lived.
Our online catalogue lists wills, admons and inventories of Hampshire and Isle of Wight people from 1398 to 1941. These are wills proved in the church courts of Winchester Diocese (up to 1858) and Winchester Probate Registry (1858-1941).
Wills of individuals owning property in more than one diocese (before 1858) or more than one district (after 1858), were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and the Principal Probate Registry, London respectively.
- There are over 25,000 PCC wills relating to Hampshire and Isle of Wight people. These are available through the The National Archives catalogue.
- Principal Probate Registry wills and all other wills proved in England and Wales after 1858 can be searched through the National Probate Calendars. Alternatively, any probate registry can conduct a search (fee payable) and provide a copy, if found, of any post-1858 will.
Will of John Frost of Hoddington, 1613