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Wills and Probate

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Wills and Probate after 1858

From 1858 the testamentary jurisdiction of ecclesiastical and other courts was abolished and replaced by the present centralised civil system of civil probate districts and civil probate registries under the control of the Principle Probate Registry in London. Original wills were retained by the district registry in which they were proved while copies were sent to the Probate Registry.  Indexes and copies of all wills proved in England and Wales may be found at the Principal Probate Registrythis external link will open in a new window, with searches for copies held by their department in Leeds.

Wills for Cumberland and Westmorland were proved at the Carlisle probate registry, and copies can be seen at and ordered from Carlisle Archive Centre.  Catalogue entries for Carlisle Probate wills covering 1858-1941 (together with wills for the Diocese of Carlisle 1548-1858) are now in our online catalogue. These relate give details of name, occupation, address and year of probate. Researchers should simply enter a name in CASCAT and a relevant entry will have the reference number beginning with 'PROB'.

Wills for Lancashire North of the Sands were proved at the Lancaster Probate registry, and are available at Lancashire Record Office.

Wills before 1858

Before 1858 probate was largely the responsibility of ecclesiastical courts. Modern Cumbria fell within the probate jurisdictions of the dioceses of Carlisle, Chester, and Durham, and the Provinces of York and Canterbury, meaning the whereabouts of wills, inventories and grants of administration is scattered. Full details are available in our guide to Wills and Probate before 1858.