Nearly 100,000 of Hampshire's historic records now available on Ancestry® - and free to access in Hampshire's libraries and record office

Probate records are now available to search online at Ancestry®, spanning 500 years of Hampshire and Isle of Wight history

Nov 22 2022

Hampshire County Council is collaborating with Ancestry, the global leader in family history, to make nearly 500 years of Hampshire Wills and Probates available online for the first time.

The probate records include wills, inventories, and administrations from the church courts of Winchester diocese dating from the 14th Century to 1858. Local people can now access the records on Ancestry free of charge from any Hampshire library or record office.

The collection includes some unusual records including a man with the plague, who handed his will to his witnesses on the end of a pole, and a woman who illustrated her will with pictures of Father Time and the scene of Jesus Christ in Judgement.

Ancestry and the County Council have worked together to make these historic documents accessible on Ancestry.co.uk. This is the first time the entire collection of Hampshire Wills and Probates records have been digitised and put online. What’s more, if you live locally in Hampshire, you can access Ancestry free of charge at Hampshire public libraries and record office.

Probate records are official court documents concerning the settlement of a person's estate after they die. The most important of these is usually a will, which lists the deceased's property and outlines who it has been left to, meaning these records will offer a rare view into ancestors' daily lives and valued possessions. 

Featured in the records are fascinating examples of every-day Hampshire residents including:

  • Thomas Hancock of Hawley, Yateley died of the plague in 1604. The records show that his will was handed to Alexander Read on a nine-foot pole because Hancock was afraid of passing on the infection to his witnesses.
  • Frances Dillington of West Cowes, who illustrated her will with pictures of Father Time and the scene of Jesus Christ in Judgement. Her will was read in 1704.

Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Countryside, Culture and Communities, said:

“It’s really exciting to be able to have Hampshire’s wills and probate records professionally digitised and made available online for the first time on Ancestry. The agreement between Ancestry and the County Council is helping to preserve the rich history of our county and making it more widely accessible. I am very pleased that people can access Ancestry without charge at our public libraries, and at Hampshire Record Office in Winchester.

“We are really proud to have worked with such an innovative team to digitise another important collection on Ancestry,’’ comments Kristian Lafferty, Content Acquisition Manager at Ancestry®. ‘’Our team of experts have worked with Hampshire Record Office to make the records digitally available for the first time ever, giving people the opportunity to learn more about their roots in Hampshire and even spot some prominent faces from the region too.’’

To learn more about your family history and discover the stories of your ancestors, visit ancestry.co.uk.