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:

Wills

Statements recording how the testator intended to disperse their property. They are formal in structure, but personal in nature. Wills can help to clarify distant relationships and identify the names of married daughters.

Letters of administration (or admons)

Where a deceased person did not leave a will or left an invalid will. Grants made to the next of kin, or sometimes a creditor.

Inventories

Valuations of household goods, often organised room by room. Also other possessions such as tools of a trade, foodstuffs and livestock. They survive mostly for the 16th-18th centuries. Inventories provide a unique insight into the households of ordinary people.

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).

Before 1858, wills of individuals owning property in more than one diocese were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC).  After 1858, wills of individuals owning property in more than one district were proved in the Principal Probate Registry, London.

  • There are over 25,000 PCC wills relating to Hampshire and Isle of Wight people. These are available through the The National Archives catalogue.
  • You can use the National Probate Calendars to search Principal Probate Registry wills. You can also use it to search all other wills proved in England and Wales after 1858. Or, any probate registry can conduct a search (fee payable) and provide a copy, if found, of any post-1858 will.