How to look for Wills or administrations after 1858

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

The National Archives does not hold wills or administrations proved in England and Wales (or any other part of the UK) after 1858 but this guide provides advice on where they are held and how you can search for them.

For further information on how to find wills proved after 1858 in England and Wales, read Finding a person’s will on the GOV.UK website.

For wills proved in Scotland up to 1925 go to Scotland’s People and from 1925 onwards go to the National Records of Scotland.

For Northern Ireland wills, go to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), and for the Republic of Ireland go to the National Archives of Ireland.

What do I need to know before I start?

The Principal Probate Registry was established on 12 January 1858 and keeps a copy of every will proved in England or Wales after 1858, as well as copies of letters of administration.

An application for administration could be made when a person died without leaving a will.

What records can I see online?

Index to wills and administrations (1996 to present)

Search by surname the Probate service’s index to wills and administrations (£). This covers England and Wales only.

Index to wills and administrations (1858-1995)

Search by surname the Probate service’s index to wills and administrations. This covers England and Wales only. It also includes links to relevant pages of the National Probate Calendar.

Index to soldiers’ wills (1850-1986)

Search for the will of a soldier (£) who died while serving in the British armed forces between 1850 and 1986.

National Probate Calendar (1858-1966)

The National Probate Calendar for 1858 to 1966 is available on Ancestry.co.uk (£).

As well as the full name, address and occupation of the deceased, the National Probate Calendar may also contain:

  • full names of executors, administrators and relationships to the deceased
  • the date and place of the death
  • the date and place of the probate or administration grant
  • value of the estate

What records can I find only at The National Archives at Kew?

Selected disputed wills (1858-1960)

You can search our catalogue by name in J 90 and J 121 for 7% sample of papers relating to cases of disputed probate (1858-1960).

These are listed by the full name of the testator whose will was being disputed, and the name of the suit (for example, Testator: Finlay, Anne Case: Raynor v Bevan).

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

The National Probate Calendar (from 1858)

Partial indexes are available to consult at:

What other resources will help me find information?

Books

Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether any of the publications below may be available to buy. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.

Karen Grannum and Nigel Taylor, Wills and probate records: A guide for family historians, 2nd edition (The National Archives, 2009)