Engraving of registry of wills, Somerset House (Catalogue reference: ZPER 34/66/96)

This is a brief guide to researching records of a will or administration after 1858 which was provedprove - to obtain legal authentication in England and Wales.

The National Archives does not hold wills or administrations proved after 1858.

For further information on how to find wills proved after 1858, read Finding a person's will on the GOV.UK website.

  • What do I need to know before I start?

    • Try to find out:

      • the name of the person
      • the geographical location
      • the date range to focus your search
  • What records can I find 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 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)

Did you know?

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

The guidance on Finding a person's will on GOV.UK provides information on how obtain a will proved after 1858.

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

An application for administration could be made when a person died without leaving a will, if there were problems with the estate.