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The entire county came under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Consistory of Durham.
For those who lived in Durham, search:
- Consistory of Durham
- Prerogative Court of York (see York for further details)
- Prerogative Court of Canterbury (see London: PCC)
- Court of Delegates, 1636- (see London: Delegates)
For those who lived anywhere in the county between 1653-1660, search:
- Prerogative Court of Canterbury (see London: PCC)
For those who lived anywhere in the county between 1812-1857, regardless of what is found in the probate records of any of the above courts, consider searching also the estate duty registers (see London: Estate Duty)
Online Probates for the Consistory of Durham
Durham University in conjunction with the FHL will launch their North East Inheritance project around September 2010. When completed this will allow access to images of the pre-1858 wills and related probate records. The researcher will be able to search "by name, place, occupation or date." Go to Durham University. Choose from the menu on the left, "Progress." It may be necessary to use the research process outlined below under Printed/Fiche Indexes until the online approach is ready. In the meantime, visit the above web site and take advantage of the useful information already online from the menu on the left under "Which wills do we hold," "Probate Records," and "online Exhibitions." "Probate Records" includes sample documents of different types of probate records. "Online Exhibitions" leads to such topics as how to use probates for family history, local history, and academic use in general.
Printed/Fiche Indexes and Microfilmed Calendars for the Consistory of Durham
- 1540-1599, (FHL 942.82/N1 B4nt) volume 8
This volume was edited by H.M. Wood and published in 1928. It may be incomplete but also serves as an index to some of the collections listed in the Miscellaneous Section.
- 1540-1812, (FHL/BYU film 90795 and FHL film 574951)
A typescript index compiled by J.W. Robinson and typed in 1915. It is incomplete but also serves as an index to several of the collections listed in the Miscellaneous Section. It was filmed twice but film 574951 contains interlined material added after 1915.
- 1540-1858, (FHL/BYU films 90802-90804)
A manuscript calendar to wills (T), inventories (I), administrations (A) and accounts (comp.). Item 2 of 90802 covers 1600-1660. Film 90804 starts with 1787. See the next two items before using these calendars.
- 1650-1786, (FHL 942.8 P2d index)
A bound manuscript index to the wills and inventories compiled by the FHL from its microfilms. It is easier to use than the manuscript calendars described above but does not seem to include the administrations.
- 1787-1803, (FHL fiche 6413924 and 6413932-6413935)
An every name index to testators, beneficiaries and witnesses compiled by the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society. There are 16 fiche divided into 5 volumes as per the call numbers listed above. The coverage by volume is: 1 (1787-1791), 2 (1792-1794), 3 (1795-1797), 4 (1798-1800) and 5 (1801-1803).
Microfilmed Records for the Consistory of Durham
The original wills start in 1540 but some registered copy wills were proved as early as 1526. See York for records earlier than these dates. All of the registered copy wills have been microfilmed. Many of the original wills were filmed but there are significant gaps in the microfilm collection for 1561-1580, 1583-1584, 1665-1684, 1724-1752, 1759-1762, 1771-1796, and 1821-1858. The initial film for all of the microfilmed wills is 90982. The entire collection of administration bonds seems to have been filmed but some of these documents may be filed with the original wills including those wills not microfilmed, especially for 1821-1857. The separate films for the administration bonds start with 1670 and are filed with the act books. The initial film for the act books is 90986. Volume 5 of the act books for 1587-1591 was definitely missed and there are large gaps in the microfilm collection of act books for 1663-1723, 1736-1775, and 1801-1809. Some of the gaps outlined here may be filled by the collections outlined in the Miscellaneous Section. Otherwise, it will be necessary to contact the Library Archives and Special Collections of Durham University. The address can be obtained from the GENUKI web site for Durham under either the subjects of Archives or Probate Records.
NOTE: Where an initial film number is given, use either version of the FHL catalog to see all of the films in that collection. The previous version at FamilySearch may be a little easier to use for that purpose.
- Robinson's Collections, 1540-1800.
Nine volumes of material extracted from the wills in the Consistory of Durham, sometimes accompanied by pedigree information. The entire collection was indexed by Robinson as outlined above under item 2 in the section for indexes. For details of the microfilms, type 574951 into the Film/Fiche Search box on the menu of the FHL catalog. Robinson also compiled extracts from the two volumes of probate abstracts made by George Neasham for the same time period. Robinson's extracts from the Neasham collection are available on FHL/BYU film 574977 (A-F) and FHL film 574978 (G-Y).
- Raine's Dunelmensia, 1540-1806.
This is J. Raine's collection drawn from Durham probate records. It is arranged in chronological order and often adds extra information about the testator and his/her family. It is indexed by Robinson as outlined above under item 2 in the section for indexes. The pre-1599 information is also indexed by H.M. Wood. This collection was filmed twice on FHL 98555 and 252668-252669. The second filming may contain extra information not found in the first. Pages 59-60 of volume E are based on administration bonds from the Dean and Chapter of York. Volumes I and II are from the Durham act books 51, 67, 70 and 71.
- Raine's Eboracensia, 1554-1801.
This is J. Raine's collection of probate records for residents of Durham and Northumberland drawn from the various courts of York including the Prerogative Court of York and the Dean and Chapter of York. Volume 3 is incorrectly labeled "Hexhamshire," but from volume 4 onwards there are entries for Hexhamshire. All of the volumes of this collection were also indexed by Robinson as outlined above under item 2. This collection was filmed twice on films 98554-98555 and 252670-252673.
- Howe's Collection, 1576-1735.
These six volumes of J.J. Howe are on FHL film 90796. Each volume is separately indexed and includes both Durham and Northumberland.
- The Surtees Society, 1259-1649.
The publications of the Surtees Society (FHL 942 B4s) contain abstracts of wills from the Consistory of Durham and the Dean and Chapter of York as follows: volume 2 (1259-1580/1), volume 38 (1563-1599), volume 112 (1543-1602), and volume 142 (1603/4-1649). The first three volumes were indexed by both Robinson and Wood. See items 1-2 above under indexes. The master index of the publications of the Surtees Society is found in their volume 150. Volume 2 is now online. Start with Medieval Genealogy.
- Commonwealth Wills, 1649-1660.
Information taken from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury for residents of Durham and Northumberland was extracted in 1909. (FHL film 1564756, item 7)
- For further details on the microfilm collection of Durham probates, see David H. Pratt's Researching British Probates, 1354-1858 (FHL Reference 942 P23p and BYU Religion/Family History Reference CS 434 .X1 P72 1992). Items noted therein of interest for migration studies include: a document in 1757 for Ann Batwell from the Prerogative Court of Ireland (FHL 90902), an administration bond in 1699 for Elizabeth Maxwell of Kirkconnell in Scotland (FHL 91039), a curation bond in 1752 for the children of Mary Massam of Middlesex by her first husband, George Dent of Chester-le-Street (FHL 91051), and an administration bond in 1809 for John Gilbert Ironside of Houghton-le-Spring, late of Jamaica (FHL 91076).