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London: Delegates

The High Court of Delegates was the final court of appeal for both the Province of York and the Province of Canterbury. This court functioned from 1532-1834. However, most of its testamentary cases start in the 17th century and are mainly for 1652-1857. Over 500 testamentary suits are filed here. The original documents are at the National Archives.

The records for this court are filed at the National Archives under the classification of DEL. There are 11 categories ranging from DEL 1 to DEL 11. The most useful records for probate research are:


  • DEL 9 Muniment Books, 1651/2-1857, found in 10 volumes.
    (Registered copies of will approved in court were made in these volumes.)
  • DEL 10 Filed Wills, Papers, 1636-1857. Documents 1-188 were filed in 8 bundles.
    (Many of these documents are original wills.)
  • DEL 11 Lists and Indexes, 1538-1868, that are arranged in 13 sub-categories.
    DEL 11 includes the following indexes to DEL 9-10:
    • DEL 11/1 lists in rough chronological order documents 1-160 of DEL 10.
    • DEL 11/2 lists wills, 1707-1733, delivered out of court, but registered in the Muniment Books and included in the draft index of the Court of Delegates.
    • DEL 11/3 indexes the testators in documents 1-186 of DEL 10.
    • DEL 11/6 is the draft index to DEL 9 and 10. The catalog of the National Archives suggests that it may be the source of the printed index.


Printed Index to the Probate Records in the Court of Delegates

1636-1857, Wills/Administrations (FHL 942 B2gqm new ser.) & (BYU CS410 .G44x New Ser. in compact shelving) volumes 11, 12, 17
The index is a series of articles in a now defunct periodical, The Genealogist. The volumes were published in 1895, 1896 and 1901. The main index is under A-Harris on pages 166-171, Hartley-N on pages 224-227 of volume 11, and O-W on pages 97-101 of volume 12. The index for o-w in volume 12 is now online at Volume 17 adds further entries on pages 215-216 referring to testaments in other documents. The index includes entries into 1857 from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council after the Court of Delegates ceased to function. Unfortunately, the printed index only gives the date the documents were first made and does not indicate exactly where in DEL 9-10 they are to be found. The earliest date given is 1599. However, only some 25 documents were dated before 1652.

Microfilmed Probate Records for the Court of Delegates

The records filmed in 1952 include an older version of DEL 11, all 10 volumes of DEL 9, and two Assignation Books for 1716-1720 and 1829-1838. The older version of DEL 11 is on FHL/BYU film 94211. Item 1 of that film is DEL 11/3. It lists documents 1-186 of DEL 10 by the initial letter of the testator's surname. You will first see the A's arranged by document number and so on through the alphabet. Each entry gives the name of the testator, type of document, and the date the matter was decided in this court. The volume number of the Muniment Book is added in the margin if the document was recorded there.

The second item of film 94211 is DEL 11/1-2 mixed together. Documents 1-105 of DEL 10 in bundles 1-4 are listed in rough chronological order ending in 1721. There is then a note referring to wills in the custody of Henry Grace delivered in 1744, followed by documents 145-160 from bundle 6 ending in 1832. DEL 11/2 comes next. It is divided into columns giving the case reference, testator's name, and where in Muniment Books 5-6 this material was registered. This is followed immediately by documents 106-144 from bundle 5. At that point DEL 11/2 and bundle 5 were filmed again.

The muniment books are on FHL/BYU films 94212-94214. They are separately indexed at either the start or end of each volume. The coverage of each film is as follows:

  • Film 94212 contains volume 1, 1651/2-1670; volume 2, 1670-1680; volume 3, 1681-1695; volume 4, 1695-1707; and volume 5, 1707-1720.
  • Film 94213 is volume 6, 1720-1733; volume 7, 1733-1752; and volume 8, 1752-1794.
  • Film 94214 is volume 9, 1794-1839, and volume 10, 1840-1857.


The microfilmed Assignation Books for 1716-1720 and 1829-1838 are on FHL/BYU film 94215. Each book is indexed. They can be used as a substitute for the act books.

Finding Probate Records in the Court of Delegates

  1. Start with the printed index. If an entry of interest is found, use item 1 on film 94211 to determine the document number in DEL 10, and if it was registered, the volume number of the Muniment Book.
  2. Search the index in the volume of the matching Muniment Book as indicated in the above films. The index will provide the exact folio number where the case is registered.
  3. If not registered, use the document number and have a search made in DEL 10 at the National Archives for that exact document.