Probate records

For more about probate and wills, including information on the church courts, administrations and inventories, see our separate guide.

Before 11 January 1858

Most wills before the above date were proved in church courts. In Norfolk a few early wills were registered in the borough courts of Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth and no ecclesiastical court functioned during the Commonwealth period, 1653-60.

11 January 1858 onwards

The Court of Probates Act, which came into force on the above date, abolished the church courts’ jurisdiction over wills and established the Principal Probate Registry. This holds copies of all wills proved since then.

The wills (originals and registers) and administrations (act books and bonds) were transferred from the Diocese of Norwich to the Norwich District Probate Registry; only the inventories were not transferred.

Indexes

The printed and typescript indexes mentioned below for the pre-1858 records can be searched via our online catalogue.  

Records

Norwich Consistory Court

  • Wills, 1370-1858 (with gaps). Available on microfilm. Contemporary indexes for 1370-1858 are available on microfilm. Indexes for 1370-1858 (with gaps) are available in print.
  • Administrations, 1371-1857 (with gaps). Available on microfilm. Contemporary indexes for 1666-1857 are available on microfilm. Indexes for 1371-1857 (with gaps) are available in typescript.
  • Inventories, 1553-1849. Available on microfilm. Indexes by person, place and occupation are available in typescript.
  • For post-1858, see below.

Archdeaconry of Norfolk

  • Wills, 1453, 1459-1636 and 1660-1858 (with gaps). Available on microfilm. Contemporary indexes for 1460-1858 are available on microfilm. Indexes for 1453-1858 are available in print.
  • Administrations, 1541-1857 (with gaps). Available on microfilm. Contemporary indexes for 1541-1858 are available on microfilm. Indexes for 1691-1868 are in typescript.
  • Inventories, 1728-74. Available on microfilm. Indexes available in typescript.
  • For post-1858, see below.

Archdeaconry of Norwich

  • Wills: registered copies, 1469-1652 and 1660-1858; original wills, 1530-1652 and 1660-1858. Available on microfilm. Contemporary indexes arranged alphabetically year by year, 1469-1858, are available on microfilm. Indexes for 1469-1858 (including local Commonwealth wills) available in typescript.
  • Administrations: act books, 1590-1609, 1624-26, 1632-37, 1660-81; bonds, 1682-83, 1686-88, 1680-1857. Available on microfilm. Indexes to act books and bonds, 1590-1857, available in typescript. Manuscript indexes to bonds, 1700-1857, available on microfilm.
  • Inventories: 1674-75, 1682-83, 1692-93, 1700-1825 (with gaps). Available on microfilm. Indexes of persons, places and occupations available in typescript.
  • For post-1858, see below.

Dean and Chapter of Norwich

  • Wills: registered copies, 1416-52 (on the comperta rolls), 1444-54, 1461-1652, 1660-1857; original wills, 1529-1651, 1660-1857. Available on microfilm. Indexes: names, places and occupations, 1416-1857, are available in typescript.
  • Administrations: 1444-1559, included in the will registers; act book, 1613-80; bonds, 1706-1857. Available on microfilm. Indexes to act books and bonds, 1613-1857, are available in typescript.
  • Inventories: 1681-94, 1717, 1727-82, in five bundles, each including a manuscript list or index; a few inventories occur with the original wills, 1529-1629, among the probate records. Available on microfilm. Indexes are available in print.
  • For post-1858, see below.

Peculiar of Castle Rising

  • Wills: originals, 1624-92, 1703-24. Available on microfilm. Indexes to names, places and occupations available in print. Manuscript indexes available on microfilm.
  • Administration: bonds are in one bundle, 1703-20. Available on microfilm. Indexes available in print.
  • For post-1858, see below.

Peculiar of Great Cressingham

  • Wills: registered copies, 1675-1742; original wills, 1701-54. Available on microfilm. Indexes to names, places and occupations available in print.
  • Administrations: six bonds only, 1678-1751. Available on microfilm. Indexes to names, places and occupations available in print.
  • For post-1858, see below.

City of Norwich

Wills proved in the Court of the City of Norwich were entered on the City court rolls with the Norwich enrolled deeds. They are indexed to 1508.

Very few wills were enrolled after the early 16th century and those which do occur are likely to be copies of wills proved first in the church courts.

  • Enrolled deeds: 1286-1340, 1377-1405, and 1413-1851. Available on microfilm. Indexes, 1286-1508, are available in print.
  • For post-1858, see below.

King’s Lynn

In 1335 King’s Lynn (formerly Lynn Episcopi) obtained the right to have wills relating to property within the borough approved and enrolled in the town’s Guildhall.

The following Lynn wills not proved elsewhere are held at King’s Lynn:

  • 19 enrolled and deposited wills, 1276-1539. Available on microfilm at the Norfolk Record Office.
  • Some 14th century wills entered into the Red Register, c1300-95: these are transcribed and indexed in The Red Register of King’s Lynn ed. H Ingleby, two volumes (1922).
  • For post-1858, see below.

Great Yarmouth

Some wills and extracts are included in the borough court rolls up to 1500. For post-1858, see below.

Post-1858 Norwich Probate District Registry

  • Registers: Wills only, 1858-1941. Available on microfilm for 1858-1925 only.
  • Indexes: Wills, 1858-1941, and Administrations, 1858-1909, 1914-41. Available on microfilm.