National Probate Calendars and Wills
Since 1858, the probate of estates has been a matter of civil law. The lists of probates – called calendars – are prepared annually in alphabetical order. The information provided includes name of the deceased, their abode, the estate value and to whom probate was granted. Each year the national probate registry publishes these lists which have been available in a number of archives for the period 1858-1943. These calendars can be viewed on microfiche at Lichfield Record Office.
Ancestry.co.uk now has scanned images of the probate calendars available online from 1858-1941 although there are some “gaps”. These are searchable by name and date. The images are of the Calendars, not of the actual wills.
Information about ordering copy wills is available at https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate and it is a simple process to order a copy by post once you have the details from the probate calendars. The fees are currently £5 per item and the Probate Registry aims to meet orders within 21 days. (Please note that this information can change regularly!).
Wills can be extremely informative for family historians as some detail siblings, children, nephews, nieces, etc. A will can unlock the past and even bring down a long-standing brick-wall!