United Kingdom · Wills & probate

Wednesdays Resources – Probate Calendars England & Wales

Two weeks ago, I wrote about UK Gov Find a Will, which can be used instead of the England & Wales Probate Calendar collection at ancestry.  One of the featured collections in last week’s FindMyPast Fridays was Probate Calendars England & Wales.

I currently don’t have a subscription to FindMyPast, but I have subscribed to their Pay Per View option.  One of the frustrating things I find about FindMyPast is the limited amount of information in the search results.  I find that often I am using credits to view records, only to find the record contains little information of value.

In the case of the Probate Calendars, this problem seemed even worse.  When I navigated to this collection, this is the search form I was presented with.

Search form

This only allowed me to select the Year (with a default of +- 2 years), and the option to choose the first letter of the surname.  So, I went to my family tree, and picked out the first person who would have died in England or Wales within this time period, George Abraham, who died in 1935.  Once I entered the Year 1935, and the first letter of surname A, this was the results page.

Results page

The results give no indication of which page the record I was looking for might be found on.  I then clicked on the icon next to one of the search results, and found that I had to use 5 credits to even see if the person I was looking for was on that page.

Request for credits

In order to be able to make use of this collection, I would need to have a monthly or yearly subscription – it would use up too many credits to try and find a relevant record using the Pay Per View option.

After reading other comments about this collection, I then tried selecting the exact year, and using the full name of the person in the Keywords field.  This then brought up 5 results, which in my opinion is still too many, particularly since the Keywords not only picks up the name of the deceased, but the names of the executors.  This collection may be useful for those with a full FindMyPast subscription, particularly those undertaking a One-Name or One-Locality study, but for those using a Pay Per View option, a better alternative is to use the UK Gov Find a Will option.

I also have a Pay Per View subscription with Ancestry, so I decided to check the access to the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 collection.  So, I used the Card Catalogue to select this collection, and then, on the search form, I entered the details of the person I was looking for.

Ancestry search

These were the results for George Abraham, who died in 1935.

Ancestry search result

The first result was the one that matched the person in my tree, so I clicked on this result for further details.

George Abraham probate entry

This gave me date and place of death, date of probate, and registry.  Now, if I want more details,  I can simply go to UK Gov Find a Will, and look at the image there.