Family historians have a new route for accessing copies of their ancestors’ wills following the creation of a new web system.
The Probate Service has launched an online wills index for England and Wales, enabling people to search for any will dating from 1858-1996 and order a digital copy via their computer. Searchable by name within specific years, the index links to a digitised version of the National Probate Calendar, showing all matching entries from the appropriate volume. Once the correct person has been found – indicated by details such as address and court where the will was proved – researchers can then ‘click through’ and order a digital copy at a cost of £10 each. The document will then be made available as a download, generally within 10 working days.
Launched on Thursday 11 December, the new system is to act as a replacement for the Principal Probate Registry search room at the Royal Courts of Justice, which will permanently close on Friday 19 December.
While researchers can apply for wills by post or at district probate registries, the London facility has been the only place the complete National Probate Calendar can be accessed by the public. Although scans of Calendar volumes are available through Ancestry.co.uk – used by many when filling out a postal order form – this set only covers 1858-1966.
Thanks to Who Do You Think You Are Magazine for higlighting this new resource.