Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pre-1858 Welsh Wills Online Through National Library Of Wales

Prior to the introduction of Civil Probate on 11 January 1858, wills were proved in the Welsh ecclesiastical courts. The old indexes produced by the courts themselves have now been replaced by a new online index. If you have ancestors from Wales, this will likely be of interest to you. The National Library of Wales, itself located at Aberystwyth, offers 190,000 pre-1858 Welsh wills online that can be searched for free. This is the link to the Wales Wills Database.

The dates of the probate records covered are:

Bangor: 1635 - 1858
Brecon: 1543 - 1858
Chester (Welsh wills): 1557 - 1858
Hawarden: 1554 - 1858
Llandaf: 1568 - 1857
St Asaph: 1565 - 1857
St David's: 1556 - 1858

For information about wills after 1858, the Library has custody of register copy wills from 5 registries, covering all of the Welsh counties (with the exception of Montgomeryshire), and a full set of the annual index of all wills and administrations granted in England and Wales, known as the Calendar of Grants, from 1858 to 1972.

In addition to the official probate records, there are also some wills and inventories and other papers associated with probate that can be found in the consistory court papers filed with the diocesan records of the Church in Wales. These can be searched through the online Archives and Manuscripts catalogue - please note that this page is written in Welsh and English.

The Library's collections of family, estate and personal papers contain thousands of wills:
  • some that might not have survived in the official probate records,
  • or may never have been proved,
  • or may have been proved outside Wales.

This is the result of five years of hard work by a lot of people to make this resource available to those unable to visit the National Library. Of the 190,000 wills (over 800,000 total pages!), about one thousand of the wills are written in the Welsh language. The wills are also dated from the 14th century up to 1858.

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