Kent Online Parish Clerks
The Answer - Wills in England and Wales after 1858
The proving of all Wills throughout England and Wales, as of 1 January 1858, was moved into the bailiwick of the Principal Probate Registry. Your 1908 Will, for copying purposes, therefore, will be found at:
Postal Searches and Copies Department,
Leeds District Probate Registry,
Application must be made to the above office with payment of £6.00 for a copy of the Will. You will also have to include the date of death of the individual, last place of residence and possibly - if it is a common name - the name of the spouse or likely Executor. The fee covers a 4-year search if the date of death is unknown. Additional copies of the same Will may be ordered at the same time for an additional £1 per copy.
If you do not have the date of death, nor a close approximation that would be covered by the 4-year gratis search, you will have to add an additional £4.00 for each additional 4-year period you wish to have searched.
There is a PDF search request form at this link:
If you live in England - London - you can view the entire index to Wills and Administrations and order copies at:
Court 38, Royal Courts of Justice,
Tel +1 44 (0)20 7947 6997;
If you live elsewhere in Great Britain you can attend at the District Probate Registry or some Sub-Registries for the area in which your ancestor lived and/or died, to view the index for that jurisdiction. Addresses for the District Probate Registry offices can be found at the bottom of this page:
Web page for the Court Service's probate records:
General web site for the Court Service
If you live elsewhere, particularly North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, or in Britain but are unable to travel too far, and want to do the search and retrieval of a Will yourself, you have several options that will eventually net you the sought-after Will:
If the date of death is not known, locate the death registration from either FreeBMD or one of the pay-per-view services and order the death certificate in order to obtain the exact date of death. You can also try a search of the London Gazette for probate notices up to 2013, free online at
Locate an LDS Family History Centre close to where you live and attend there to order the Principal Probate Registry national index and subsequently order the Will/Administration from the Principal Probate Registry at York. To find a FHC near you go to:
The LDS film particulars are as follows:
Calendar of the grants of probate and letters of administration made in the Principal Registry: and in the several district registries of Her Majesty's Court of Probate beginning on microfilm #0215221. The calendars are arranged by first few letters of surname and year. Some years and surnames are split over two films.
The Calendar up to 1966 is also available on Ancestry.com in their collection titled England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 and, if you have a world or British-focused subscription you can do a search of the calendar here. Otherwise you will have to take out the appropriate subscription with that service in order to search their calendar.
Once you have obtained the details from the probate calendar you will then be able to order the microfilm with the actual Will/Administration via your local LDS Family History Centre. This only applies to Wills proved before 1926. Any Will or probate beyond that year will have to be obtained from the Principal Probate Registry at Leeds, noted above.
Records are arranged by year and month. Within each month the men's wills are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the surname (i.e., all of the surnames beginning with M are grouped together), then arranged by date. Women's wills, also arranged by first letter of the surname, then by date, usually come after the men's wills. If a month and a letter of the alphabet are split between two films, you will need to look at both films. Wills begin on microfilm #1836412.
If you are confident of your date of death and think that probate would have followed within a reasonable time following death, e.g. 3 months after death, then you might just want to take a gamble and go directly to the most logical LDS microfilm as stated in 3. above.