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Wills - the Last Testament - Family History

Whilst researching our family history, it is likely that we will discover the last will and testament of one or more of our ancestors. It is a legal document that records their last wishes regarding the distribution of their wealth.

The information contained in wills can give us the names of individuals that were either closely related to, or otherwise very important to the person dictating the will. It is often true that the witnesses to the will would either be relatives, close friends, or business associates.

In the UK, records of wills are kept in most record offices or county archives, in annual volumes, and recorded alphabetically. Wills are therefore relatively simple to locate.

Once found, one simply applies to the Probate Office responsible for the area in which the will was proven.

There is an excellent online resource run by the National Archives with many online documents, including wills dated between 1383 and 1858, war medal awards and much more.

Further information about wills after 1858 may be found on the H.M.C.S. website.

To see an example of a will then you can print copies of the two images below.

Copy of a Will

A typical Will

Copy of Probate

Probate Report



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