Court of the Bishop of Bath and Wells (Episcopal Consistory)

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Step By Step[edit | edit source]

1. First search each index (see below) to help you more quickly find the will, writing down each detail cited in the indexed entry.

2. Proceed to "Records" (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court. Also see "Probate Records of This Court in The Family History Library."

3. Contact or visit the Somersetshire Record Office or, hire a professional record searcher to view these records on your behalf. Officials may send upon request a list of record searchers.

4. Visit The Family History Library,or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes to probate records then with the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons also on microfilm via any centers near you.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Online Index[edit | edit source]

Here is an online index of Somersetshire wills 1796-1857

Printed and Published Indexes[edit | edit source]

"Wells Wills arranged in Parishes and Annotated" by Rev. F.W. Weaver (1890) has wills 1528-1536

Register Wills 1539-1541/2 abstracted in Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society Proceedings vol 61, pp 65-104

Also try the following indexes at the Family History Library:

Estate Duty Wills 1805-1811

Estate Duty Wills Index 1812-1857

Death Duty Registers of Abstracts of Administrations and Probates of Wills 1796-1811

Records[edit | edit source]

Important Note:[edit | edit source]

The records of the Court of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, all of which were deposited at the Probate Registry at Exeter, were destroyed by enemy action during World War II.  The following is information on the few records that survive.

Archive Locations[edit | edit source]

The surviving original records are deposited at:

Somerset Archives and Local Studies

Somerset Heritage Centre

Taunton U.K. TA2 6SF


Tel: (0)1823 278805


Archive Records[edit | edit source]

Add information about the manuscript, printed and digital records in this location.

  • Register copy wills, loose leaves from between the years 1558-1626 (about 105 wills total)
  • Original wills, 1575-1640  
  • Inventories, 1575-1640 (and a few to 1682)
  • Administration bonds, 1570-1680 
  • Act books 1817-1823, 1827-1835, 1837, 1842-1850
  • Loose Leaves from Registers [of Wills] 1558-1591; 1618-1619; 1626
  • Other miscellaneous records

Family History Library Records[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has very few original probate records for Somerset on microfilm and but few for this court.

Inventories 1581-1741

Administrator Accounts 1581-1741

The Family History Library has very few original probate records for Somerset on microfilm. Most of the what the library has is various volumes of published abstracts. These include:

Others[edit | edit source]

The Society of Genealogists in London has copies of published abstracts of wills and other probate documents for Somerset.  To see a list of titles, search their library catalogue for the Subject of "Somerset - General: Wills."

Jurisdiction[edit | edit source]

The court was part of the Diocese of Bath and Wells. The court held jurisdiction over the whole diocese.