Court of the Archdeaconry of Colchester

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Return to the Essex Probate Records page.

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 the "Records" (below) to determine what probate records exist for this court.
3. Contact or visit the Essex County 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.


Probate Indexes[edit | edit source]

The Archdeaconry Court of Colchester probate records are well-covered with the following indexes:

Online indexes
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A general will index for Essex County is available  online. This single index consolidates just about all Essex county wills of the various probate court jurisdictions into one database.

  • 1505-1916 - Essex Wills Beneficiaries Index, 1505-1916, online at findmypast. Includes Bishop of London's Commissary Court (Essex & Hertfordshire), Archdeaconry Court of Colchester, Archdeaconry Court of Essex, Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex (Essex & Hertfordshire), Peculiar Court of Deanery of Bocking, Peculiar Court of Good Easter, Peculiar Court of the Sokens, Peculiar Court of Writtle with Roxwell.

Printed and Published Indexes
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The Essex County Record Office compiled and published a complete surname index covering wills and administrations from eight Essex County probate courts including this court.

  • Emmison, F. G., ed.  [Index to] Wills at Chelmsford.  (FHL book 942 B4b vols. 78, 79 & 84; also on microfilms 0962739 and 0962740; also on microfiche 6073796, 6073797, and 6073802.)

Original Handwritten Indexes:

Calendars to the Probate Acts of Wills and Administrations (Admons) exist from 1400-1858. Calendars are a kind of index to the day to day probate court procedures in which wills and admons (administrations) are processed.

In addition to the calendars, a majority of the original (unregistered) wills and the registered wills are alphabetically arranged at the Record Office and are likewise organized on the microfilmed probates for this court at the Family History Library. Visit the Essex County Archives or the FamilySearch Catalog under Essex, England to determine the film numbers of the following records to search:

Microfilmed Indexes at the Family History Library:

Original (Unregistered) Wills and Registered Wills as well as the extant indexes for this court are available on microfilm at the Family History Library and may be circulated to each of its satellite Family History Centers (see Court of the Archdeaconry of Essex). You can  visit the Essex County Archives or go to the FamilySearch Catalog's "Place Search" and type in "Essex", [England]; then click on "Probate Records - Indexes" to determine availability of probate indexes, or click here to go directly to the FamilySearch Catalog entry showing these courts' records.
Some indexes area available as follows:

Visit the Essex County Archives or the Family History Library to access these indexes. To obtain the film numbers to these records for viewing them, see this catalog entry under Essex, England.

Records[edit | edit source]

Probate records of the Court of the Archdeaconry of Essex were once held in the Chelmsford Cathedral Registry. After the setup of civil courts by act of Parliament in 1858, they were removed to Somerset House, London in 1858. In 1958, almost all of Essex wills were transferred back to Chelmsford to the County Hall, where they reside today.

These records date from 1495 to 1857 and cover 104 parishes in Essex.

Archives Location[edit | edit source]

Essex Record Office
Archives & Museums
Wharf Road
Chelmsford CM12 6YT
Telephone (01245) 244644

Website: Essex County Record Office

Archive Records[edit | edit source]

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

Calendars (first-letter-of-surname index) of Wills and Administration Acts are divided into four calendar books: 

  • Calendars 1495-1858
  • Registered Wills Registered Wills with alpha indexes preceding the wills date from 1500-1858
  • Original Wills and Administration (Admons) - unindexed - 1583-1652; 1660-1858 
  • Administrations (at Essex County Record Office) 1678-1857
  • Act Books 

Probate and Admininstration Acts 1663-1858 

Family History Library Records[edit | edit source]

For determining the Family History Library's microfilmed collection of the Archdeaconry Court of Colchester, see the FamilySearch Catalog entry for this court.

  • Abstracts of wills 1558-1603 edited by F.G. Emmison. in FHL book call no. 942.67 P2e vols. 1-12