Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (Essex and Hertfordshire Division)

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Return to the Middlesex Probate Records page.

Go to the Essex Probate Records page.

Step By Step
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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.
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. Or, you can visit The Family History Library or, one of its 4,500 satellite family history centers worldwide and search indexes and original wills and admon records. With the information obtained from the index[es] you can search more quickly the original wills and admons which are also on microfilm, via any centers near you.

Indexes[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes[edit | edit source]

A general will index for Essex County is available online.  (Choose 'Index Searches' then search by 'People' for the name of the deceased.)  This single index consolidates Essex county wills of the various probate court jurisdictions, including the various smaller Peculiar Court jurisdictions into one database.

Printed and Published Indexes[edit | edit source]

If the indexes on the Internet do not produce possible wills for your ancestors, look in the published indexes listed here.

Every-name index

This indexes every name contained in the will, not just the name of the person leaving the will.  As such it includes many more people than a testator index:

Abstracts of copy wills, Commissary Court of London, Essex and Herts division, registered wills, 1725-1858

Testator index

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.  The index is available in three volumes at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:

  • Emmison, F. G., ed.  [Index to] Wills at Chelmsford.  London: s.n., 1961, by the British Record Society.  (FHL book 942 B4b vols. 78, 79 & 84; also on microfilms 0962739 and 0962740, and on microfiche 6073796, 6073797, and 6073802.) 

NOTE:  Emmison's index is to the records of six courts including the Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London, which is designated by the letter 'B' in the index references.  A second letter designation used is either 'R' for registered wills or 'W' for original wills.  Each index reference also includes two separate numbers.  The first is the item number of the will and the second is the number for the box or set in which the will is included.  A sample reference is:   

  • 1580 -- Abbott, George, gentleman, East Tilbury -- 43 BW 2

This means that George Abbott's original will is item 43 in box 2 of the wills for the Commissary of the Bishop of London.  If you use the collection of the Family History Library, go to the "Probate Records at The Family History Library" section below and click on each link to the various probate records listed, to help you determine microfilm numbers for ordering  and searching (them) at one of our Family History Centers nearest to you. Or, you can go to our Family History Library Catalog online catalog (at, to obtain the film numbers there, under "Essex", then "Probate Records" and then click on the link, "Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (essex & Hertfordshire Division)". To find a family History Center near you, go to and click on "Library".

Other handwritten indexes are listed below in the "Indexes" section.  Click on the court name links on the Essex County Probate home page.

Original handwritten indexes:

Indexes to the Probate Acts of Wills and Administrations (Admons) exist as follows:

  • Registered Wills:                                    1496-1585; 1667-1726
  • Un-Registered Wills:                               1585-1725
  • Wills & Admininstrations:                        1688-1858
  • Calendars (first-letter of surname index)    1495-1858

In addition to the calendars, some 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 Family History Library Catalog under Essex, England to determine availability of records.

Microfilmed indexes available 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 Family History Library 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 Family History Library Catalog entry showing these courts' records. Some indexes area available as follows:

Records[edit | edit source]

Archives Location[edit | edit source]

The original records of this court are deposited at:

Essex Record Office Archives & Museums Wharf Road Chelmsford CM12 6YT

Telephone (01245) 244644 E-mail:

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 in to the following six calendar books: 

  • Calendar  Vol. 1:  1495-1585
  • Calendar  Vol. 2:  1585-1621
  • Calendar  Vol. 3:  1621-1725
  • Calendar  Vol. 4:  1670-1726
  • Calendar  Vol. 5:  1688-1783
  • Calendar  Vol. 6:  1784-1858

In addition to the general index above, many of the earlier or pre-1585 filmed volumes also contain a separate index to the wills and administrations. For an index to the post-1585 period, search the online  county-wide index at the Essex County Record Office website.

Registered Wills Registered Wills with alpha indexes preceding the wills date from 1500-1585

Registered Wills (un-indexed) 1667-1858

Original Wills 

Original Wills and Administration (Admons) - unindexed - 1583-1652; 1660-1858 

Administrations (at Essex County Record Office)


Act Books 

Probate and Admininstration Acts 1663-1858 

These records are located at the Essex County Record Office (see address above). For determining the Family History Library's microfilmed collection of the Archdeaconry Court of Colchester, see the Family History Library Catalog entry for this court.

Family History Library Records[edit | edit source]

Calendars (first-letter-of-surname index) of Wills and Administration Acts are divided in to six calendar books:

Calendar Vol. 1: 1495-1585
Calendar Vol. 2: 1585-1621
Calendar Vol. 3: 1621-1725
Calendar Vol. 4: 1670-1726
Calendar Vol. 5: 1688-1783
Calendar Vol. 6: 1784-1858

In addition to the general index above, many of the earlier or pre-1585 filmed volumes also contain a separate index to the wills and administrations. For an index to the post-1585 period, search the online county-wide index at the Essex County Record Office website.

Jurisdiction[edit | edit source]

The probate records of the Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (Essex & Hertfordshire Division) date from 1431 to 1858 and cover 104 parishes in Essex. The records were transferred to the Diocese of London in 1858 and held there until 1958 when they were transferred back to the Chelmsford County Hall, where they reside today.

Administrations for the years 1678 to 1857 are available at the Essex County Record Office, Chelmsford, U.K. The Family History Library has on microfilm, many of the admininstrations (or Admons).

To view a list of parishes and their respective probate court jurisdiction, see the "Essex Parishes Parishes and Their Probate Jurisdictions" on the main page for Essex Probate Records.