Essex Probate Jurisdictions

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Essex Probate Courts Prior to 1858

Portions of County Essex court jurisdictions have always been associated with Greater London and the County of Middlesex. When the precise Essex parish of residence at the time of death is unknown, recourse has to be made to the records of the jurisdictions relating not only to Essex but to London and Middlesex as well. Essex County is divided mostly into the following five main probate jurisdictions:

1. Court of the Archdeaconry of Essex 2. Archdeaconry Court of Colchester 3. Commissary Court of the Bishop of London (Essex & Hertfordshire Division) 4. Commissary Court of the Bishop of London (London Division) 5. Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex (Essex & Hertfordshire Division)

The rest of Essex County is divided up into several smaller peculiar court jurisdictions. The majority of genealogical searches should be made in the records of the above five major courts. The following is a complete listing of the probate courts holding peculiar jurisdiction (or granted special privileges to probate wills) in Essex County:

  • Peculiar of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Peculiar Deanery of Bocking
  • Peculiar Court of Good Easter
  • Peculiar Court of Writtle and Roxwell
  • Peculiar of the Liberty of the Sokens
  • Peculiar Court of Hornchurch (& Romford and Havering-atte-Bowers)
  • Peculiar Court of the Dean & Chapter of St Pauls (London)
  • Royal Peculiar of the Dean & Chapter of Westminster

Other probate courts holding higher jurisdictions include:

  • Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury (P.C.C.)
  • High Court of Delegates
  • Court of Arches

In the diocese of Canterbury, the Commissary-General exercised probate jurisdiction within the diocese. He also exercised the Archbishop’s prerogative throughout the diocese, and prerogative probate records exist from 1397 to about 1759 in the records of the Court of the Episcopal Consistory of Canterbury. The Court of the Provost of the College of Wingham was closed in 1547. After that date wills of residents living in the parishes of this jurisdiction are found in the records of the Court of the Episcopal Consistory of Canterbury.

[edit] Kent Parishes and Their Probate Jurisdictions

To see a list of Kent parishes and the courts with probate jurisdiction over them, click on the letter the parish name begins with.