Thursday, 19 April 2012

English and Welsh probate calendars and soldiers wills to go online

With thanks to Beryl Evans of the Federation of Family History Societies ( for the following, but also to Geoff Swinfield @GeoffatGSGS who contacted me via Twitter with similar information, and who has similarly blogged about it at

The following report has been received from Lady Teviot, FFHS representative at the Probate Stake Holders Meeting held in London on 17th April 2012

Chaired by John Briden from HMCTS and representatives from Iron Mountain Document Management.

Much of the discussion centred on the time taken for the for the production of copies and whether the one hour service at First Avenue House which has been discontinued and replaced by a forty eight service should be reinstated. John Briden said that the service had to cater for different users most of whom were happy with the present arrangement. Another point which took up time was the sealing of wills and resealing and this was from the legal viewpoint and not from family historians


The discovery of 300,000 Soldiers Wills in boxes which have never been entered in the Calendars will become available online by the end of the year is of great interest. They cover the Crimean War, the 1st WW and the 2nd WW, no mention was made of the Boer War. They apply to non commissioned officers.

The order of which it is thought wills and administrations will come online is:
  • Soldiers Wills
  • Probate 2006 to current
  • 1996 to 2005
  • 1940 to 1995
  • 1858 to 1900
  • 1901 to 1939

There was some discussion as to whether the last two were in the correct order of availability.
The using of the calendars will be the same as looking at a book and turning the pages.

NB: Many of the English calendars are already available via Ancestry (up to 1941), though there are gaps in the coverage, so this will be welcome news, as will the release of the hitherto unknown of soldiers' wills for 300,000 soldiers killed in action between the Crimean War and WW2. Geoff's blog has further details on how these will be presented online.

For access to the equivalent southern Irish calendars, please the dedicated link at the top of this blog (right hand side of page).


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1 comment:

  1. Some soldiers' wills (officers and other ranks) are actually in the Probate Calendars already. And very informative the entries are.
    Geoff says soldiers, you say non-commissioned officers (ie corporals, sergeants etc). There is a big difference.
    I suspect that the new material will largely relate to wills filled in by soldiers in their paybooks.