Lancashire probate records
Before 1858, wills of people from the Bolton area were proved at the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Chester. Lancashire wills and other probate records, including inventories and letters of administration, 1545-1858, are now available at the Lancashire Record Office, Preston.
Indexes of these, 1545-1837, have been published by the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire and are available in the Archive and Local Studies Searchroom. If you wish to see them, please ask at the Enquiry Desk.
Since 11th January 1858 the proving of wills and granting of letters of administration in England and Wales has been the responsibility of the civil probate registries.
Until May 1998, the Principal Registry was at Somerset House in London, but has now moved to the following address
Principal Registry of the Family Division
First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn
Telephone: 020 7947 6000
Copies of all wills proved and letters of administration granted from 1858 onwards may be consulted there in the Probate Search Room.
The National Probate Calendar, which is an index to all wills proved and letters of administration granted in England and Wales from 1858, is now available on microfilm in the Bolton Archive and Local Studies Search Room, for the years 1858 to 1930 inclusive and 1931-1943 on microfiche.
In order to find a will or letter of administration, select the initial letter of the deceased person’s surname and the approximate date of death. Remember that the probate or grant may sometimes be several years after the person died. Entries in the index are arranged in strict alphabetical order of surnames and forenames.
From 1858 to 1870, there are separate lists of wills and letters of administration for each year; from 1871, wills and letters of administration are listed in one alphabetical sequence. If you find the will or administration which you are looking for and are unable to visit the Probate Search Room at First Avenue House in London, you can order a copy by post.
The Postal Service and Copies Department
York Probate Sub-Registry
Telephone: 01904 666777 / 666780
Many early Bolton wills and probate inventories, 1571-1600, have been transcribed and published by Bolton and District Family History Society (Reference B929.3 BOL). Our archival holdings, particularly collections of family papers and title deeds often include original wills; these have been indexed.
Most wills and other probate records before 1858 for the Bolton area are available at the Lancashire Record Office, Bow Lane, Preston. Indexes to these, which have been printed for the years 1545 to 1837 by the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, may be consulted in the Bolton Archive and Local Studies Search Room.
To look at them ask a member of staff. Indexes 1838 to 1858 are available at the Lancashire Record Office.