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Probate records: wills, letters of administration and inventories

There are three main types of probate records

  • Wills are statements of how a person (the testator) wants their property to be disposed of after their death
  • Letters of administration (also known as admons) were issued if someone died without having made a will
  • Inventories are lists of personal property, giving the value of each site, sometimes accompanying a will or admon

Please see our guide to wills (pdf, 31kb) (opens in a new window) to learn more about using these records for your research.

Where can I find wills and other probate records?

  • There is a card index of wills, arranged alphabetically by surname at Dorset History Centre 
  • The wills themselves are on microfilm, or can be accessed through the Ancestry website
  • Some Dorset wills were proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). These wills are not retained here, but can be searched and downloaded through  The National Archives website (opens in a new window) for a fee

After 1858, civil courts took over the business of proving wills from the church with the establishment of the Principle Probate Registry.

  • We hold the calendar (i.e. summary list) of these wills on microfilm for 1858 to 1935
  • To obtain a copy of a post-1858 will you will need to contact the Leeds District Probate Registry - you can find contact information and guides to research on the Wills, probate and inheritance (opens in a new window) page on

You can also find probate records contained in other collections in the archive, particularly in family and solicitor collections - you can search these collections using our online catalogue.

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