National Library of Wales
Welsh Probate Records, Diocese of St Asaph
Reference code(s): GB 0210 PROBSA
Title: Welsh Probate Records, Diocese of St Asaph
Short title: St Asaph Probate Records
Dates of creation: 1548-1858 (mainly 1565-1648, 1660-1857)
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 44,400 items, 13 vols
Name of creator(s): Church of England. Diocese of St Asaph
Administrative and biographical history: In England and Wales prior to 12 January 1858, wills were proved and letters of administration granted in ecclesiastical courts, each having its own area of jurisdiction. Which court had jurisdiction in a particular case depended mainly on the place of death and the extent and location of the deceased's estate. The Consistory Court of St Asaph was responsible for probate and administration in most of the counties of Denbigh, Flint and Montgomery, Merioneth (thirteen parishes), Caernarfon (three parishes) and Shropshire (nine parishes). From 1648 the Consistory Court of St Asaph ceased to function and during the Commonwealth, 1653-1660, probate in England and Wales was undertaken by the Court of Civil Commission in London. After the Restoration probate business reverted to the jurisdiction of the church courts. In 1858 the responsiblity for probate was transferred from the ecclesiastical courts to a simpler system of civil probate registries.
Scope and content: 44,400 original wills, inventories, administration bonds and miscellaneous other probate records, 1557-1858 (mainly 1583-1649, 1660-1857), from parishes in most of Denbighshire, Flintshire and Montgomeryshire, and parts of Merionethshire, Caernarfonshire and Shropshire, and stray documents from elsewhere in Wales, England and overseas; 13 vols register copy wills, 1548-1709 (mainly 1565-1648, 1660-1669, 1684-1709); and two small bundles of unproved wills (uncatalogued).
ACCESS AND USE
Language/script: Mainly English, some Welsh, small proportion of Latin pre-1733.
Physical characteristics and technical requirements: Some items damaged. Ongoing conservation for original pre-1649 probate records.
System of arrangement: Divided into original probate records arranged chronologically within the diocese, and further sub-divided by parish and surname; and register copy wills and administrations arranged more or less chronologically by volume. (The contents of the pre-1648 volumes are not always in strict chronological order).
Conditions governing access: Public records. Some items unfit for production.
Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.
Finding aids: For searches of original probate records: NLW, full catalogue online, or A2A website; hard copies of the unpublished St Asaph Probate Indexes, 1548-1649, 1660-1699, 1700-1749, 1750-1858; manuscript indexes, 1583-1857. Abstracts and Indexes of Original Wills, St Asaph Diocese, are available on microfiche, compiled by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Act books, 1584-1858, may supply details where original documents do not survive. For register copy wills: NLW, hard copy of the unpublished St Asaph Probate Index, 1548-1649; and integral indexes in volumes of register copy wills, 1548-1709. For unproved wills, a manuscript Index to Unproved Wills, 1754-1879. Hard copies of the NLW indexes to original pre-1858 wills of the Diocese of St Asaph are held by Gwynedd Archives Service, Dolgellau, Denbighshire Record Office, Flintshire Record Office, Powys County Archives Office, Shropshire Records and Research Centre, The Family Records Centre and the Society of Genealogists, London. N.B. For best results in personal name searches, possible alternative spellings of each name should be considered.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained.
Accruals: Accruals are not expected.
Archival history: In 1858 the earlier probate records from the Consistory Court were transferred to the District Probate Registry at St Asaph. They were conveyed thence to the National Library of Wales in 1945, in accordance with the Direction of the President of the Probate Division of the High Court of Justice.
Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by St Asaph District Probate Registry in 1945.
Related units of description: Register copy wills of the District Probate Registry of St Asaph, 1858-1928, with the exception of those from Montgomeryshire, are held by NLW and by the Principal Registry of the Family Division, London. Copies of post-1858 Montgomeryshire wills are held by the Shropshire Records and Research Centre, Shrewsbury. Some wills and administrations are included in the consistory court papers filed with the diocesan records of the Church in Wales, held at NLW. Other sources of probate records from Wales are the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and those of the Court of Civil Commission, available for consultation at the National Archives, Kew.
Note: Title derived from content of fonds.
Archivist's note: Compiled by Hilary A. Peters for the ANW project from the following sources: NLW, unpublished St Asaph Probate Indexes, 1548-1858; NLW, information leaflet Probate Records in the National Library of Wales (1993).
Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.
Date(s) of description: June 2006