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About Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York Probate Index 1688-1858

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All P&ECY indexes are now online on the National Wills Index.
Other P&ECY indexes are covered by the following collections:
  • York Medieval Probate Index 1267-1500
  • British Record Society Probate Collection includes:
    Wills in the York Registry 1500-1688
    York wills for the Commonwealth Period 1649-1660 proved at the PCC
  • With the York Peculiars Probate Index 1383-1883 the National Wills Index now has all York probate indexes.
    The Index
    The Prerogative & Exchequer Court of York Probate Index contains the following fields:
    • Last name of testator
    • First name of testator
    • Place, usually of death, but sometimes where the testator had at some time been living; this field usually, but not always, contains the parish.
    • County, or country if not England or Wales
    • Court where probate was granted: P = Prerogative Court of York; E = Exchequer Court of York
    • Document type
    • Date of probate (year and month)
    • Source document reference (for use of the Borthwick Institute)
    • Index reference (see below)
    • Index note present: if this field contains "Yes" it means that there is a marginal note in the original index entry.
    You can search on Last name, First name, County/Country and Year range. County or Country can be selected from a drop-down list.

    Although over 80% of the records relate to Yorkshire, people from all over the British Isles and abroad had property in the Province of York, and had their wills proved in the Prerogative or Exchequer Court of York.

    Each index entry has two buttons on the right, one to allow display of the image of the original index page, the other to allow online ordering of a copy of the source document. We recommend that you view the original index entries, for these often contain extra information which is not in the computerised index and which may help you decide whether to order copies of the documents.

    The original documents provide a great deal of valuable information to the family historian and copies of these can be ordered online via the National Wills Index.

    Click here for examples of index records
    Click here for explanation of index fields


    The Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York
    Prior to 1858, wills were proved in an ecclesiastical court. Which court dealt with a particular will depended on where property was held.

    Parishes of the Church of England were grouped into archdeaconries, and a group of archdeaconries formed a diocese (ie the area of a bishop's jurisdiction). Each diocese belonged either to the ecclesiastical province of York or of Canterbury. The province of York had jurisdiction in the counties of Cheshire, Cumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Westmorland and Yorkshire; Canterbury had jurisdiction over the rest of England and Wales.

    If a person's property lay wholly within one archdeaconry, the will was generally proved in that archdeacon's court. But if property worth £5 or more were owned elsewhere the will would be proved in a higher court, that of a bishop or archbishop.

    The Prerogative Court of York
    If the property were owned in more than one diocese, the will would be proved in one of the two archbishops' prerogative courts. If the property were all within the province of York, probate would be dealt with by the Prerogative Court of York (PCY), otherwise by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). So if property were owned in both provinces, probate was dealt with by PCC, the senior court.

    The Exchequer Court of York
    The Exchequer Court exercised jurisdiction over lay men and unbeneficed clergy (that is who were not rectors or vicars) with goods in the diocese of York only.

    Nottinghamshire wills proved in the Exchequer Court of York
    Until 1837 Nottinghamshire was part of the diocese of York, and wills were proved at York. Though all original probate records relating to Nottinghamshire proved in the Prerogative Court of York remain at the Borthwick, those proved in the Exchequer Court have now been transferred to Nottinghamshire Archives. Registered copies of these Exchequer Court wills remain at the Borthwick, so you can order hard copies of all wills which relate to Nottinghamshire, whether proved in the Exchequer or Prerogative Court, but not other documents. In the index presently (ie covering May 1731 to Jan 1858) there are references to over 23,000 grants of probate relating to Nottinghamshire, of which 80% were granted by the Exchequer Court; in about 20% of these cases there is no will and so the documents are not available at the Borthwick. However, the Borthwick can supply the administration entries for these grants which, though fairly brief, do give the names of the executors. If ordering documents for grants relating to Nottinghamshire, we recommend you check whether probate was granted in the Exchequer Court, and then whether the will is included in the documents. If you place an order for a "Nottinghamshire" document where there is no will, and where probate was granted by the Exchequer Court, be aware that you will receive only a copy of the administration entry from the probate act book.


    Ordering digital copies of original documents
    Borthwick original documents are provided as digitised images, sent by email.

    You can order a digitised copy of any document by simply clicking of the "Add to cart" button alongside each record. The cost of each document is £10. (NB If there is more than one document referred to you will receive copies of each.)
    The Borthwick Institute aims to complete all customer orders within 28 working days and most orders are fulfilled well within this timescale.


    See also:  Help searching Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York Probate
      Abbreviations
      Latin probate index entries
      Examples of index records
      About the Borthwick Institute for Archives
      Article: About Church Courts
    For help negotiating the labyrinth of over 300 pre 1858 probate courts explore our collection of Jeremy Gibson’s probate jurisdiction maps.
    Explore Probate Jurisdictions Maps
    Borthwick Institute for Archives
    The York Series of Probate Indexes are presented in association with the Borthwick Institute for Archives