Kent has the largest collection of probate records of any English county but there are as yet no published indexes to much of this material. Indexes to all of these records will become available on the National Wills Index.

Kent probate indexes currently available:

  • 28,031 wills - West Kent Wills Index, 1440-1857
  • 27,812 inventories - Kent inventories 1571-1842.

Start exploring the Kent Wills and Probate Indexes

Note: where more than one document exists for a testator Doc. Type will show Multiple and a link Click to Show will be displayed allowing you to see all document references.

Searching can be performed on the following fields: last name, first name, county / place (drop down), probate court (drop down), document type (drop down), occupation, and year range.

Locating original documents

The original probate documents are held at The Kent History & Library Centre. To obtain copies of an original will, admon or inventory you need to contact by letter, fax or e-mail, giving full details and references. They will then send you details on obtaining copies plus cost. See The Kent History & Library Centre website for contact details.

West Kent Wills Index, 1440-1857

This is a dataset of the wills proved in the Archdeaconry & Consistory Courts of Rochester and the Peculiar of Cliffe, c1440-1857. It represents the content of several card indexes formerly housed at the Centre for Kentish Studies, as well as the published “Index of Wills Proved in the Rochester Consistory Court Wills 1440 – 1561”, ed. Leland Duncan (Kent Records Vol. 9, 1924). Together these cover the following probate courts and dates:

Court Covering Dates Number of Wills Probate Class
Rochester Consistory Court c1440-1857 22,883 DRb
Rochester Archdeaconry Court 1635-1857 4,851 DRa
Peculiar of Cliffe 1671-1843 297 DR/Cp
  Total 28,031  

The Archdeaconry and Consistory Courts of Rochester exercised a co-extensive jurisdiction in 95 parishes within the Diocese of Rochester (west Kent), while the Peculiar of Cliffe covered just that one parish. Records survive for c1440-1857, all of which are included in the current dataset. In most cases you’ll find both an original will and a registered copy, though prior to 1498 only registered copies survive.

The remaining 34 parishes in west Kent fell within the Archbishop's Peculiar of the Deanery of Shoreham, these remain to be added to the National Wills Index.

Each index entry usually contains the following information:

Example
Full name Leonard ANSELL
Occupation Tallow Chandler
Place Dartford, Kent
Year proved 1714
Court Rochester Archdeaconry
1st document Original Will
1st document ref. DRa/Pw 5
2nd document Registered Will
2nd document ref. DRb/Pwr 30.63

The coverage for 1440-1650 is based upon that of Jean Fox (www.vulpeculox.net/history), with her permission.

(c) 2004, 2012 Jean Fox and OMS Services Ltd.

Kent inventories 1571-1842

27,812 surviving paper inventories of Kent testators. It represents the contents of three card indexes formerly housed at the Centre for Kentish Studies, covering the following probate courts and dates:

Court Dates No. of Inventories Class
Diocese of Canterbury, Archdeaconry Court 1571-1842 17,787 PRC 11
Diocese of Canterbury, Consistory Court 1596-1748 7,533 PRC 27
Diocese of Rochester, combined Archdeaconry & Consistory Courts 1687-1784 2,492 DRa/Pi & DRb/Pi
    Total: 27,812  

Each index entry usually contains the following information:

Example
Full name Anthony GREEN
Occupation Weaver
Place Dover, Kent
Year 1732
Court Canterbury Consistory
Doc. Type Inventory
Document Reference PRC27/39/177

Note that there are three further series of inventories at the The Kent History & Library Centre contained in classes PRC 10, PRC 21 and PRC 28. These are contained in registers and cover Canterbury Diocese in the 16th-17th centuries. No finding aid to these currently exists, but they will eventually be added to Origins.net.

Related collections on the National Wills Index

Two volumes of Kent probate indexes are available in the British Record Society Probate Collection 1320-1858:

  • Wills & Administrations at Canterbury 1396-1558 and 1640-50 (BRS vol. 50)
  • Wills & Administrations at Canterbury 1558-1577 (BRS vol. 65)