Delaware Probate Records

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This entry was originally written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG, in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Delaware Family History Research series.
History of Delaware
Delaware Vital Records
Census Records for Delaware
Background Sources for Delaware
Delaware Maps
Delaware Land Records
Delaware Probate Records
Delaware Court Records
Delaware Tax Records
Delaware Cemetery Records
Delaware Church Records
Delaware Military Records
Delaware Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Delaware Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Delaware Immigration
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Map of Delaware


The early probate records for Delaware, from 1676 into the twentieth century, are at the Delaware Public Archives, either in their original form of books and files, or on microfilm, or both. Orphans’ Court records dating from the early 1700s and including useful partitions of land of intestates are found through consolidated card file indexes by county covering estates to 1850. Earlier probate information should be sought in records of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. It should also be pointed out that many early wills pertaining to Delaware residents, while proved, were never recorded. Later records are filed with the appropriate county register of wills. Calendars have been published for the wills of all three counties: Calendar of Kent County Delaware Probate Records, 1680–1800, and Calendar of Sussex County Delaware Probate Records, 1680–1800, both compiled by state archivist Leon de Valinger, Jr. (Dover, Del.: Public Archives Commission, 1944, 1964), and A Calendar of Delaware Wills New Castle County, 1682–1800, by the Historic Research Committee of the Delaware Society of the Colonial Dames of America (1911; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977, and Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 1989). The former two include the volume and page numbers not only for the county record volumes but also for those volumes at the archives into which the early original documents were mounted. The latter work on New Castle County does not include intestate records. Indexes for Kent County probate records (1801–33) appear in three volumes by Mary Marshall Brewer (Lewes, Del.: Delmarva Roots, 2002). Marguerite R. Moore prepared indexes for Sussex County wills (1800–69) in three volumes (Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1995–97). Orphans’ Court records for New Castle County (1742–61) and for Sussex County (1708–09 and 1728–77) are also available in print. The Delaware Public Archives has an online probate database with records up to 1925 at www.state.de.us/sos/dpa/collections/probate.shtml. This database includes some early probates not included in the published calendars listed above.

Ancestry.com has the following Delaware probate and will indexes:

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