Source Information

Ancestry.com. Norfolk, England, Indexes to Wills, Probate, Administrations and Marriage Licence Bonds, 1371-1858 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2023.
Original data: Norfolk Indexes to Wills, Marriage Bonds, Administrations, Probate. Norfolk, England: Norfolk Record Office.

About Norfolk, England, Indexes to Wills, Probate, Administrations and Marriage Licence Bonds, 1371-1858

General collection information

This collection contains an index of wills, probate records, marriage bonds, and administrations from the historic county of Norfolk, England. The indexed records include wills, letters of administration, and probate inventories that were heard by Norfolk church courts from the 14th century to 1858.

Some early wills may be in Latin or Norman French. While most were written in English by the mid-16th century, notations concerning approval of the will were usually in Latin until 1733 and most administration bonds were also in Latin until 1733.

Using this collection

Records in this collection may include the following information:

  • Name
  • Residence place
  • Probate date
  • Will date
  • Marriage date and place
  • Date of death
  • Spouse's name
  • Names of other relatives
  • Name of court or church
  • Ages of parties to be married
  • Wills and probate records can provide information about an ancestor's family and friends, land ownership, and personal property. Historically, property descended to the eldest son, so a will was likely drafted only when special bequests were made to others. Wills for married women were rare until the 20th century, as women were prohibited from owning property until 1882.

    Each index entry provides a link to the original repository and instructions for ordering copies of the original records can be found by following the link.

    Collection in context

    Until 1858, church courts were responsible for proving wills and granting letters of administration, which are used to prove authority regarding the deceased's estate. Since then, wills have been administered by civil probate courts.

    Before the mid-19th century, most marriages took place after an announcement was read three times in church, a process known as banns. By at least 1533, however, some marriages were authorised by licence, without reading of marriage banns.

    In those cases, a marriage licence bond was typically required, where a bondsman agreed to forfeit a sum of money if the marriage did not take place.

    Bibliography

    Cannon, J. A. "Norfolk." The Oxford Companion to British History. Last modified18 May, 2018. https://www.encyclopedia.com/places/britain-ireland-france-and-low-countries/british-and-irish-political-geography/norfolk.

    Cranmer, Frank. "Banns of marriage – their development and future." Last modified 8 December, 2018. https://lawandreligionuk.com/2018/12/08/banns-of-marriage-their-development-and-future-2/.

    Norfolk Record Office. "A brief history of the City of Norwich." Accessed 3 September, 2023. https://www.archives.norfolk.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/local-history/a-brief-history-of-the-city-of-norwich.