Canterbury Probate Records (1396-1858)
- Introduction and general notes
- Archdeaconry court registers PRC17 known problems
- Archdeaconry original/office copy problems
- Archdeaconry court Inventories PRC10
- Archdeaconry court Inventories PRC11
- Consistory court registers PRC32 known problems
- Consistory court original/office copy PRC31 problems
- Consistory court Inventories PRC27 and PRC28
- Place name variations
- Archdeaconry parishes
- Consistory court parishes
- Henry R Plomer Introduction to his index 1396-1558, 1640-1650
Archdeaconry & Consistory courts - probate records Introduction and notes
Copying only permitted for private or academic
Copyright © M J Cozens and D G Cozens (deceased)
Editorial Note (6 July 2020):
The Canterbury Probate Records (1396-1858) Database was compiled by Mike and Dorothy Cozens working mostly from microfilm copies at Canterbury Cathedral Archives, referring to the original manuscripts wherever the films were incomplete or illegible. At the time of the Cozens’ project, the holding of the manuscript probate records (in common with other parts of the Diocese of Canterbury archive) was split between Canterbury Cathedral Archives and the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone. In 2018 the Canterbury Diocese archives remaining at CCA were transferred to the Kent History and Library Centre (successor building to the Centre for Kentish Studies, opened in 2012). The KHLC now therefore holds the entire archive of the Diocese of Canterbury, and along with it the probate records of the Canterbury Consistory and Archdeaconry Courts referred to in this database. It should be noted that the microfilm copies of Canterbury probate records referred to in these notes are still available for consultation at Canterbury Cathedral Archives. For access to these, seehttps://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/heritage/archives-library/visits/
Origin of records
Before the civil probate courts were created in 1858, wills were probated by ecclesiastical courts. In Kent the majority of wills written by testators living east of a line from the Medway to Horsmonden were probated by the Archdeaconry (ADC) and Consistory (CCC) courts of Canterbury.
The wills probated by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) in London originated from the relatively wealthy individuals living mainly in the south of England and most of Wales (originally the ecclesiastical province of Canterbury) and are now held by The National Archives in London. The Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London was the only probate court from 1653 to 1660.
Wills were drawn up by testators or clerks in the parishes and witnessed by local people. When the wills were probated at Canterbury they appear to have been copied with the witnesses signatures or marks being written in the text. Many have survived either as originals or probate office copies in the PRC16 (ADC) & PRC31 (CCC) series. At some point in time the wills were copied again into the register volumes in the PRC17 (ADC) and PRC32 (CCC) series.
Register volumes have folio marked as "missing" on the films, these appear to be errors as the wills are contiguous i.e. folio sequence error. Various Volumes have duplicate folio numbers these are noted in the Cont. column.
English Civil Wars - Probate & Parish records for the period 1640-1660 are limited due to the many factors affecting record keeping during periods of civil conflict. For an introduction to the period try Wikipedia - "The English Civil war". There are very few probate records for 1651-1659 in the Canterbury Diocese archive; with the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury held at the National Archives in London
New year dates
In England before 1752, the Julian Calendar New Year's Day was the 25th March (Lady Day). In 1752 New Year's day was changed to 1st January in the Gregorian Calendar.
In 1914 Henry Plomer indexed all the probate documents up to 1558 in 1914. His work was published in 1920 by Kent Archaeological Society. We are currently rechecking and correcting these records.
The following records in the PRC3 series have improbable references
- John Pawlyn of Rainham PRC/3/5/294 1491
- Thomas Salter of River by Dover PRC/3/5/294 1491
- Robert Tukk (Toke. Took, Tock) of Westcliffe PRC/3/7/38 1533
We have indexed from the following original documents and films:-
- Consistory Court registered wills 1520-1857 and original wills 1559-1857.
- Archdeaconry Court registered 1407-1857 and original wills 1550-1858.
- Consistory court Misc. papers – concerning wills & inventories
- All surviving Consistory Court Inventories 1563-1748
- Archdeaconry Court Inventories originals circa 1590-1640
- Archdeaconry Court Inventories Bound volumes from 1565 - 1626. 60 volumes
Archdeaconry Court registers known problems PRC17
Information missing from films of Vol 1-27 validated at Centre for Kentish Studies [when the documents were held there, pre-2012] by Dr. David Wright from original volumes.
- Volume 1 Folios 1 to 11, 15, poor film - see original
- Volume 420/421and 470/471 not filmed - see original
- Volume 8 Folio 161/162 not filmed
- Volume 10 Folio 190/191 not filmed
- Volume 11 Folio 166/167 not filmed
- Volume 14 Folio 184/185 not filmed
- Volume 15 Folio 186/187 not filmed
- Volume 16 Folio 23/24, 98/99, 134/135, 327/355 not filmed
- Volume 20 Folio 217/218 not filmed
- Volume 21 Folio 276/277 not filmed
- Volume 22 Folio 303/304 not filmed
- Volume 25 Folio 25/26 not filmed
- Volume 27 Back of folio 19/22 not filmed
- Volume 29 Folio 315 not filmed
- Volume 35 Folio 169/170 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 37 Folio 158/159 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 38 Folios badly water stained
- Volume 41 Folio 387/388 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 46 Folio 300/301 partial wills
- Volume 56 Folio 148/149 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 57 Folio 238/239 – indexed from original
- Volume 57 Folios 289/298 numbers not used
- Volume 58 Folios 336/337 not filmed - to be investigated
- Volume 59 Folio 336/337 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 63 Folio 222/224 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 66 Folio 216/217 and 225/229 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 70 Folio 127/128 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 73 Folio 189-200 do not exist
- Volume 74 Folio 332/333 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 77 Folio 331/332 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 78 Folio 258-260 Wills complete but mixed up
- Volume 79 - Film LDS Vol 80 (VLP 660) - indexed as Vol 79 verified in CKS
- Volume 80 - Film LDS Vol 79 (VLP 659) - indexed as Vol 80 verified in CKS
- Volume 82 Folio 380/381 and 533/534 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 83 Quire 11 “Mitchell to Poole”, Folios not filmed
- Volumes 83 to 93 enumerated by Quires
- Volume 84 and 85 not in date sequence
- Volume 85 Quire 1 folio 1 front not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 88 Quire 11 to end - nearly unreadable – ink bled into paper
- Volume 89 Quire 12 some folios out of focus on film
- Volume 92 starts at Quire 57 following on from volume 91 Quire 56
- Volume 95 Folio 244/245 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 95 Folio 547/548 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 98 Folio 423/425 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 100 from folio 213 master film scratched and poor quality
- Volume 101 master film scratched and poor quality
- Volume 111 Folio 568 number not used
- Volume 112 Folio 19/20 not filmed – indexed from original
- Volume 578 & 580 random wills numerically indexed only.
Archdeaconry original/probate office copy problems PRC16
The group letter and number is not an official reference as none exist. It indicates the position of the document on the films at Canterbury Cathedral Archives.
Boxes 1-8 (up to 1549) unreadable film – original wills at KHLC are OK. Some wills are damaged.
A number of letter groups are split between consecutive batches in the years 1640-1650.
- Box 96 (1630 [recte 1591]) ADC original wills are mostly CCC original wills
- Part 1 of Box 288 mis-numbered on film as Box 285
- Box 321 film mis-numbered as Box 325
- Box 347-348 of 1706 mostly Consistory Court register wills
- Box 356 film very dark
- Box 359-360 of 1712 mostly Consistory Court register wills
- Box 381 filmed as 381 for 1723
- Box 382 for 1724 A - H filmed as 383 in error
- Box 383 I - Y part filmed 384 in error
- Box 384 filmed as 384 for 1725
- Box 508 film is A - W not P - W as labeled
- Box 509 film has 3 false headers before correct one
- Box 494 to 523 films very dark
- Box 514 is A - H not A - J as marked
- Box 515 is J - W not H - W as marked
- Box 522 is A - W not A - K as marked
- Box 525 5 wills in group C missing
- Box 526 L - R not filmed, original wills at KHLC indexed
- Box 527 filmed with 526 header
- Box 528 filmed with 526 header
- Box 534 L - R and some S wills not filmed, originals wills at KHLC indexed
- Box 579, 580, 581 Random records filed in numerical order only
Archdeaconry Court Inventories Bound volumes PRC/10
Only an original index (PRC48/4-8) of the original 72 volumes of PRC/10 is available at Canterbury Cathedral Archives– Originals volumes at KHLC [editorial note: the original indexes in PRC48 are all now at the Kent History and Library Centre] Some index volumes span a number of years but do not identify individual entry year – year identified nearest mid point year. When entry matches a will entry, that year is used.
- PRC/10 Volume 1 - 59 included
Archdeaconry Court Inventories originals in boxes PRC/11 Only the early years of this series starting in 1590 are available on film at Canterbury Cathedral Archives.
- Box 1 numbered sequentially as original numbers at the base of the Header are not visible
- Box 1-8 completed. Will numbers at base of outer document spine Consistory Court registers known problems PRC/32
- Volume 1 Early filmed entries unreadable
- Volume 2 Folio 13 Thomas Dense of Brook 1460 Not found
- Volume 3 Folio 70 John Kytebrother 1485 Not Found
- Volume 15 Folio 89/90 not filmed
- Volume 22 Folio 63/64 not filmed
- Volume 27 Page numbers used, i.e. folio numbers increment by two
- Volume 30 Page numbers used, i.e. folio numbers increment by two
- Volume 31 Page numbers up to page 358 then reverted to folio numbers
- Volume 38 Folio 313, 314 & 318 not filmed - indexed from original Volume
- Volume 53 Folio 1 to 236 Film unusable - indexed from original Volume
- Volume 59 Folio 407 to 414 between Folio 422 and 423
- Volume 61 Folio numbers continue from Volume 60 starting at Folio 602
- Volumes 63-72 Ink and photographic quality erratic
Consistory court original/office copy PRC31 problems
- Box 2-8 film header should read 1560 - 1566 not 1600-1606
- Box 96-1630 CCC original wills, most are from the ADC series
- Box 176-1706 CCC original wills, most are from the ADC series
- Box 182-1712 CCC original wills, most are from the ADC series
- Box 238 Letter group R filmed after letter S
- Boxes 316-320 all filmed out of focus at Canterbury Cathedral Archives. KHLC copies ok.
Consistory Court Inventories
No duplication of documents between PRC27 and PRC28 found. No records exist before 1563 or after 1748
Films in the PRC27 series of separate inventories were not filmed in numerical order but in batches according to size, very large inventories were not filmed with the rest. The location of these missing images is not known.
PRC28 inventories are also original inventories tightly bound into volumes. In some cases the text in the gutter is lost
PRC/28 Volume 18 has no visible folio numbers - inventories enumerated as found
Place name variations
Parish names have been updated to existing spellings using Place Names of Kent J.K. Wallenberg, O.S. Maps, http://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research Kent Place names - Frank Bamping 2004
Example of place name changes
- Alington, Allington = may be used for Aldington
- Ashetteforde = Ashford
- Barkeschylde = Bapchild
- Bettresden = Bethersden
- Bewesfield and various spellings = Whitfield
- Chart = Little or Great Chart
- Ewell = Ewell Temple
- Hardres = Upper and Lower Hardres
- Horton = Monks Horton
- Kennerton = Kenardington
- Kingsdown = next Sittingbourne or in Ringwould
- Middleton = Milton
- Milkstreet Cranbrook = Sissinghurst
- Mongeham = Little and Great Mongeham
- Pevington = in Pluckley
- Sellinge or Sellenge = probably Sellindge but could be Selling
- Stelling = Stelling Minnis
- Sibertswold = Shepherdswell
- St. Mary Marge = Early name for Capel le Ferne
- St. Mary Marsh = St. Mary in the Marsh
- Town Sutton = Sutton Valence
Acrise, Alkham, Appledore, Ashford, Badlesmere, Bapchild, Barfrestone, Barham, Bearsted, Bekesbourne, Benenden, Bethersden, Betteshanger, Bicknor, Biddenden, Bilsington, Bishopsbourne, Blackmanstone, Blean, Bobbing, Bonnington, Borden, Boughton aluph, Boughton malherbe, Boughton monchelsea, Boxley, Brabourne, Bredgar, Brenzett, Bridge, Brook, Brookland, Broomfield, Broomhill, Buckland by faversham, Burmarsh, Cant. all saints, Cant. christ church cath, Cant. holy cross, Cant. st alphege, Cant. st andrew, Cant. st dunstan, Cant. st george, Cant. st margaret, Cant. st mary bredin, Cant. st mary bredman, Cant. st mary magdalene, Cant. st mary northgate, Cant. st mildred, Cant. st paul, Cant. st peter, Capel le ferne, Charlton by dover st barts, Charlton by dover st p & p, Chart great, Chart little, Chart sutton, Chartham, Cheriton st martin, Chilham, Chillenden, Chislet, Coldred, Cranbrook, Crundale, Davington, Denton, Doddington, Dymchurch, Eastbridge, Eastchurch, Eastling, Eastwell, Ebony, Elham, Elmley, Elmsted, Elmstone, Ewell temple, Eythorne, Faversham, Folkestone, Fordwich, Frinsted, Frittenden, Goodnestone faversham, Goudhurst, Graveney, Hackington, Halden high, Halstow lower, Ham, Hardres lower, Hardres upper, Harrietsham, Hartlip, Harty, Hastingleigh, Hawkhurst, Hawkinge, Headcorn, Hinxhill, Hope all saints, Hothfield, Hougham, Hurst falconhurst, Hythe west, Iwade, Kenardington, Kennington, Kingsdown, Kingsnorth, Kingston, Knowlton, Langdon east, Langdon west, Langley, Leaveland, Leeds, Lenham, Leysdown, Linton, Littlebourne, Luddenham, Lydden, Lympne, Lynsted, Marden, Mersham, Midley, Milsted, Milton canterbury, Milton sittingbourne, Minster in sheppey, Minster in thanet, Molash, Mongeham great, Mongeham little, Monks horton, Murston, Nackington, Newenden, Newington n hythe, Newington n sitt, Newnham, Northbourne, Norton, Oare, Orgarswick, Orlestone, Ospringe, Otham, Otterden, Oxney dover, Patrixbourne, Petham, Pluckley, Postling, Poulton, Preston n faversham, Preston n wingham, Queenborough, Rainham, Ramsgate st george, Ringwould, Ripple, River, Rodmersham, Rolvenden, Romney old, Ruckinge, Sandhurst, Sandwich st clement, Sandwich st mary, Sandwich st peter, Seasalter, Sellindge, Selling, Sevington, Shadoxhurst, Sheldwich, Shepherdswell silbertswold, Shoulden, Sittingbourne, Smarden, Snargate, Snave, St john in thanet, St laurence in thanet, St mary in marsh, St peters in thanet, Stalisfield, Staplehurst, Stelling minnis, Stockbury, Stodmarsh, Stone, Stone in oxney, Stoner, Stourmouth, Stowting, Sturry, Sutton by dover, Sutton east, Sutton valance, Swalecliffe, Swingfield, Tenterden, Teynham, Thanington, Throwley, Thurnham, Tilmanstone, Tonge, Tunstall, Ulcombe, Upchurch, Waldershare, Walmer st mary, Waltham, Warden, Warehorne, Westbere, Westcliffe, Whitfield, Whitstable, Wickhambreaux, Willesborough, Woodnesborough, Wootton, Wormshill, Wychling, Wye
Consistory Court Parishes
Acol, Adisham, Aldington, Ash, Birchington, Boughton u blean, Bredhurst, Buckland, Cant. st martin, Challock, Charing, Deal st george, Deal st leonards, Detling, Dover st james, Dover st mary, Dover st mary in castle, Dover st peter (demolished 1581) eastry, Edgerton, Fairfield, Godmersham, Goodnestone wingham, Guston, Harbledown, Herne, Hernhill, Hoath, Hollingbourne, Hucking, Hythe st leonard, Ickham, Ivychurch, Loose, Lydd, Lyminge, Maidstone, Monkton, Newchurch, Nonington, Paddlesworth, Reculver, Romney new, Saltwood, Sare, Smeeth, St margaret at cliffe, St nicholas at wade, Stanford, Staple, Westwell, Wingham, Wittersham, Womenswold, Woodchurch, Worth
Henry R Plomer - Introduction
WHEN I went down to Canterbury to compile this Index, in the spring of 1914, I little thought that within six months this country would be involved in the most destructive war in the history of the world. Yet such proved to be the case, and its effect upon this work was immediate. In order to lessen expense it was decided to make the accession of Elizabeth the stopping point; but this was the least of the evils that the War brought in its train. Printing became a slow and costly matter. Meanwhile I had been compelled to leave Canterbury for other fields of work, and proof-reading and correction had to be done without any opportunity of referring to the registers and act books, except by Correspondence. It also had to be done when and how it could, often after a long day's work, when brain and eyes were both weary. Chief amongst the" casualties" of that time was the omission of a bundle of slips under the letter H, which did not turn up until the whole of that letter had been printed off. When or where this happened it is idle to speculate: the slips when they turned up had to be relegated to the Addenda; and to crown all, the Introduction for the volume, originally written in Canterbury from notes made in the course of the work, is "missing", and I am now called upon to write another with the printer waiting, so to speak, on the doorstep.
Yet after all, considering the troublous years through which the work has passed, its final completion is a subject for very sincere congratulation all round. Everyone connected with the work did his "bit". Mutual help was the order of the day, and in this spirit I am knocking up another Introduction Without any of my original notes to help me, and in this spirit I am quite sure it will be received.
First of all I must point out that the covering dates, 1396 - 1558, are slightly misleading, as the will of John Reade, of Deal, was proved in 1365 [C. 1. 1.], but to all intents and purposes the period covered by the bulk of the wills is the one adopted.
The question has often been asked how it comes about that the wills proved at Canterbury so greatly exceed those in any other registry; but no satisfactory answer is forthcoming, nor is there any explanation of the circumstance of wills relating to the same place being sometimes proved in the Archdeaconry and sometimes in the Consistory Court.
Two interesting discoveries were made in the course of the work. The first was that the register known as "Wingham" was wrongly placed in the Manuscript Calendar at the Probate Office, after those of 1570, whereas it contained a number of fifteenth century wills. Wingham was one of the peculiars of the Archbishop, and the register in question covers the parishes of Goodnestone, Ash next Sandwich, and Nonington, as well as the place from which it derives its name.
The second "find" was that of a number of Office copies of wills, tied up in bundles, in a corner of the strong room. In some cases these had not been entered in the registers, while in others they differed in the wording from the copy in the register, although there is little doubt that the procedure usually followed was to enter the will in the register from the Office copy, as it was customary to hand the original will back to the executors. These Office copies were arranged and numbered and have been included amongst the references in this volume.
In going through the Act Books many unfinished entries relating to wills were noticed. They appeared to be in the nature of memoranda, and generally consisted of the name of the testator and of the executor or executors. Possibly the wills were never proved or for some reason were not admitted, hence the unfinished entry; but I thought it right that they should go into the Index, as the information they give might furnish the genealogist with a long-wanted clue.
A Calendar of the Wills and Administrations at Canterbury, 1640- 1650, hitherto un- indexed, even in MS., having also been compiled, it was decided to print it at the end of the present volume, as its bulk scarcely justified its occupation of a volume to itself, and many years are likely to elapse ere that period is reached were it reserved for printing in its proper chronological position. . An Introduction to that portion will be found to preface it.
Many other points of interest in the Index deserve notice, such as the variation in the names of persons and places; but the printer waits and I must pass on to my final duty, which is to return thanks to a host of friends and helpers.
The thanks of the subscribers are due to Mr. Mapleton Chapman for giving facilities for the work to be carried to completion. To the staff of the Probate Registry my warmest thanks are accorded for their unvarying consideration; particularly to Mr. E. W. Carver, who took great interest in the work, and who assisted in the sorting and numeration of the Office copies and also in the sorting of the slips of the Calendar; to Mr. Arthur Hussey for valuable suggestions and help in the progress of the work. Especial thanks are also due from the subscribers to Mrs. Bartlett (nee French), of Boston, U.S.A., who during a visit to Canterbury discovered a missing Act Book of the Archdeaconry Court, shown in the Index as A. Act, 5a, and covering the period from 1524 to 1530, and to Mr. Fielding, the Archbishop's Registry, for handing it over to the Probate Registry. Last, but by no means least, the thanks of all connected with the work are due to Mr. T. M. Blagg, who, while serving his country, found time to see this bulky volume through the press, :and whose forbearance towards myself, in the matter of proof-correcting, is here gratefully acknowledged.
Before laying down my pen I should like to make an earnest appeal to the Kent Archaeological and the British Record Societies to see what can be done for the repair of the records kept in the strong room at the Probate Office in Canterbury. That they are kept dry and fireproof is much to be thankful for; but they did not always have so secure a resting-place, and time has been merciless in his treatment of them. Many of the early registers are in a deplorable condition, their covers either gone entirely or going; their sections loose, their leaves dogs-eared and in the case of some of the paper ones so fragile that they have to be handled with the utmost care. The longer they are left unattended to the worse they will become, and we owe it to those who come after us to see that they are kept in good condition.
HENRY R. PLOMER.
October 8, 1920.
Part II Wills and Administrations at Canterbury 1640 to 1650
Several years ago a number of Wills, covering the period from 1640 to 1650, which had never been registered, were discovered in the strong room of the Probate Registry at Canterbury. The only person, outside the officials of the Registry, who knew of their existence, was the late Mr. Lothrop Withington, the well-known American genealogist, who happened to be working there at the time. He decided to make a calendar of them. This he had begun, but, as the documents show, had not dealt with more than half of them at the time of his tragic death, while returning from a visit to America on board the Lusitania.
Upon the news of his death, Mr. Eustace W. Carver, one of the clerks at the Probate Registry, who had been accustomed to help Mr. Withington in the examination of the Wills after office hours, mentioned the matter to me, and suggested that together we carry out the object which Mr. Withington had in view. Mr Carver believes that Mr Withington was in the habit of carrying the notes he had made about with him and that they are now at the bottom of the Atlantic; at any rate, they were beyond our reach and it was necessary to make fresh start.
Our task is now completed, the whole of the work having been done after official hours. Every will has been examined and given a special number, those of the Archdeaconry being preceded by the letter A and those of the Consistory by the letter C. Where it was found that a Will had been registered, the reference to the register has been added in brackets; thus A1380 (70-145) shows that the Will is registered in the Archdeaconry Register 70 folio 145
With the Wills were frequently found other documents such as attestations, sentences, and inventories, and these have been duly noted in the Calendar.
Finally, in order to bring this Calendar into line with that for the period 1396-1558, now printed, the Administrations have been added for the same period.
About 3,300 Wills and Administrations are included in this Calendar, which with those included in “Abstracts of Probate Acts in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury” edited by J. and G. F. Matthews, forms a complete record of the Wills of East Kent folk for the period 1640-50
Our warmest Thanks are due to Mr. Mapleton Chapman for facilities given in doing this work, which through the generosity of Mr. Leland L. Duncan has been made available for printingHENRY R PLOMER