How many records does the Hickmore Archive of Civil Probate contain?


The database currently houses details of more than one hundred entries that appear in the Calendar Books for England and Wales.


Is the database searchable by the main beneficiaryís name, the testatorís name, or that of the administrator?


All probate records are identified solely by the testatorís name and therefore searches can only be made for them under that name.


Which Probate Registries are covered?


All of those in England and Wales (including the Principal Probate Registry), together with a small number of others.


What period do the records cover?


As far as England and Wales are concerned, Civil Probate began on 12th January 1858, following an Act of Parliament in the previous year. The Hickmore Archiveís Civil Probate index database contains records from that date onward.


Which surnames are covered by the database?


The database contains entries for grants concerning testators surnamed Hickmore, together with variant or similar-sounding surnames such as Hickmer and Hickmur etc.


Entries for grants concerning testators with other surnames have only been made where the original Will or Administration document mentions one of the above names as that of a beneficiary.


Why was the facility to search by beneficiaryís name not provided?


Although technically possible to provide such a facility from the outset, it was thought that very little benefit would be obtained from doing so. However, if there appears to be sufficient demand for this in future, there is probably no reason why the search engine could not be modified accordingly.


When and by whom were these records obtained for the Archive?


The vast majority of the Hickmore Archiveís Civil Probate document photocopies were obtained by Roy Rayment from the Principal Probate Registry in London during the period 1984 to 1999 inclusive.


Does the Archive have permission from relatives to publish details of the Wills of the recently deceased?


It is a common misconception that the contents of a deceased personís Will is private and confidential. Under English law, the content of a Will is only considered private until it is proved in a Court of Probate. Once proved, the Will automatically becomes a public record, to which the public has a right of access (upon payment of a fee). Since the Archive only holds details of Wills that have already been probated, permission to publish their contents is not required.


How can I find out which of the actual Wills are held by the Archive?


When carrying out a search, simply place a tick in the box that is labelled "Show status of holding" on the search page. This will automatically cause the search results to include information regarding whether or not the Archive holds a copy of the original document and whether or not it has been translated and/or transcribed by the Archivist.


Why do the results of searches not automatically show the values of estates, document reference numbers and status of holdings?


The database has deliberately been designed so as to exclude such information unless the relevant option boxes on the search page are ticked when a search is carried out. Had the system been designed to display all of these items by default, not only would the results page have been very cluttered and difficult to read, but the additional information would have been superfluous in most cases.


Are additional entries made to the database on a regular basis?


Yes. Unlike the Archiveís Ecclesiastical Probate Index, the Archiveís Civil Probate Index is normally updated quarterly.


How can I find out more about Civil Probate in general?


The Federation of Family History Societies published a very useful booklet in 1998, written by Audrey Collins, entitled "Basic Facts About Using Wills after 1858 and First Avenue House". Priced at around £1-50, this is still in print and can be obtained from the Federation Publications department at Bury in Lancashire.


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