Catalogue description Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Administration Act Books

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Details of PROB 6
Reference: PROB 6
Title: Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Administration Act Books

Administration act books of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) and related jurisdictions from 1559 to the abolition of the court in 1858. The administration act books contain the PCC's own records of the letters of administration issued under the seal of the court. Letters of administration were issued to persons who had a claim on the estates of intestates to enable them to administer and distribute the estates.

References to later grants of administration on the same estates were added to the administration act books after the abolition of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1858.

As a result of the civil war and the abolition of the episcopacy during the mid seventeenth century probate jurisdiction was subject to considerable disruption and this disruption is reflected in the surviving administration act books for the mid seventeenth century.

Date: 1559-1858

Some of the published indexes supply folio references to the act books and these references relate to the handwritten numbers in the volumes, and not to the stamped typographical numbers. If a folio number is not supplied for grants of administration made before 1719 it is necessary to ascertain the month of the grant from the index and then search through the relevant monthly section of the act book. (From 1660 to 1718 the administration act books (PROB 6/36-94) are organised into monthly sections and then subdivided into different seats. The basis of this organisation of business at this date is not known, and differs from the system formally introduced in 1719. For grants made after 1719 it is necessary to understand the seat system that was used by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

There is no act book extant for 1662, although contemporary calendars of administration acts for this year are available (PROB 12/39, PROB 13/96-97, PROB 15/72) (This act book was noted as wanting in General report to the king in council from the honourable Board of Commissioners on the Public Records Sessional Papers, House of Commons, 1837, 257).

For the years 1653 to 1654 a number of administration acts for these years have not survived.

The surviving administration act books for the years 1653 to 1654 (PROB 6/28-30) concerned have various different foliation systems owing to the fact that they are not original seventeenth century volumes, but consist of different gatherings bound together at a much later date. The different gatherings relate to different counties or other geographical areas.

After 1809 limited and special grants of administration ceased to be recorded in the administration act books in PROB 6. Instead they were recorded in a separate series of act books which now comprise the series PROB 7. The term entered at length alongside the name of an intestate in an administration act book for the years 1810 to 1858 (PROB 6/186-233) is a cross reference to the relevant act book in PROB 7

Most acts are recorded in summary form, the entries giving the date of the grant, the name and place of residence on the intestate, and the name of the administrator and his or her relationship to the intestate. Administration grants limited to a particular part of an intestate's estate are entered in full.

Except for the period 1651 to 1660 the act books are in Latin until 1733. From 1651 to 1660, and after 25 March 1733, the act books are in English, although certain technical phrases and abbreviations continued to be used in Latin.

Related material:

Related records on the disposal of estates can be found in

TS 17

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Copies held at:

Microfilm copy available at The National Archives

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 234 volume(s)
Access conditions: Available in microform only
Immediate source of acquisition:

in 1970 Supreme Court of Judicature

Custodial history: After the abolition of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1858, the administration act books were transferred to the custody of the registry of the Court of Probate, and then, in 1874, to the Principal Probate Registry of the High Court of Justice.
Publication note:

Indexes to Administrations There is no single union index to Prerogative Court of Canterbury grants of administration, and there is no single series of indexes compiled on uniform principles. Instead there are a wide variety of different personal name indexes. The majority of them were compiled before the administration act books that they index were transferred to the PRO. Almost all of these personal name indexes are of two broad types, though there is some variety within those types: Indexes compiled from the calendars (rather than the original act books) share many of the omissions and errors of the calendars on which they are based, and sometimes follow many of the conventions of the originals. Modern indexes to PROB 6 have been, or are being, published by the British Record Society and by the Friends of the PRO and by others.

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