This series contains the vast majority of registered wills proved before the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and other jurisdictions that exercised probate jurisdiction in the place of the Court, the most important of which was the Court for Probate of Wills and Granting of Administrations which exercised sole probate jurisdiction in England and Wales from 1653 to 1659.
The earliest registers in the series were constituted at a latter date and contain the texts of wills proved before the archbishop of Canterbury or his officials before the Prerogative Court of Canterbury came into existence. These registers also contain extraneous membranes from the main archiepiscopal registers.
Sentences in causes heard by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and related jurisdictions, if registered, were also registered in this series until some time in the latter part of the eighteenth century.
English is the predominant language for the documents in this series. The usage of Latin (and to a lesser extent Norman French) quickly declined after the early wills. By the sixteenth century Latin was no longer being used. However the probate clauses at the end of each will remained in Latin up to 1733, apart from a short period in the seventeenth century. There are also wills in many other languages, especially Dutch, right up to the end of the series in 1858. However for these wills there should be an English translation next to the foreign original.
Digital copies of Wills 1384-1858 can be searched and downloaded.