Catalogue description Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Original Calendars and Indexes of Wills and Administration Grants

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Details of PROB 15
Reference: PROB 15
Title: Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Original Calendars and Indexes of Wills and Administration Grants

This catalogue consists of several series of original indexes known as calendars. Some of the calendars were original records maintained by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury of grants of probate and administration as they were issued. Others are transcripts of such calendars produced for use by searchers.

For many years of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury's existence the indexes have been superseded by superior modern indexes.

The earliest stage in the compilation of the calendars appears to have been at the time of the grant of probate or administration when the name of the testator or intestate was written down in a bound volume of paper pages. The court needed an immediate and accessible record of the issue of the grant of probate or administration, particularly to enable its officials to prevent the issue of more than one grant upon the same estate to separate applicants.

No calendar covers a year earlier than 1655.

Date: 1655-1858

The majority of the indexes or calendars cover a single year, and they list the names of the testators and intestates of whose estates grants of probate and administration were made in that year.

Each page of the bound volumes of paper pages with the names of the testator or intestates written down on them were divided into two columns, and the names of testators were written in the left hand column and the names of intestates in the right hand column.

The principal value of the calendars in this series is that, in common with the calendars in PROB 13, they can be used to supply defects in the PROB 12 calendars.

The calendars in PROB 15 are listed in several series. As a general rule series I (PROB 15/1-70B) and series II (PROB 15/71-143) contain transcripts engrossed on parchment for general reference, while series III (PROB 15/144-342), series IV (PROB 15/343-380), and series V (PROB 15/381-394) contain the original working calendars of the Court compiled contemporaneously with the issue of grants of probate and administration. Series IV (PROB 15/343-380) contains what were originally known as green calendar (for soldiers and sailors), from the colour of their bindings.

In the nineteenth century the Prerogative Court of Canterbury maintained separate calendars, bound in green, for soldiers, seamen, warrant and petty officers, including East India Company soldiers and sailors, and merchant seamen. The names of testators and intestates belonging to these occupational groups were not generally included in what were called the general calendars. The surviving nineteenth century original general calendars are in other series III and V in PROB 15.

Commissioned officers are included in the general calendars, but the names of some soldiers and seamen who were not officers also appear in the general calendars, or in both the general calendars and the corresponding green calendars. Cross references between the two types of calendar are frequently supplied.

A separate series of commission books, also bound in green, was maintained for those testators and intestates who were entered in the green calendars.

Related material:

Wills commissions and requisitions are in PROB 52

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 398 volume(s)
Physical condition: Parchment
Publication note:

It is possible that some pieces in PROB 15 were used by the Society of Genealogists to compile its publication An index to wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1750-1800 ed. by Anthony J Camp (London, 1976-1992, 6 vols)

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