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Probate Court Records (Wills)

Probate Court records consist of wills, codicils or additions to wills, petitions for the probate of a will, letters testamentary granted by the court to the executors appointed to carry out the wishes expressed in a will, petitions for letters of administration if there was no will, and letters of administration granted to court appointed administrators when no will was found. 

Probate records can be used to establish relationships among family members.  Wills usually list only the living children.  A child may be omitted from the will if a previous settlement, perhaps a conveyance of land, had already taken place.  The names of the married daughters and spouses are provided in many wills.  There may be inventories of personal effects, affidavits, notices to creditors, data pertaining to sales of property, and the final accounts of the settlement of an estate.  Probate records can often supply the signature of an ancestor; inventories that list personal belongings and clues to the position and wealth of an ancestor.

The Lieutenant Governor appointed officials in each county to keep probate records.  Wills and other probate records are important in that they fix the time of death of an ancestor, provide data on the estate, and assist in the reconstruction of families.  Wills can distribute property among family members, friends, organizations or institutions.  Since probate records involve the rights of inheritance, the relationships disclosed in these records are considered to be accurate.

The older probate records, both files and record books, are found at the PANB.  The probate files to 1930 have been microfilmed and are made available on interlibrary loan; an index is found on reel F10958.  The public service staff will search the files from 1930 to the present and will photocopy a specific will for a nominal fee.

In addition to the Probate Court records for each of the fifteen counties, a number of wills are filed in the County Registry Offices and in private sector records, especially in the collections of lawyers

 

At the PANB family historians might also like to check:

RS575  Records of the Administration of the Estates of Deceased Insolvent Debtors contain copies of wills and other estate related material

RS13  Records of the Provincial Secretary contain copies of wills and other estate related material

MC291  Young Family Papers contain copies of wills

MC300  York Sunbury Historical Society Collection contain copies of wills

MC509  E. Allison McKay Papers contain copies of wills

MC80/828  Early New Brunswick Probate Records 1785-1835 by Wallace Hale provides abstracts of early wills

Subject Guide to Microfilm under heading Estates.