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North East Inheritance database (pre-1858 Durham Probate Records)

Ordering copies of probate documents

Digital images of most of the Durham Probate Records have been made available online by the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), and linked into our catalogue entries. See separate online images page. These images provide the easiest (and cheapest) method for you to obtain copies of most pre-1858 probate records.

However, until we have finished checking the image data that is available, we are still able to provide photocopies of probate documents, subject to the condition of the originals and levels of demand. If you want to order photocopies, please follow the procedure set out below.

  1. Carry out a search of the online database (or revisit one of your recent previous searches if wanted).
  2. Download a copy of our probate documents photocopying order form, available in either WORD format or PDF format.
  3. Print out and complete the form (both sides), remembering to sign the copyright declaration on the back.
  4. When completing the form, you should include the document reference for each item or folder that you want copied (see notes below on how to interpret the document references in the catalogue). Please also include the name of the deceased person concerned as a cross-check.
  5. Post or fax it to the address/number below. Alternatively, the form can be scanned and emailed to us, but please ensure that you have signed it first and email us a scan of both sides.
  6. The cost of probate photocopying is given below, but please send no money at this stage. Some documents may be too large or fragile to be copied.
  7. We will normally photocopy probate records within one month of the receipt of your order. However, this work may have to be delayed if we receive large numbers of requests or at busy periods, so that we can continue to support our other users of the archives and special collections.
  8. When the work is completed, we will contact you with the final cost of the photocopying and give details of payment methods.
  9. Once payment is received, the photocopies will be posted to you.
Email family dot records at durham dot ac dot uk
Telephone 0191 334 2972 (international +44 1913342972)
Address Durham University Library
Palace Green
DURHAM
DH1 3RN

Interpreting probate document references in the catalogue

The catalogue lists every probate document that survives within our core series for each deceased person: see the introductory page for details of the records included. Each of these documents includes a reference, beginning 'DPR/I/'. These notes and the example below explain what you should put on the photocopying form when ordering copies. The series are as follows:

DPR/I/1 (original wills and inventories etc)
These references consist of a year, followed by a folder reference (initial A-Z and a number, for instance B4 or S12), followed by an individual piece reference (such as /1, or /2-4 to indicate 3 pieces). For ordering copies of these documents, you should ignore these piece references on the photocopying order form, and we will copy the full folder for you (subject to any fragile or sealed documents).
DPR/I/2 (registered copies of wills)
These cannot be photocopied (see note within table of costs below).
DPR/I/3 (probate bonds)
These are generally individual bonds (and some other documents), not stored within folders. You should quote the full reference for each document that you want photocopied. Note however that most bonds (particularly 'will bonds') are unlikely to contain additional useful information for family history purposes, so you will probably not want to order copies of these documents. And see notes on the images page regarding the earliest bonds.
DPR/I/6 (Dean and Chapter Allertonshire probate records)
These relate to the cathedral's jurisdiction over certain parishes in North Yorkshire (see our page on probate jurisdictions for further explanation). They are referenced with a year and folder reference as for the DPR/I/1 series, but in addition there are two subseries. DPR/I/6/T is used for the main series of wills and associated documents, and DPR/I/6/B for administration bonds (including inventories etc where these survive). You should specify the full reference for the folder(s) you are interested in, as for DPR/I/1 omitting any final piece references.

An example of a probate catalogue record

Here is an imaginary example of two probate records, as reported by a search of the database:

Henry SADLER, farmer, of Earsdon in the chapelry of Hebron in the county of Northumberland [Earsdon, Northumberland]

Date of probate: 27.1.1836

  • will, 27.1.1830 (DPR/I/1/1836/S1/3-4)
  • renunciation, 29.12.1835 (DPR/I/1/1836/S1/1-2)
  • registered copy of will, 27.1.1830 (DPR/I/2/46 p761-762)
  • will bond, penal sum £600, 27.1.1836 (DPR/I/3/1836/T3)
    granted to Margaret Sadler, widow and universal legatee during her widowhood. The executors William Hume and John Sadler having renounced.

Cuthbert SURBUTT, yeoman, of Northallerton in the county of York [Northallerton, Yorkshire]

Date of probate: 5.8.1702

  • will, 19.6.1702 (DPR/I/6/T/1702/S1/1-2)
  • inventory, actual total £17 13s 4d, 4.8.1702 (DPR/I/6/T/1702/S1/3)
  • will bond, penal sum £40, 5.8.1702 (DPR/I/6/T/1702/S1/4)

To order copies of the above probate documents, you would specify the following on the photocopying order form:

  • DPR/I/1/1836/S1 (Henry Sadler)
  • DPR/I/3/1836/T3 (Henry Sadler)
  • DPR/I/6/T/1702/S1 (Cuthbert Surbutt)

Note that the registered copy (DPR/I/2/46 p761-762) cannot be photocopied, and you would probably want to omit Henry Sadler's will bond (DPR/I/3/1836/T3) as the main information within it has been noted within the listing. Each of the above would cost £5 to photocopy.

Probate photocopying costs

These are the current costs as at November 2010. Note that there is a minimum charge of £10 per order. Postage is not charged for UK orders, but will be added separately for overseas orders. These prices include VAT for those subject to it.

Each folder in the DPR/I/1 series (original wills, inventories and related documents): £5 (for all the documents within a single folder)
Registered copies of wills (and some inventories) within the DPR/I/2 series: These cannot be photocopied, because this would damage the bindings of the registers. They were photographed by the GSU, so digital images will ultimately be available online (see above).
Each bond in the DPR/I/3 series (original executors' and administration bonds, sometimes with other bonds and related documents): £5 (1695 to 1858);
the pre-1695 bonds cannot be photocopied and were not digitised by the GSU (see images page)
Each folder in the DPR/I/6 series (Dean and Chapter Allertonshire peculiar wills, bonds etc): £5 (for all the documents within a single folder)