Staplehurst Wills Proved

                       in the Archdeaconry Court of Canterbury


  Index of Wills Registered 1449 - 1858   
  Index of Original Wills 1449 - 1858  
  Index of Inventories 1564 - 1770  







Where a will was proved was broadly determined by the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Staplehurst lies within the Deanery of Sutton which is part of the Diocese of Canterbury. Therefore, most wills were proved by the Archdeaconry Court of Canterbury before 1858.


When probate was granted, the executor paid a fee to have the will copied into the register. These books of registered wills are held in Maidstone under the catalogue reference of PRC/17. The date listed is a range of years. The probate year of the will falls within this range.

Not all wills were registered, hence we have the index of original wills which are not registered which are contained in file PRC/16 at Maidstone. These record the year of probate which in some instances can vary from the year of death where probate has been delayed.

The wills indexed here are for those people who lived in Staplehurst which are held in the two main catalogue references of PRC/16 and PRC/17. There are several more catalogues of wills which are not indexed and have not been included.

Inventories are a list of deceased's personal estate with estimated value. These were comparatively common in the 16th and 17th century and hold a wealth of information about the contents of an individual's home. They became less detailed and frequent in the 18th century. These are held at Maidstone in the catalogue reference PRC/10 for registered inventories and PRC/11 for the non registered.


There are many books which explain the probate process and understanding wills. Some suggestions are:

‘Wills before 1858’, by Eve McLaughlin

‘Wills, Probate & Death Duty Records, An Introduction to’ , by Jane Cox

‘Kent Probate Records, A Catalogue and Practical Guide’ by David Wright

‘Probate Jurisdictions: Where to Look for Wills’ by Jeremy Gibson

Where to Get Copies of the Wills

The wills, inventories and accounts included in these indexes are held at Maidstone in the Kent History and Library Centre. They can be viewed on film and prints taken. Some of the films are of poor quality while others are excellent. I have always found the staff there exceptionally helpful

Copies of the film are also held at the Canterbury Archives and at the Society of Genealogist. The Family History Library of the IGI also has copies of these films and you should be able to view these at your local Family History Centre.
There are also possibilities of finding some of these wills online. The Kent Archaeology Society web site has transcriptions of some Medieval and Tudor wills online including 16 for Staplehurst. These are particularly useful as these very early wills were often in Latin.