Discover if your ancestors left a will in Hertfordshire, England between 1415 and 1858. The records may reveal your relative’s name and the year of probate, the court and further information about the document.
Each record comprises a transcript of the original index. The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
Document information (type, reference and additional details)
Ordering original documents
You can order digital copies of these documents from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS), which will be delivered by email. Each document costs £10. To order documents, contact:
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS)
Address: County Hall, Hertford, SG13 8EJ
Phone: 0300 123 4049
Fax: 01992 555113
This index includes all the wills (both original and registered copies), inventories, administration bonds, accounts and other related documents, which survive among the records of the Archdeaconries of Huntingdon (Hitchin Division) and St Albans currently held at HALS. Coverage contains:
Archdeaconry of Huntingdon (Hitchin Division):
Original wills (as well as some inventories), 1557-1857 (Ref, HW)
Will registers, 1557-1843 (Ref, HR); inventories, 1568-1789 (Ref, AHH22 includes some administration bonds)
Administration bonds and accounts, 1609-1857 (Ref, AHH23).
Archdeaconry of St Albans:
Original wills, including administration bonds and inventories filed with them, 1518-1857 (Ref, AW)
Will registers, also including grants of administration, 1415-1857 (Ref, AR)
Inventories, 1518-1764 (Ref, A25)
No original probate accounts are known to have survived for this archdeaconry.
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions in Hertfordshire
Until 1877, when the diocese of St Albans was created, Hertfordshire was split between two large and powerful dioceses, London and Lincoln, and three different archdeaconries.
The medieval Diocese of Lincoln contained nine counties: Lincoln, Leicester, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and most of Hertfordshire. Only the 35 Hertfordshire parishes east of an approximate north to south line from Royston to Cheshunt weren’t included, being part of the Diocese of London.
Even within the Hertfordshire parishes of the Diocese of London, there were three different ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Twenty six parishes comprised part of the Essex and Herts division of the Archdeaconry of Middlesex. In addition there were two jurisdictions, which kept considerable independence from the Bishop of London's control, known as 'peculiars'. Albury, Brent Pelham and Furneux Pelham made up part of the peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of St Pauls Cathedral, which also included parishes in the City of London, Middlesex and Essex. Another six parishes (Bishop’s Stortford, Broxbourne, Much Hadham, Little Hadham, Little Hormead and Royston) came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London's Deputy, or Commissary. Furthermore, the Consistory Court of the Bishop of London would replace the lower courts when they were temporarily suspended, for example during the bishop's visitation. This would take place over a period of three months every four years. As a result there is a small number of Hertfordshire wills amongst the records of the London Consistory Court.
The rest of the county was divided between the two Archdeaconries of Huntingdon (Hitchin Division) and St Albans within the Diocese of Lincoln. 76 parishes in the centre and the west made up the Hitchin division of the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon. The Archdeaconry of St Albans contained 26 parishes: St Andrew (later the Abbey), St Michael, St Peter and St Stephen, within the town of St Albans; Chipping Barnet, East Barnet, Bushey, Codicote, Elstree, Hexton, Abbots Langley, Newnham, Northaw, Norton, Redbourn, Rickmansworth, Ridge, Sandridge, Sarratt, Shephall, St Paul’s Walden and Watford in Hertfordshire; and the Buckinghamshire parishes of Aston Abbots, Grandborough, Little Horwood and Winslow. This situation didn’t change until a Statute of 1540, which gave episcopal rights over former exempt jurisdictions back to the diocesan bishops. By letters patent of 1 April 1550 the Archdeaconry of St Albans was formally returned to the Diocese of London.
Rationalisation of this complex situation took place in 1845, when the Archdeaconry of St Albans was reconstructed to include the entire county, taking over the Hertfordshire parishes of the Archdeaconries of Huntingdon and Middlesex. This new archdeaconry was given to the diocese of Rochester. The four Buckinghamshire parishes were transferred to the diocese of Oxford at this time. A diocese of St Albans was finally established in 1877 to cover not just Hertfordshire, but large parts of Essex and the part of Kent situated north of the Thames. In 1914, when the diocese of Chelmsford was created, the Essex and Kent parishes were removed to that diocese and the Archdeaconry of Bedford was annexed from the diocese of Ely, thus forming the modern diocese of St Albans comprising all of the counties of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Only minor alterations have occurred since 1914. In 1984 the Middlesex parishes of St Giles, South Mymms and Potters Bar were moved to the diocese of St Albans. In addition the Archdeaconry of St Albans was divided in 1997 on the formation of the new Archdeaconry of Hertford.
Hertfordshire is one of the English home counties (counties that surround London). It’s bordered by Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire and Greater London, and its county town is Hertford. Hertfordshire lies immediately north of Greater London, and a large part of the county is part of the London commuter belt. It’s among the wealthiest counties in Britain today.