WFHC indexes of the wills and administrations of WHITEHOUSE deceased from 1601 to 1960


LINKS (all files are in MS Excel or Word)


PROB GRANTS 1601-1730 210313.xls is a sortable index of the grants of probate and letters of administration for Whitehouse deceased in the major courts relevant to the West Midlands, namely Lichfield Consistory and Peculiars, Sedgley Manorial Court, Worcester Consistory Court and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.   There is also one Yorkshire entry.  The index contains the name, abode and occupation of the deceased, date of will, date of death and marital status of the deceased.

File size: 75 kB; 91 rows of entry.


PROB PEOPLE 1601-1730 180312.xls is a sortable index of all people (whether or not a Whitehouse) mentioned identifiably in the wills and grant documents available for the above grants.  The details of the deceased Whitehouse are repeated for each entry.  The relationship (where known) of the people mentioned to the deceased is given.  This is an index constructed laboriously by extraction of details from the documents or abstracts thereof and is not available in any official form.

File size: 179kB; 672 rows of entry.


PROB GRANTS 1731-1860 210313.xls is a sortable index of the grants of probate and letters of administration for Whitehouse deceased in the courts of England and Wales of significant interest for Whitehouse research.  It contains the name, abode and occupation of the deceased, date of will, date of death, marital status of the deceased, Record Office and National Archives references where appropriate and the file numbers of WFHC correspondents.  This is an enhanced index containing more information than is available from official indexes.  Coverage is from 1731 up to the end of the ecclesiastical court probate jurisdiction in January 1858 and continuing thereafter to the end of 1860.

File size:  143kB; 501 rows of entry.


PROB PEOPLE 1731-1860 180312.xls is a sortable index of all people (whether or not a Whitehouse) mentioned identifiably in the wills and grant documents available for all the above grants.  The details of the deceased Whitehouse are repeated for each entry.  The relationship (where known) of the people mentioned to the deceased is given.  This is an index constructed laboriously by extraction of details from the documents and is not available in any official form.

File size: 929 kB; 4754 rows of entry.


PROB EDO 1796-1857 180312.xls is a sortable index of those grants of probate and letters of administration for Whitehouse deceased that appear in the National Archives' Estate Duty Office indexes.  This WFHC index has been enhanced to make it more user-friendly than the official indexes.  It consolidates the IR26 and IR 27 indexes to the registers, includes the deceased's address taken from the registers and uses the same database reference as the two indexes mentioned above, so that cross-reference is easy.

File size:  65 kB; 241 rows of entry.


PROB GRANTS 1858-1967 210313.xls is a sortable index of the grants of probate and letters of administration of Whitehouse deceased compiled from the official indexes of the Principal Probate Registry, for many years located at Somerset House in London, subsequently at First Avenue House, High Holborn, London.  The latter search room closed in December 2014.  Copies of the official indexes are now available only on-line, at https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate and for 1858 to 1966 from "Ancestry".  In the WFHC version, on an Excel spreadsheet, the first three years of grants overlap with the 1731-1860 index and it continues to the end of 1967 (date of grant).  The WFHC version is enhanced by quoting the General Register Office (England & Wales) death index reference that appears to fit each entry and a column calculating the year of birth from the age at death. These features are unique to the WFHC and invaluable for finding the right Whitehouse.  It has also been annotated with many of the references of WFHC correspondents. 

File size:1.45 MB; 4398 rows of entry containing 3272 grants.  It can be printed in landscape A4 at 267 pages.


PROB GRANTS KEY 190402.xls is an index of the symbols and terms used in the above indexes.  However, it does NOT include the three-letter Chapman County Codes or the relationship codes, for which see the links below.

File size: 23 kB; 118 rows of entry.


REL CODES 171230.xls provides a key to the abbreviations used for head of household, wife, son, daughter etc.  This document, originally provided for census purposes, has been amended to include relationships to the testator or intestate deceased for the purposes of the indexes relating to probate.

File size: 24 kB; 1 page.


CHAPMAN CTY CODES 030620.xls shows the well-known 3-letter county abbreviations in common use in genealogical databases.  The modern version is used here.

File size: 22 kB; 1 page.


PROB46 Article 040818.doc is an article that I have written about locating the surety bonds for PCC wills and administrations.

File size: 34 kB; 2 pages.


IR26 EXAMPLE 060301.doc is a document containing photos, to illustrate the occasional added value of searching in the Estate Duty Office registers. 

File size:  333 kB; 3 pages.


Renumbering 180311 is a short document explaining how Lichfield wills and administrations 1601-1730 & 1731-1860 have been renumbered in early 2018.




General Comments

All the documents here, although labelled "PROB", include letters of administration as well as probates of wills and, of course, administrations with will annexed.  


All dates are in the form yyyy-mm-dd.   Dates in the old calendar, before the adjustment in 1752, have been converted to modern calendar years.  Thus, for example, 5th February 1740/41, would be shown as 1741-02-05.


Coverage of grants of probate and of letters of administration in the period 1731 to 1860 is for the following ecclesiastical courts of England and Wales:


1.  Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), the court of highest jurisdiction, but often used when the deceased did not want his will available to inspect at the local registry.

2.  The West Midlands courts of Lichfield (LFC = Consistory or Bishop's, LFP = Peculiars) and Worcester (WRC).  Unfortunately, the Worcester court did not preserve the bonds for administrations.  

3.  The East Midlands courts of Lincoln (LNC, LNS) and the Peculiar of Mansfield Manor (MM) in Nottinghamshire.

4.  Prerogative Court of York (PCY), the York Exchequer Court (YOE), York Dean & Chapter Court (YDC), Archdeaconry of Richmond (RICHA), Knaresborough peculiar (YKP) and Selby peculiar (YSP).

5.  All the London courts.

6.  The Chester courts.

7.  Others, comprising Bedford, Berkshire, Bridgnorth (Shopshire) Peculiars, Carlisle, Chichester (wills only and up to 1800 only; none), Gloucester, Essex (wills only - see British Record Society Vol. 84 for full details; none), Ely (none), Hereford, Leicester (none), Oxford (wills only:  Diocesan 1762-1800 & Archdeaconry 1749-1800; Banbury & Cropredy and Thame & Great Milton Peculiars, 1736-1857; all none), Northampton Archdeaconry (none), Peterborough (none), Rochester Archdeaconry & Peculiars of Cliffe and Shoreham 1750-1858 (none), St. Asaph (Wales), Llandaff, St. David's, Bangor and Brecon (all Wales, all none) and Winchester.


This is not comprehensive coverage. Scottish wills are not covered at all, except for  a few confirmations.  Some of the English courts where Whitehouses are not likely to appear (e.g. Exeter, Truro, Salisbury, Durham) are not covered.  There might also be some smaller courts not covered.


From 9th January 1858, all grants were in civil registries which reported to the Principal Probate Registry in London.  There were 28 such grants for Whitehouses in the years 1858 to 1860 and they are included in this index, because the people mentioned in them have been extracted.


To get the best out of the indexes, you need to be able to sort in Excel.  See the CEN EXPLANATIONS file on the website if you do not know how to do it.  There’s a section at the end of that file.


PROB GRANTS 1731-1860

The file PROB GRANTS 1731-1860, followed by the date, is concerned only with listing and identifying the deceased Whitehouses. 


The file is arranged by forename of the deceased Whitehouse, then by the date of grant and after that by the database reference.  Of course, you can sort it in other ways, such as by the database reference in Column A.  The Grant Date has generally been taken as that stated in the will calendar or index (very occasionally there are a few days' discrepancy with the date appearing in the documents).  


In the Abode of Whitehouse deceased column, county symbols have been omitted in the heart of the West Midlands and for larger towns and cities everywhere.  Three towns have been abbreviated: Birmingham, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton (along with any roads of the same name).  Throughout, it has been decided to take a non-literal approach, so the less well-known places have been amplified by adding the name of a larger place nearby or the county code.


The Date of Death column has been enhanced by using dates taken from the Estate Duty Office registers and from the administration documents for the PCC (PROB 46).   The marital status is that derived from the wills and administration documents. Where the deceased has children, but no marital status is mentioned and no wife or husband is mentioned in the will or administration documents, it is presumed that he or she is a widower or a widow.  Where the date of death and the date of will are the same, the approximate date of death has been checked by reference to a burials index.


The Notes column gives Record Office references, where they are known.  Lichfield Record Office, like many others, files its wills and administrations by the date of grant.   Most of the references are to the National Archives classes and piece numbers.  PROB6 refers to administrations, PROB11 to wills, including those forming part of an administration with will annexed.  The WFHC index has been checked against the National Archives' new index of PCC wills and against printed indexes for the years up to 1800.  There is no overall index available for administrations from 1801 onwards, so the calendars for each year had to be checked.   PROB46 is the class mark for the bonds etc. for PCC administrations - details are in my article mentioned above.


Variant spellings of the deceased's surname, e.g. as WHITHOUSE, are shown.  The deceased's forename is rendered in the ordinary way.  If it appears oddly in the will or administration, the exact spelling appears in square brackets in the Notes column.


The WFHC reference number is given only in this file, NOT in the people file.  The question mark (?) indicates a degree of uncertainty.  Assigning the reference numbers has meant a certain amount of "tracing forward" with the aid of names of family members and census information.  


PROB PEOPLE 1731-1860

The file PROB PEOPLE 1731-1860, followed by the date, is derived by extracting the names and relationships of ALL people mentioned in the wills and administrations of Whitehouses.  That means everyone from the widow and relict (WI, RT) down to someone who witnesses a document (WT) and it includes all names, not just Whitehouse.   The only small exception is a solicitor or firm of solicitors whose name appears in the will only because the clerk who witnessed it mentions his employer - they have been omitted as too irrelevant to list separately, but they are included in the description of the clerk.


For each grant, the people are given a database reference, which is the same as that used in the other files, in the column A, followed by a number in column B.  The two columns A and  B together form a unique identification of each person.  The deceased himself or herself is included and given the number 1.  The others mentioned have numbers from 2 onwards, based partly on order of appearance in a will, with witnesses and appraisers of inventories at the end.  In this respect, the document is rather like the WFHC census indexes in which the piece, folio and schedule identify the household and each person within the household is assigned a number. 


The file has been sorted by the surname and then forename of others mentioned, followed by the date of grant.  Since the deceased have blanks in the "others mentioned" columns, they all appear together at the end.  To look at the whole extract of any particular will or administration, the file should be re-sorted by database reference and number (columns A and B). 


To find whether the grant has featured in the research of another correspondent, note the database reference and look it up in the PROB GRANTS 1731-1860 file - see above.


The relationship to the deceased is shown in the last column, for which the REL CODES document will be needed at first, until you get used to the symbols.  D signifies the deceased himself.   Blanks in that column mean that no relationship is indicated.  Where the person is described in the will as a friend, this has been omitted, as it is presumed that the testator would not make a bequest to an enemy (unless he is a creditor).   In only a very few cases has information of later date been taken from the Estate Duty Office register and included. 


It will be noticed that a few widows do not have a name.  This is because they were referred to simply as "my loving wife" etc.  It was considered useful to indicate that the testator had a wife living at the date of the will, so such people were included.  However, this principle does not extend beyond the widow: un-named children, nephews etc. are not listed.   Where only the forename of the child is given in the will, as in e.g. "my daughters Anna, Mary and Sarah", it is assumed that they are unmarried and have the Whitehouse surname - which is not necessarily correct, but better than omitting the surname.


Relationships to others are shown in the penultimate column, e.g. "DA of 3" means that the person referred to is the daughter of person No. 3 in the same will or administration (= same database ref.).  To discover who "3" is, use "Find" to look up all the people mentioned for the same database ref. or simply re-sort the document by database ref. and number.


PROB GRANTS 1601-1730 & PROB PEOPLE 1601-1730

These files are in the same style as those for 1731-1860, but the PROB PEOPLE 1601-1730 document is far less complete than that for 1731-1860.  The database referencing runs in a separate series of numbers, each preceded by the letter "X".  The Sedgley Manorial Court material comes from the Tildesley extracts, i.e. it has not been sourced directly from the original papers.


PROB EDO 1796-1857

The Estate Duty Office registers are a subject in themselves.  The National Archives have produced leaflets.


Briefly, the Legacy Duty Act of 1796 invented a new form of taxation to pay for national defence against a French invasion.  From 1796 to 1805, legacy duty was payable only on personal estate (money, goods etc.) and not on real estate (property or leases of property).  It was payable only on legacies and residues of the estate over £20 and only when the beneficiaries were not spouses, children, parents or grandparents of the deceased.   There are thus few entries in the registers for that period.  The 1805 Legacy Duty Act limited the excepted beneficiaries to spouses and parents.  It also included property which the will directed should be sold to raise money for legacies or the residue of the estate.  The £20 limit of exemption remained.  From 1815 to 1853, parents were removed from the exemption.   In the result, most estates were dutiable from 1815 onwards.  The Succession Duty Act of 1853 changed the law to catch virtually all estates worth over £100, regardless of whether it was personal or real property, although bequests to spouses continued to be exempted.  Legacy duty continued alongside it.


The use of the Estate Duty Office registers to genealogists lies mainly in the fact that they cover the whole of England & Wales and can save a search through numerous individual ecclesiastical court records.  They were consulted in the present context to reduce the chances of mistake in the grants index.  While there are many grants without an EDO record, there are no EDO records without a grant.


Even when one has established a grants index, the EDO records still have a value, particularly in giving a date of death that might not be available from the probate or administration papers.  Also, the efforts of the EDO clerks to chase up duty payable long after the event, for example because property was left with only a life interest to the widow and subsequently sold, sometimes result in information about when the widow died or about the names of the beneficiaries.


The Estate Duty Office registers are classified by the National Archives under mark IR26.  The aim has been to use the IR26 piece number, followed by the page number.  However, in the earliest years, it is the entry number, rather than page number, and because that can be awkward to find, a film folio number has been added.  The number that precedes the page and is separated by a comma as in, for instance 2, 482, is the register number.  That can normally be ignored, since the page number is enough.  It is included as a source of possible help if - I dread the thought - the page number has been mistyped.


The official index in IR27, rather erratically, sometimes names only the first executor or administrator and sometimes all of them.  To keep the WFHC index to a sensible size, only the first one is given.  Of course, the database reference can be used to obtain further details from PROB 1731-1860 GRANTS or PEOPLE.


Because the main use of this index will be to look at the registers to see whether any further information is available (alas, this is not very often the case), it is presented in Database Ref. order. 


In IR26 piece 1790, the first half of page 453 was not filmed.  The original register was inspected at the National Archives, Kew.  No attempt was made to inspect the few registers described as unfit for filming.


The IR26 EXAMPLE file mentioned above shows an entry relating to one of the Whitehouse farmers at Springthorpe in Lincolnshire.


PROB GRANTS 1858-1960

This huge index is based on Whitehouse deceased in the official yearly indexes of the Principal Probate Registry.  These indexes relate to England & Wales only, but cover confirmations of some of the Scottish probates, this being required when property was held in England or Wales.  The WFHC index consolidates the PPR yearly indexes into a single index.  Unlike the WFHC index for 1731-1860, it relates only to the grant and death details. That is, there is no corresponding index of people mentioned in wills.


The beauty of this WFHC index is that because the GRO death index data have been added, an age of death is given from 1866 onwards and this is of immense help in identifying the right person.  The index has been further enhanced by the addition of a column in which the date of birth of the deceased is calculated by subtracting age at death from the date of death.  The file on the website is sorted by (1) Forenames of the deceased Whitehouse, (2) Date of grant, (3) Database reference (PR….....) and (4) Number (see below for explanations).  I have abandoned a previous sorting order, by using the date of grant in place of calculated year of birth, having found this to be more convenient, but, of course, it could be re-sorted in moments, as desired.  Some ages at death cannot be matched up with certainty (without a death certificate):  if there are two possibilities close together in age, then I have taken an average and used that to calculate the year of birth, because ages at death are frequently a few years wrong anyway.


WORDS OF CAUTION:  It is advisable to look through the whole range of a particular forename, remembering (a) that some deceased have no calculated date of birth, because the age of death is not known (this applies even in and after 1866 - war deaths normally have no age at death, for example) or the calculated date of birth is ambiguous or the age at death is given inaccurately and (b) that if the person has a second forename, he will be sorted after the single forename entries, regardless of his calculated birth year.  While this could take a little time, it is one of the huge advantages of a spreadsheet over having to enter particulars in search boxes that one can view the remoter possibilities very easily, thus increasing the chance of finding an official entry which contains a mistake or is not at the date which you thought it ought to be.  Once again, do bear in mind that some grants take place many years after death.


This grants index allots each death a database reference, beginning PR…….  They are arranged in the same order within a year as in the official indexes, that is to say alphabetically.  Exceptionally, the early years have separate official indexes for wills and administrations, so the Whitehouse extracts from these official indexes have been consolidated here into a single index.  Within any given year, the order of the database reference as to month and day is therefore not the same as the order of date of grant.


Thirteen new entries were added to the 1858-1950 section in June 2013, which resulted in re-numbering of the database references.  The new entries are PR0345, 0383, 0673, 0738, 0756 and 1275, all the WITTHAUS variation;  PR0064: WHITEUS and 0508, 0674, 0681, 1018, 1441 and 1557, all Whitehouse BIRD whose birth was registered as WHITEHOUSE.  There were other Whitehouse BIRDs, whose birth was registered as BIRD and they have not been included.  These additions bring the WFHC probate index into line with the policy used to compile the WFHC births, deaths and marriages indexes.


All the grantees, that is to say the executors to whom probate was granted or spouses etc. to whom letters of administration were granted, that are mentioned in the official indexes appear here.  There are often two or three per grant.  Each grantee is therefore given a number in the No. column if there is more than one.  A blank in the No. column means that there was only one grantee.  Any number in the No. column (it can be from 1 to 5) means that there was more than one grantee, so it might be advisable to re-sort the document by database reference and then number, in order to view all the grantees.


The grant date, like all dates in these indexes, is in yyyy-mm-dd format.


In the A/W column, A signifies an administration, W a will and AW an administration with will annexed.


In the address of the deceased, the place of death (POD) is given only if it is different from the address given for the deceased.  A POD in the same town or village, which is less detailed than the address of the deceased, is taken to be the same.


The grant registry symbol key appears in the Grants Key file.  It is based largely on postcodes.  LND is used for London and is the same as the Principal Registry.


Addresses in the official index are given inconsistently.  Efforts have been made in this database to be more consistent.  Where the place is in the West Midlands (defined as the counties of Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire), the county code has been omitted.  "Aston" means Aston, Birmingham.  "Dudley" without any county code means Dudley, Worcestershire (West Midlands):  the village of Dudley, Northumberland is shown with the county code NBL.  Elsewhere, outside London, the policy is to omit county codes of towns, with some exceptions in cases where there is ambiguity.  In places, the address in the official index has been corrected and/or improved by adding a place nearby which is more recognisable.  Obvious clerical errors in the official index have also been corrected.


Dates of death can be many years before the date of grant, so it is important to remember that this is an index of GRANTS from 1858 to 1960.  Therefore, it does not cover people who died in 1960 or earlier, but whose will was not proved until after 1960.


Every effort has been made to locate a GRO death index reference, but some were not found.  This could be for any of a variety reasons such as:  death never registered, death registered but a copy never found its way from the local register office to the GRO, wrong date of death given in will index, mistyped age at death in the GRO indexes, death did not take place in England or Wales (despite there being no foreign POD indicated) and I daresay others.


AE at D means age at death.


The calculated year of birth is normally that obtained by subtracting the age at death from the year of death.  In some instances, this could not be done, because of any of the following factors:  the year of death was before 1866; a valid GRO death index reference could not be found; no age at death was given; the death index was ambiguous and the two possible ages were widely different; or the death took place outside England & Wales.


The notes include references to earlier and later grants (EG, LG) relating to the same deceased.


Where there are two or more grantees, they appear on consecutive lines numbered 1, 2, etc. in the number (No.) column.  If the grantee is the husband of a deceased married woman, the abbreviation "HU" is used to indicate this.  In the earlier years, the widow of a deceased husband is described in the Principal Probate Registry index as the widow and relict (WI & RT), but this practice stopped after 1891.  From 1892 onwards, "widow" does not necessarily mean widow of the deceased.