Wills and probate in Jamaica
Original wills are today kept at the Island Record Office (which by Law 6 of
1879 replaced the office of Island Secretary), part of the Registrar General's
Department of Jamaica.
Copies of proved wills for the past 100 years or so are kept at the Supreme
Court, but these are primarily for the use of the legal profession.
District Courts operated from 1867 until March 1888, when on
2 April 1888 they were replaced by the Resident Magistrates' Courts.
There is a Resident Magistrate's Court for each parish.
The Supreme Court was established by law of 1879.
Wills are proved in a Resident Magistrate's Court or the Supreme Court,
depending on the value of the estate.
[Wills proved in District Courts / Resident Magistrate's Courts.
Wills proved in the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica.]
List of testators of Jamaican wills
from LDS films
Some sources for information on early Jamaican wills:
- Will index at the Jamaican Registrar General's office.
The (approximate) year of death and the parish of the testator's residence
must be known to use this index effectively.
The index gives the liber and folio numbers of the will record.
Some of the will books have been recopied and the folio number in the index
may no longer be valid unless it states old folio or new folio.
- Indexes, compiled by Vere Langford Oliver and published in
Caribbeana, to wills "which are on record in the Office of the Island
Secretary, Jamaica, from [?]1663 to 1750".
Caribbeana vol's 1, 2, and 3: LDS FHLC film no. 0038848;
Caribbeana vol. 5: LDS FHLC film no. 0038849.
(Vol's 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 part 1 are all available in hardcopy at Salt Lake City.
No copy of vol. 4 is available.)
Caribbeana also has an index to wills which were proved in the
Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), London, of testators with Jamaican
connections, for the period 1655 - 1816.
The volume and quire numbers from an entry in the Caribbeana index can
be used to find, in the FHL catalogue under England - Probate Records -
Church of England - Province of Canterbury, the number
of the film with the copy of the relevant PCC will.
- Lists compiled by the Jamaican historian C.E. Long.
British Library Additional Ms 21931.
These lists cover the period 1661 - 1750 and are as follows:
- List 1: 1661-1700, by liber, non-alphabetically, without folio number
- List 2: 1701-1730, alphabetically, by year and liber, with folio number
- List 3: 1731-1750, alphabetically, by year, with liber number and without folio number
- Abstracts of Jamaica wills, 1625 - 1792.
British Library Additional Ms 34184.
This collection of 312 abstracts of wills of English colonists or landholders
in Jamaica was made by Verona I.C. Smith.
- Hints for tracing an Anglo-American pedigree in the old country:
with a list of wills from 1700 to 1725 in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury,
England, of testators living or dying in America and the West Indies by
LDS FHLC film no. 1429855, item 14.
(My thanks go to Madeleine Mitchell for some of the above.)
Madeleine Mitchell has used the Caribbeana PCC lists and C.E. Long's
lists (referred to in the second and third items above) to make an index of
early Jamaican wills for the period 1655 - 1816.
Some (confusing) notes about this index are available at
her Web site.
For details of some wills not filmed by the LDS see:
I make no claim as to the completeness or accuracy of the above information.
addition, or correction is welcomed.
Copyright © 1999 - 2012 Tony Martin-Jones
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