Probate Records Part 2: Newfoundland and PEI

Last post we talked about the information you can get from.a probate file. Most of Canada follows English Common Law\’s process of probate and administration. The FamilySearch Wiki has a good tutorial of the process here.This post, we\’re going to look at how to get probate/administration records in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.

It was not mandatory that a will go through the probate process in Newfoundland. However, for the heirs to liquidate an estate, then they must have legal right to do so through the courts. If your ancestor was what we would consider middle to upper class, then they would probably have had a probate or administration process after their death. The same would hold true if there were minor children left behind.

Probate and Administration cases are handled by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland. There are 6 locations in the province:

  • Corner Brook
  • Gander
  • Grand Bank
  • Grand Falls-Windsor
  • Happy Valley-Goosebay
  • St. John\’s

There are several different ways to look for probate files in the province.

1. Registry of Deeds: If your ancestor had property before 1832, you might want to contact the Regsitry of Deeds Office. They have land registry books available to view on site that go back to 1825. If land passed between family members, there might be probate related records there.

2. The Rooms: This Provincial Archive had probate records from 1825- 1900. They are available to view on site. They do handle research requests for those searching at a distance, but they do follow certain guidelines. Your best bet would be to contact them directly to see if they can handle your request.

3. If you are researching from a distance, and have deep Newfoundland roots, you might want to consider a membership to the Family History Society of Newfoundland. Among other records, they have digitized collections of Probate and Administration records from the Supreme Court. These are available in their members only area. Membership is only $42/year.

4. Post 1900 files are still held in custody of the Supreme Court. The link to their information on Wills, Estates and Guardianship is here. About half way down the page is a request for a search form. The search is $20.00 in advance. Photocopies are $0.25 each.

5. If you\’re not sure where to find a file, check out the indexes at the Newfoundland Grand Banks.

6. FamilySearch has microfilms of various probate record sets. These are not digitized, but can be viewed at a Family History Centre.

Prince Edward Island
According to Family Search, estates in PEI were required by law to be probated. It did not matter if there was a will. The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island Estates Division handles the probate process. There are 3 locations in the province:

  • Charlottetown
  • Summerside
  • Georgetown
Here are some resources for finding Probate Court Records:
1. FamilySearch has several microfilms on PEI probate. You can access their list here.
2.The Provincial Archives Record Office (PARO) holds the records for the province before 1930. These are not online, but can be viewed onsite. Some of the PARO\’s holdings are microfilmed and available through inter library loan, but I do not know if the collection of probate and Estate records are part of the microfilms. Scroll to the bottom on this link to find out what\’s available for researching from a distance.
3. Post 1930 records are held at Estates Section, Sir Louis Henry Davies Law Courts in Charlottetown.
4. The Island Register has a transcription database of early PEI wills. You can view what they have here.
5. Don\’t forget to contact the provincial Registrar of Deeds if your ancestor owned land. Probate related records could be on file there.

Next post we\’ll be looking at Nova Scotia and New Bunswick. This post, we\’re going to look at how to get probate/administration records in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.

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