Probate is the process of proving a will and of administering the estate of the deceased. Today this process is undertaken nationally by the civil courts. Pre 1858 probate in England and Wales was mainly administered by ecclesiastical courts in a system of provincial, diocesan and special jurisdictions. Durham University Library holds the probate records of 70,000 individuals from County Durham and Northumberland - the old Durham diocese. These records have been catalogued and digitised and are freely available online and can be searched online as The North East Inheritance database (pre-1858 Durham Probate Records).
This excellent introduction explains the terminology, types of records and documents created and will help you understand the process. New