Audience or Chancery Court of York

During the medieval period the number of wills proven in this court were not great and no separate Probate Registers or Probate Act Books were kept. Instead, the Archbishops' Registers doubled as Probate Registers and Probate Act Books. After 1525 the Court began keeping dedicated Court Act Books, which were then also used for recording probate acts.

The Audience or Chancery Court of York had probate jurisdiction over beneficed clergy, except for the years 1823-4 when this jurisdiction was handled by the Prerogative Court. The Court also had jurisdiction when inferior courts were inhibited due to archiepiscopal visitations. Before the early sixteenth century the wills of those of high social standing were also proved in this Court.

The Archbishops' Registers contain entries of registered copy wills, together with probate acts, mandates and commissions to commissaries acting in a testamentary capacity, and other supplemental acts.

The series of Archbishops' Registers begin in 1225 with the register of Archbishop Walter de Gray, (Borthwick reference, Reg.1), however, this early register contains no testamentary business. The first register containing testamentary business is that of  Archbishop Walter Giffard, 1266-1279. The first register to contain a will in full is the Vacancy register of 1315-1317, but this was extraordinary, being the will of the Bishop of Durham. The register of Archbishop William de la Zouche,  1342-52, has a separate testamentary section, and the general practice of copying wills in full in the registers begins from here. From Archbishop Richard Scrope,  1398-1405, separate testamentary sections become the norm.

The main finding aids to the above are:

Index of the Wills and Administrations entered in the Registers of the Archbishops at York, being Consistory Wills &c., A.D. 1316 to A.D. 1822. Known as The Archbishops' Wills, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Records Series, Volume XCIII, 1937.


Index of The original Documents of the Consistory Court of York, A.D. 1427 to A.D. 1658, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Records Series, Volume LXXIII, 1928.

The above indexes erroneously refer to Consistory Court Wills. They are definitely Chancery Court Wills. The start date for the first volume is also somewhat misleading, as there is a single extraordinary will of the Bishop of Durham entered in the Sede Vacante register for 1316. The start date for the main series of wills entered in the archbishops' registers is 1342. It should also be noted that this index is only to wills that are entered in toto in the registers.

The wills relating to Ellerton are as follows:

Ellerton Wills proved in the Audience or Chancery Court of York
Probate Date
Will Date
Vol fol
No date

Pykering, Thomas de

bur. Ellerton