Report on the Probate Calendar Stakeholders meeting held in London on 17th April 2012
The meeting was chaired by John Briden of the Probate Service and accompanied by representatives from the Iron Mountain Document Management – the archive facility which currently holds the contract for storing and providing copies on demand of post-1858 wills. They demonstrated how the system will work, however, many details are yet to be finalised.
The paper versions up to 1996 have already been scanned and those from 1996 will be redacted version of the Probateman database. The database will not be fully searchable but more of a browse facility and will be the same as looking at a book and turning the pages. Searching will be free and it is a possibility that copies be ordered and delivered online.
The discovery of 300,000 Soldiers Wills in boxes which have never been entered in the Calendars will become available online by the end of 2012 is of great interest. These wills cover the Crimean War, WW1 and WW2, no mention was made of the Boer War. They apply to non-commissioned officers.
The order in which it is thought the wills and administrations will come available online is :
Probate 2006 to current
1996 to 2005
1940 to 1995
1858 to 1900
1901 to 1939
There was some discussion as to whether the last two were in the correct order.
The above mentioned search facility will be available on a new website details of which are still in development.
Much of the discussion centred on the time taken for the production of copies and whether the one hour service at First Avenue House which has been discontinued and replaced by a forty eight hour service should be reinstated. John Briden said that the service had to cater for different users most of whom were happy with the present arrangement. Another point which took up time was the sealing of wills and resealing and this was from the legal viewpoint and not from family historians.
A further meeting is to be held on 30 May at the Principal Registry of the Family Division.
FFHS Archives Liaison
10 May 2012