Wills for which probate has been granted are deposited with the Registrar of the Probate Office pursuant to Sections 30 and 31 of the Wills, Probate and Administration Act (Act No.13, 1898). The original will and accompanying documents are held in Probate packets. Probate packets are restricted to members of the deceased’s family or their legal representatives. However, copies of the wills, dating from about 1800 onwards, are held in the Will books.
As with the Probate packets, the Supreme Court of New South Wales divided this series of will books into groupings, which they have called “series”. After extensive research and discussions with the Supreme Court no definitive answer as to why these records have been divided could be ascertained. Possible reasons for the division include: statutory change, agency or administrative change and sheer size of the “series” (e.g. “series” 4 has over one million wills). The “series” are divided as follows: Series 1- c.1800-May 1873, Series 2- 1873-1876, Series 3- 1876-c.1890, and Series 4- c.1890-1985.
This series consists of volumes containing copies of original wills. Prior to 1924 the copies of the wills were handwritten, between 1924 and 1952 the copies were typed. In 1952 the copies were altered to photocopies. For about twenty years at the beginning of the twentieth century, the handwritten copies were compiled by members of the Australian cricket team. This was evidently because a senior officer of the Court was also Chairman of the Cricket Board, and arranged the work for the winter months.
These volumes are divided into four series and are arranged numerically within each series.