May 29, 2022

Genealogy: History: New Database of 41 Million Wills Filed in UK (Back to 1858) Now Online; Wills of Churchill, Turing, Dickens, Orwell and Others Accessible

Note: Although a full record is fee-based some basic details from a will are available at no charge.

From the UK Gov:

The wills of Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Alan Turing and Beatrix Potter are among millions which have been made accessible to the public through a searchable online database.

The government’s archive of 41 million wills dates back to 1858 and will enable people to find out more about their family histories, as well as researching the last wishes of some of the most influential people of the 19th and 20th century.

As a result of the innovative project carried out by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and storage and information management company Iron Mountain, people will be able to connect to history from the comfort of their own home and look up the wills of people such as:

  • the mathematician Alan Turing whose life story has been told in the film The Imitation Game
  • Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist author Charles Dickens
  • Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill
  • Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter


The availability of the database of 41 million wills follows the first stage of opening up the archive when soldiers’ wills were made available in 2013.

Since then there have been more than 2 million searches of the site showing people’s considerable interest in family history. The latest phase in the programme means that people can now request a specific will online and receive an electronic copy within 10 working days.

Additional Details in the Complete Announcement

From the BBC:

Wills have always been public documents and the existing £10 fee for each document applies to downloads.

A name and year of death is required to find wills, which should be ready for download within 10 days of order.


It contains wills from England and Wales. Different procedures apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The database also includes the wills of those who died while serving in the British armed forces between 1850 and 1986.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Wills of Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and Beatrix Potter now available online (via The Telegraph)

Direct to Find a Will Database (Beta)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.