Probate for settlers in the Port Phillip District was generally granted by either the Supreme Court of New South Wales or the Ecclesiastical Court in Sydney, N.S.W. These probate papers are now held by the Public Record Office of Victoria at their North Melbourne repository. For this pre 1 July 1851 era three separate handwritten indexes were maintained. The first list consisted of the earliest files proved in the Supreme Court. The second list contained those files proved in the Ecclesiastical Court. The third list consisted of files proved in the Supreme Court which were "carried forward to 1853-1888 index".
These handwritten indexes were not kept in strict alphabetical order. A. C. (Tony) Miller has prepared computer listings of the first two of them. The three handwritten and two computer lists have been published on a single microfiche "Probate Index Victoria 1841-1853" by MacBeth Genealogical Books (Melbourne, 1992) under licence for the State of Victoria. The entries on the third handwritten list were inserted in a later printed index covering 1853-1888. This has been copied onto a set of fifteen microfiche by the same publishers as "Probate Index Victoria 1853-1888".
George Henry Legassicke Crespin, a storekeeper originally from Devon, England, died in Melbourne on 5 October 1849. His will was proved in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. It was also proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) on 14 December 1849. His is one of many pre 1858 PCC wills with Australian addresses listed by Grahame Thom in an article in "Descent", the journal of the Society of Australian Genealogists ( vol. 34, part 3, September 2004). An index of all PCC wills is searchable on the UK National Archives website and copies of the wills can be purchased and received online. While the PCC was the most important court in England for proving wills up till 1858 there were many other courts.
Capt. Philip Grove Beers (80th Regiment) died on 28 February 1842 in Melbourne. An admon (with will annexed) was granted at Dublin, Ireland on 5 June 1877 to his brother, William Beers of Brook Cottage, County Down (a former grant in 1842 by his sister, Elizabeth Beers, had been left unadministered). Similar grants for Port Phillip District settlers were made at Dublin for William Pomeroy Greene ( died 1845 ); Roderick Mackenzie ( died 1849 ) and a number of others who died after 1851. These are listed in a chapter on Irish-Australia Will Abstracts in the book "Researching Irish Australians", edited by Brian Trainor (Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, 1998).
( Contributed by Alexander Romanov-Hughes, PPPG Member No. 52)
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