Database of 41 million Wills now available online to public

The government's archive of 41 million Wills has been made available to the public through a new online database. The public are now able to search for the Wills of influential historical figures such as Charles Dickens, Sir Winston Churchill and Beatrix Potter, in an archive dating back to 1858. This forms part of a project carried out by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and storage and information management company Iron Mountain, in an effort to open up public services. People can carry out research into their family histories from the comfort of their own home, eliminating the need to visit the probate registry to search the archives. Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said: "This fascinating project provides us with insights into the ordinary and extraordinary people who helped shape this country, and the rest of the world. It is a fantastic resource not only for family historians but also for anyone with an interest in social history or famous figures". Since the first phase of opening up the archive of soldiers' Wills in 2013 there have been 2 million searches online, demonstrating the public's great interest in family history. With copies of requested Wills available in electronic format within 10 working days, the archive aims to provide a flexible and efficient service for users. Click here to search through the database.

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