Researching your ancestors from Great Britain and Ireland

A guide to researching your ancestors in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, using resources at State Library Victoria.


In Scotland the term 'testament' is use to describe all the documents relating to the executry of a deceased person. It is primarily an inventory of the dead person's property and in many cases does not actually include a will. Not everyone left a testament. Even by the 1960s it was estimated that only half of the Scots who died had left testament papers..

Testaments 1513-1925

  • Both a full index and digital copies of the testaments for this period are available on the  ScotlandsPeople website (content is pay-per-view).

Testaments 1926 -1999

  • Testaments for this period are indexed in the Calendar of Confirmations which is held in the National Records of Scotland. To search for a record you need to know the person's name, where they lived, and when they died.

Some Scottish people are also listed in the England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of wills and administrations) 1858-1966. This index is available via the Ancestry Library Edition (only available in the library).

Testaments 2000 onwards

  • Testaments recorded from 2000 onwards contact the Commissary Department based within the Edinburgh Sheriff Court. For futher information go to the Scottish Courts website.

Soldiers & Airmans wills

  • Over 30,000 soldiers wills are now available online through the ScotlandsPeople website. The majority of the records are from the First World War however there are almost 5000 records from World War Two. Although the will indexes are free to search, there is a fee to view each transcript.

Further information

  • For detailed information on Scottish wills please go to the National Records of Scotland Wills and testament website.