HC Deb 22 March 1938 vol 333 cc1014-5W
Major Hills

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Principal Probate Registry at Somerset House will not make searches for wills or letters of administration nor send copies by post where the deceased person died before 1853, and that this involves the personal attendance at Somerset House for those who desire such searches or copies; and, as the wills now at Somerset House go back for centuries and are used to an ever increasing extent by historians, genealogists, writers and the public generally who, if they live in the provinces or out of England are put to needless expense in paying an agent to do a search and procure a copy, will he alter the regulations so as to permit of the authorities at Somerset House making a search and posting the copies in return for a reasonable fee which would be profitable to the revenue and convenient to the public?

The Attorney-General

I have been asked to reply. I am aware that those desiring to see wills or letters of administration prior to 1853 have to make a personal search or have one made on their behalf. The documents prior to 1853 are not indexed or arranged in lexicographical order, and there would be diffi- culty about arranging for this work to be done by the existing staff or in fixing a fee which would be commensurate with the time and labour involved.