Monday, 11 June 2018
Probate Records Part 3 - Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
This is the third in a series of posts about Probate Records. In Part 1 I gave an quick overview of Probate Records and what information they can give us. In Part 2 we looked at Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. Now we're going to look at Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
From what I could find, there was or is no law in Nova Scotia requiring the Probate Process. However, if your ancestor had any kind of assets, they could not be distributed or settled legally without going through the courts. The process is done was done through the provincial Supreme Court's Probate Court. A complete overhaul of the Probate Process was done and came into effect on 1 October 2001. You can find the differences in the General Information section on the Supreme Court's web site. According to the rules on public access, Probate files have no restrictions on access once settled, unless ordered by a judge.
Here's where you can access wills and probate records:
1. Nova Scotia Archives has wills and probate records microfilmed and available to view onsite only. Thee records go from the 1700's to the mid twentieth century. From some quick searchs of their holdings, these can be found not only in Court Record sets, but in Family fonds as well. I also saw at least one record collection that belonged to a lawyer, and involved his case files. Talking to Archives staff looks to be the best course of action when you visit. A brief description of what they carry is here.
2. Originals of all proceedings are kept by the Registrar's office of the Probate Court. The Nova Scotia Courts website has an online database of their decisions from 2002 on wards here. This only gives you the final decision of the court, but from there you can get the information you need to find the actual files. There are several Probate Court locations around the province. To locate which courthouse would possibly hold your ancestor's records, use the interactive map here.
3. Family Search has a browse only collection on their website called Nova Scotia Probate Records 1760-1993. They are divided by County, then by year range. It will take some time but it will be worth it.
4. Check out local genealogical and historical societies from your ancestor's area. Many of them have transcribed records. Some are available freely, while some may require a membership. Fees for membership can be well worth your while if you have many ancestors in a particular area.
Probate was not mandatory in New Brunswick. Like Nova Scotia, there is a special Probate Division of the Supreme Court, and records are held there. You can access contact information of the Probate Courts in the province here.
Other resources for records are the following:
1. The New Brunswick Courts web site has a searchable index. You will need to input a last name, then click on advanced options to narrow it down to probate and the area your ancestor's file will be in. This is a work in progress. All cases from 2010 to now are indexed. They are continually adding earlier years. Clicking on the results will give you a brief description of the particulars, and where to access the complete file.
2. The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick has wills and probate files in their holdings. These are not online. You will need to access the County Guides to see your area of interest's holdings. Some records have been microfilmed, and the PANB participates in inter library loan. Remember that county boundaries were quite fluid for a lot of years. You may have to look at a different County to get the information you need.
3. The PANB also has an online database of brief abstracts for over 2,000 files here. It is indexed several different ways. It is nowhere near as good as having a look at the complete record, but can give you a good starting point on further research.
4. If your ancestor was a New Brunswick Loyalist, check out the UNB's Loyalist Collection. The microfilms can be accessed through inter library loan, and they also do some research for others.
5. As with Nova Scotia, there are many local genealogical and historical societies in the province. Do a Google search to see which ones pertain to your area of interest. You never know if one of their volunteers has put together a collection.
Next post we're going to continue west and look at Quebec and Ontario.