An executor typically petitioned the court to accept the will following an individual’s death. A hearing date was set to ‘prove’ the will. Witnesses to the will appeared in court and if the will was not contested it was admitted or ‘probated’ into the court. “Letters of Testament” were the courts official notice and confirmation of the executor’s appointment. After the will was probated the clerk transcribed and indexed a copy into the will books. The transcribed copies and original wills were both kept at the Courthouse. Today the Lancaster County Archives preserves the original wills for the years 1730-c.1914. Some original wills cannot be photocopied due to their fragile condition. If the decedent did not have a will researchers should consider alternative death records in the archives such as Intestate and Orphans’ Court records.
Search Tips: Names within this index are arranged alphabetically by first letter of the surname and then alphabetically by first letter of the given name. Names are further indexed chronologically by date the will was probated or brought to the Courthouse. A will may be indexed several years after the death occurred. Use the bookmark feature within the index to quickly navigate to the appropriate surname and first name section.