There are basically two types of probate records---Wills and Estates. Wills, written before a person dies, specify how a person's estate is to be distributed. Estate papers, recorded after a person dies, describe how a person's estate was distributed. The original wills and the estate papers are kept separately, but for your convenience the transcribed copies have been combined here. To help you locate your ancestor's probate records, this page provides a list of individual probate records with links. Also provided is a master index of all individuals referenced in the transcribed probate records along with links to the corresponding record.


Links to individual's probate records are provided by surname in this list. In addition to the link to the probate record, each entry in the list includes the individual, or organization, that submitted the record along with an email address for the submitter, if available. To search for a probate record for an individual in the list, click on the letters below that correspond to the individual's surname.

A - B C - D E - H I - L
M - N O - R S T - Z


The Master index provides a list of all individuals referenced in the transcribed probate records available on this site, except clerks of court, judges, and secretaries of state. Each entry in the surname index includes the individual's name, a link to the probate record where that individual can be found, the relationship of the individual to the deceased, if any, and the year the probate record was written. When the last name is implied, it appears in parenthesis; for example: if the will of James Basnight referred to a daughter by the name of Rody Twidy and to a slave by the name of George then the names appear in the index data as follows:

{Basnight}, George
{Basnight}, Rody
Twidy, Rody

Thus you can find George by his implied name of Basnight and you can find Rody by both her implied maiden name of Basnight and her married name of Twidy.

A Ba - Bk Bl - Bz C D E - G
Ha - Hn Ho - Hz I - K L M N - O
P - R Sa - So Sp - Ss St - Sz T - V W - Z


Wills are written before a person dies and define how ones worldly possessions will be disposed of. A person who dies with a will dies "testate". After a person dies, a person's estate is disposed of according to the will (if one exists), or according to the state laws if a person dies without a will (intestate).

Prior to 1760, all wills presented for probate in North Carolina were filed in the office of the provincial secretary. Because of the fragile nature of these wills, they have been withdrawn from public use. Prior to their withdrawal, the wills were arranged and filmed in alphabetical order. Wills from adjoining counties that have obvious references to Tyrrell County are also transcribed here; for example, the 1718 will of George Whidbe will be included here since he leaves property on the Alligator River to his son.

In 1760, wills were allowed to be filed in the county instead of sending them to the secretary. There are five will books located in the courthouse in Tyrrell County, NC. Books 1 - 4 have been transcribed and posted here. Little attempt has been made to correct some obvious errors since these errors do not appear to detract from the genealogical significance of the data entered. Wills in book 5 are listed, but will not be transcribed here. However, wills in book 5 can be ordered from the

Tyrrell County Clerk of Court
Columbia, North Carolina 27925.
Copies of many wills continued to be sent to the state after 1760 and, for some unknown reason, a large number of wills in Tyrrell County were not copied into the official will books. These wills are termed "Original" Wills and only exist at the North Carolina Division of Archives and History in Raleigh.

Deeds of Gift, which are similar to Wills except they are executed while the person is still alive, may also be included, but only based on researcher submissions. No comprehensive effort has been made to collect all deeds of gift from Tyrrell County deeds.

Special thanks go to William E. Gray, Ellen Kroll, Jean Pennell, Carolyn Swain Rice, Jean Owens Schroeder and Michael J. Schoettle who have volunteered their time to transcribe wills. Also special thanks go to the researchers who have submitted wills. If you have a will you would like to submit please email me and attach the will.


The actual distribution of an estate, including minor children, is described in estate papers. The estate records contain items such as administration bonds, inventories, accounts of sales, guardian bonds, guardian accounts, distributions from the estate, bills, receipts, et. al. These records have only recently become available on microfilm from the North Carolina Division of Archives and History in Raleigh. Because of the sheer volume of these records, their inclusion here will depend entirely upon volunteers to submit abstracts of the records. Special thanks go to Nancy Reeves and Patsy Flowers who have been instrumental in getting the effort started to enter the estate records.

Special thanks go to Chris Meekins who provided us with an up-to-date index to the LOOSE estate papers on file in the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. Box numbers for these LOOSE estate papers are reflected in the last two digits of the CR reference number. These LOOSE estate papers vary in the amount and type of documents that still exist.

In addition to the loose estate papers, there are other estate papers that are in bound books of inventories, sales, administrator's bonds, etc. for varying periods of time, generally after 1800. There are four bound books that contain primarily inventories and accounts of estate sales that span the period 1799 to 1868. These are transcriptions of the same documents that may or may not be found in the LOOSE estate papers. Inventories may include notes of debt due the deceased. Sales are valuable in that they list all property being sold and who bought each item, a great clue to relationships in some cases. Sales also include a list of the slaves belonging to the estate being sold or the division of slaves among the heirs. This can be vital information for African American genealogists trying to trace forebears before the Civil War. The listings in the master index include inventories, sales and hires. Hires are listings of land and slaves rented out before the division or sale of an estate. All of these listings also include the volume (book) and page number(s) where the document may be found. Volume one is listed as covering the period 1802 - 1815, but there are some inventories/sales that date back to 1799. Volume two is listed as covering the period 1806 - 1837. It follows a normal page sequence up to page 131, then it only has page numbers for the beginning of each new document. Because of that our listing shows the page number and the total number of pages in parenthesis. Then almost all the inventories are in the end of the book, which has no page numbers at all. These are described as "End" with the total number of pages the document covers. Parts of volume 2 are not listed because the writing was too faint to be able to determine the name of the deceased. Volume three covers the period 1841 - 1865. Beside all the foregoing types of documents it also contains guardian accounts. We are just starting to add documents from Volume 3. It will be an ongoing project.


Court records can also be a valuable source of probate information. The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions made entries in their minute book of the proof of wills, the appointment of executors of wills and administrators of estates, the submission of inventories, the accounts of sales, the appointment of persons to divide estates, the appointment of guardians, the selection of guardians by older children, etc. In some cases the original documents relating to these transactions no longer exist and the court minutes are the sole source. And sometimes the minutes serve as the only surviving reference to a persons death.

We have started extracting the court minutes. At present we are up to 1762. When there is a transcribed will, court minute book entries are appended to the will file, but only for entries that provide additional information. Where no will exists and there is no transcription of estate file documents, a separate file is created with all court minute book entries. This file is accessed in the same way as wills. Please note that court minutes do not exist for sessions starting with December 1740 and extending through the March 1751 session. There are other, smaller gaps in the court minutes as well. You should also know that some court minute entries are out of sequence. For instance, an inventory may be introduced by an executor and later there is an entry for appointment of that executor. Clearly the court minutes were entered at some time after the fact. And many court minute entries that should be there are not. Sometimes there may be only one court minute entry referencing a particular estate, and that might be for the division of the estate, which is one of the last actions to occur.


For probate records to be published here, they must have Tyrrell County roots. The objective of an abstract is to capture the genealogically significant information. A rule of thumb is "When in doubt, don't throw it out". Some suggested guidelines for extracting information submitting records are:

- List estate papers chronologically.

- Type names in bold type.

- Guardian Bonds - include names of children; name of deceased (if given); guardian; bondsmen; date.

- Guardian Accounts - include names of children; guardian; time period covered; date of accounting; any significant genealogical info.

- Administration Bond - include name of administrator; deceased; bondsmen; date.

- Inventory of estate - include name of deceased; date of inventory; person(s) that took inventory; date; listing of slaves names, if any.

- Account of Estate Sale - include date; list of all buyers; person who filed account. (Number of purchases by each buyer and what they bought can also be revealing in some cases.)

- Division of Estate - include devisees; relationship to deceased, if given; inheritance.

- Petitions, summons, bills, etc. - extract/summarize, to include all genealogically significant info. Bills that have no significant info should be skipped. In some cases there would be tons of them.

- Slave information - always included.

If you have an probate record you would like to post here, please email me and attach the record.

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Updated January 17, 2018
Gordon L. Basnight