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Inheritance in Ontario: the book

Cover of Inheritance in Ontario by Jane E MacNamaraInheritance in Ontario:
Wills and Other Records
for Family Historians

A new book by Jane E. MacNamara
Published by Dundurn and the Ontario Genealogical Society, 2013

Whether your ancestor left hundreds of acres of land, money, or a few modest belongings, the records created when those legacies were distributed can provide valuable clues to family connections, relationships, and just how your ancestors lived.

Inheritance in Ontario will help you determine whether your relative’s will was proved in the Court of Probate, surrogate courts, or another court, and navigate the finding aids to locate surviving estate files and other complementary records at the Archives of Ontario, local courthouse or archives, or through Not every Ontario estate was handled by a court, however, and land records, newspapers, and manuscript collections can also help you discover “who got what”.

Here’s a taste of what’s inside:


  • Value of records of inheritance for family history
  • Understanding Ontario geography

CHAPTER 1: Where to Look, and What You Might Find

  • Which court do I look at?
  • Where are the records kept?
  • Terminology
  • How to understand and analyze what you find

CHAPTER 2: Early Records of Inheritance, 1763 to 1793 or Thereabouts

  • Notarial records for “Western” Quebec: locations and descriptions of surviving records
  • Prerogative court records, including an index of all names of parties involved (much more comprehensive than other studies of this period)

CHAPTER 3: The Court of Probate, 1793 to 1858

  • History of this superior court
  • Guide to finding estate files, registers, and other associated records

CHAPTER 4: The Surrogate Courts, 1793 to 1989, and More Recent Estates

  • History of the surrogate courts, including the transition from Districts to counties
  • Records at the Archives of Ontario—and elsewhere
  • Guide to finding estate files and the many allied records to complete the story
  • Surrogate clerk’s records and guardianship records

CHAPTER 5: Records of Inheritance in the Land Registry Office

  • Understanding abstract indexes and general registers
  • Following the index references to land registry and court documents

CHAPTER 6: Other Records of Inheritance

  • Probate records for Ontarians in other jurisdictions
  • Records of inheritance found in newspapers
  • Heir and devisee commissions
  • Manuscript collections and the records of inheritance that they contain

Part of the Genealogist’s Reference Shelf Collection
5.5 X 8.5 inches, softcover, 144 pages
Comprehensive index
Published by Dundurn and the Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-45970-580-7

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