How to look for records of... Death duties 1796-1903

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

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This is a brief guide to researching death duty records from between 1796 and 1903. Many people left estates which were liable for death duties, and from 1858 there should be a death duty record for all those worth more than £20. The majority of records which still exist can be found online or at The National Archives.

Death duty records can be complicated and difficult to understand, so some patience may be required when researching them. See our guide to Death duties 1796-1903: further research for more information.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • the name of the person
  • a geographical location to focus your search
  • an approximate date of death

After 1903, death duty registers were replaced with a system of individual files which were destroyed 30 years after being closed. There are therefore no registers from after 1903.

What records can I see online?

Indexes to death duty registers (1796-1903)

Search indexes to the death duty registers (IR 27) online at (£). These are indexes to registers held at The National Archives.

Local court records (1796-1811)

Search our website (£) for death duty records (IR 26) relating to wills and administrations dealt with by local courts between 1796 and 1811.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

Death duty registers (1796-1903)

When searching the death duty registers, you may find:

  • a date of death
  • information about beneficiaries
  • the next of kin
  • their exact relationship to the deceased

From 1815, additional information is sometimes included, such as:

  • the date of death of the spouse
  • the dates of deaths or marriages of beneficiaries
  • the births of posthumous children and grandchildren
  • the changes of address and references to law suits

Browse the death duty registers in IR 26 for death duty records. Indexes to these registers are available at The National Archives in IR 27 or online.

For a step-by-step guide on how to do this, see Section 4.2 of our guide Death duties 1796-1903: further research

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Records held elsewhere

The National Archives’ catalogue includes details of collections held by over 2500 archives across the UK. Search our catalogue and refine your results using the filters.

What other resources will help me find information?

Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether the publications below are available to buy. Alternatively, consult The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available at Kew.

Karen Grannum and Nigel Taylor, Wills and probate records: A guide for family historians, 2nd edition (The National Archives, 2009)

Consult Ham’s Inland Revenue yearbook (from c. 1881) for official advice on the process of getting a grant of probate or letters of administration, or of paying death duties.