Will luck in the online New Jersey probate records?

Will You Have Better Luck in the New Jersey Probate Files?

I’m on a mission to attempt to establish through a paper trail and indirect evidence who the father of John Townley was. I recently decided to jump into searching Wills and Probates. Ancestry and FamilySearch have made accessing these collections so much easier, but I didn’t have the best luck. 

Ancestry.com made finding the Will for John’s potential father Effingham Townley of New Jersey easier. They have a collection entitled New Jersey, Wills and Probate Records, 1739-1991.

I learned of Effingham ‘s five children, one of which is a John Townley. With John being a common name used in the Townley family, I’m not ready to conclude that John in Cincinnati is Effingham’s son John.

Probate Records, 1794-1902; Author: New Jersey. Surrogate’s Court (Essex);
Probate Place: Essex, New Jersey

After finding this will, I decided to an attempt to look up Effingham Townley probate files. I found two entries in the New Jersey Probate Records, 1678-1980 which is a browse-only collection on FamilySearch.

Unfortunately, after looking up the docket reference number, I saw a card that read “File Missing”.

Really? Ugh!

Click on the video to watch.

When I attempted to look up the second reference, the digital scan skips that number entirely. Now, a genealogy community member suggests that I write the county courthouse and look up the probate files using the case number that I have. It’s possible that when the filmer captured the case files, that mine in use elsewhere and thus skipped. If that’s the case, perhaps a courthouse worker can look up my case and send me something.

One can only hope the person was right. We’ll see.

The New Jersey Probate files are online. Hooray! But my ancestors aren't in them. Are yours? #genealogy #ancestry #probateresearch #njresearch #usgenealogy #genealogy101 #beginninggenealogy
If you enjoyed this post, share it on Pinterest.

If you have New Jersey Ancestors, you might have better luck in these two databases. Here’s a video we made to walk you through the research process. 

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

3 thoughts on “Will luck in the online New Jersey probate records?

  1. You might contact Michelle Chubernko on Facebook – she has a New Jersey FB page and is a well-known professional. See https://www.facebook.com/mchubenko

    The available NJ probates start in the 1790s as I recall. FamilySearch, and by extension Ancestry, cannot provide earlier probate records because of an agreement with NJ Archives. As I recall, you can obtain the earlier records, but probably need a pro to dig them out of the archives. On the other hand, there are NJ Will Books for the early probates that have abstracts of the records. I'm pretty sure a search on Ancestry will find them. Been there, done all of that!

    Goodl uck — Randy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *