by Linda Jonas, March 2003" http://www.fxgs.org/british_sig_probate.htm
" English, Irish, and Welsh Probate Records before 1858
Before 1858, probate was the responsibility of the Established Church, even if your ancestor was a member of another church. Wills could be proved in the court of an archdeacon (archdeaconry court), a bishop (commissary or consistory court), or an archbishop (prerogative court), and there even some other courts with probate jurisdiction. There is no nationwide index for these early records, so you must determine the court in which the probate occurred.
To determine English pre-1858 probate courts, the best guides are Pre-1858 English Probate Jurisdictions compiled by the Genealogical Department of the Family History Library. There are colored maps for each county in England. The maps show the probate jurisdictions within the county. In case you don't find your ancestor's probate record in the nearest, most logical court, there are also tables for each county showing which courts to check and in which order to search them. Look at the map to find the court that covered the area in which your ancestor held property. If you do not find his probate record, consult the table for that county to find other courts. These probate guides are available on microfiche and are called Hand list of English probate jurisdictions, of filmed and printed probate records. They're on FHL fiche 6026312 (90 fiche). The bad news is that the microfiched guides are in black and white, but the maps are color coded. You can still use them if you determine the original probate jurisdiction from The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, and then use the microfiched probate jurisdiction tables to locate other courts.You can easily locate a Welsh will by using the indexes prepared by the National Library of Wales . . ."
ENGLISH PROBATE JURISDICTIONS - Google Search
a work in progress:-
FamilySearch.org - Family History Library - English Probate Jurisdiction Maps and Guides
Find a Probate Court
If you know the name of the jurisdiction, you can search for the associated courts. If you don't know the name of the jurisdiction, the maps can help you find the name.
Essex Probate Jurisdictions Map (pdf file, 1.45 MB)
London Probate Jurisdictions Map (pdf file, 360 KB)
View Probate Jurisdiction Guides
New jurisdiction maps will replace these guides in the near future.
Cambridgeshire, Series A, Number 10 (rev 1976) (pdf file, 1.36 MB)
Kent, Series A, Number 10 (rev 1976) (pdf file, 1.45 MB)