I found my 2x great-grandfather's probate record on Ancestry:


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Robert Edward Fowler
BIRTH 18 FEB 1871 • Leeds, Yorkshire West Riding, England
DEATH 22 MAY 1947 • Harrogate, Yorkshire, England

He had 2 sons: Herbert (moved to Canada) and William (moved to Australia).

What are some reasons that he would not leave any funds to his two sons and instead an accountant? Also, was £4949 a lot of money in that time period?


4 Answers 4


As Tom says in his answer, the people mentioned are the executors of the estate. The record you are looking at is the National Probate Calendar, which is basically a detailed index of probate and administration records each year.

You can order a copy of the actual will, which will usually give much more detailed information on legacies and beneficiaries. A copy of the will can be ordered online from the gov.uk website for just £1.50 (as of April 2020), so it is well worth it.

As to the value of his effects, there are some good converters in the answers at: Converting historic pounds, shillings and pence (£sd) to modern worth?


That does not list the beneficiaries, it lists the people to whom probate was granted, which is the executors of the will. If there had been no will, or if they were not the named executors, then it would say that letters of administration had been granted instead. In either case that is the people in charge of administering the estate not the people that benefit from it.

They might be beneficiaries as well of course, and the widow quite likely is, but the only way to determine that is to order a copy of the will.


As the earlier answers have said, the probate calendar entries list the executors of the will, who are not necessarily beneficiaries.

Having names of non-relatives may be useful for your research as part of the study of a research subject's FAN Club (FAN = friends, associates, neighbors). See QuickLesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle on the Evidence Explained website for a case study.

"Professional" executors such as solicitors, bankers, and accountants may be less useful in determining identity than other acquaintances, but if a street address for the firm is given in the will, it is still interesting to see how far away the firm is from the deceased house, and to track whether other members of the family used the same firm. For researchers with troublesome "same name" problems, this kind of detail might help us separate people with the same names.


As regards the value in today's money, one of the problems is that different things have changed in price at different rates. £4949 would have bought you a very nice house in Harrogate at that time; much nicer than you would get for today's equivalent of £195K. (According to one source, the average price of a house in the UK in 1950 was under £2000). And whether Harrogate house prices have gone up or down relative to other places adds yet another variable.

According to Rightmove, houses in Park Road Harrogate are typically worth £812K today. But houses in North Park Road seem to have been redeveloped or converted into flats, so it's hard to judge.

  • 1
    Number 7 North Park Road doesn't seem to have sold recently enough to have a price online but number 9 is the other half of the pair of semis and sold for £228,000 in 2001 with an estimated current price between 500 and 700 thousand.
    – TomH
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 11:19

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