The National Probate Calendar for England and Wales is now available on multiple websites (Ancestry.co.uk, Gov.uk, FindMyPast). Not all of these sites are fully name-indexed. I would like to know the best practice for citing an entry such that it can easily be located on any of these websites or (theoretically) on the shelf.
I believe that the only information you need to locate an entry is the year that probate was granted and the name of the deceased.
The calendars were produced annually, listing all grants of probate for the year alphabetically by the name of the deceased. Each calendar is split into multiple volumes, but that split is alphabetical by name.
Personally I normally reference a page, for which I use the year, the first letter of the surname (to determine the correct volume) and the page number.
I would suggest that the best way is to imagine someone trying to locate the entry on a microfiche version. If they can do that using your citation, then surely they can do it using another website even if it is only partially indexed.
I believe that you need to specify the following: - name of the deceased - date that the probate was granted (this and the next item should take care of multiple occurrences of a name in the same year) - which probate office granted it (the Principal Probate Registry is in London, by the way, except when it was evacuated to Llandudno during WW2) - whether it was a grant of probate or letters of administration (both for understanding and because the two types were originally recorded separately in the Calendar)
You should probably also specify what year the Calendar is for, as the Calendar records grants in the previous year, which is not obvious.
To assist someone in evaluating the source, it would be sensible to also record the date of death.
Note that which Probate Registry was used seems to be a function of the solicitor's personal preference.
I guess that the creator of the Calendar varies over the years from the Court of Probate to .... I think that I found the names of the different courts on the TNA website perhaps in their guide on probate.