How to copy 19th century Wills from the Hong Kong Probate Registry | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

How to copy 19th century Wills from the Hong Kong Probate Registry

My great-great grandfather, Andrew Johnston, died in 1896 in California, but lived and worked in Hong Kong.  Probate was granted for him in Hong Kong and I'd love to see a copy of his Will.  I've emailed Hong Kong Probate Registry who have replied saying that an application for a deceased's Will "can be made by or with the consent of the grantee of the probate".  As that person is long gone, I wondered if this was the end of the road, or has anyone managed to obtain a copy of a 19th century Will from Hong Kong Probate Registry?  Many thanks.


 I went in person to the Public Records Office in Kwun Tong where the records are kept. You fill out a form and they get permission from the relevant Gov department.  I was not related to the person whose probate I wanted to see. No problem.

Thanks very much for this - sounds like I will only be able to obtain a copy in person (I'm in the UK).  We are so used to being able to access such documents online in the UK!  Best wishes.

It would be worth finding out if the Public Records Office in Hong Kong has a copy of your relative's will by first searching their catalogue

The above link gives instructions. You might also search the Carl Smith Index cards (link given on Gwulo)  Carl Smith often gave details of probate.

Unfortunately the wills kept at the High Court were destroyed during WW2 but the PRO seems to have copies of some. If you find that they do, it would be worth emailing them personally to see whether they would send you a scanned copy as a special favour.

Thanks - that's really helpful.  Yes, Andrew appears several times in the Carl Smith cards, but no trace of the Will/probate.  Andrew Johnston is one of those elusive ancestors!  Best wishes.

In my experience the path to accessing wills/probate is via the Public Records Office. At least you haven't been told that the document no longer exists. If you can't find it in the PRO catalogue it's  still worth emailing them direct to make sure -  The catalogue entries for Wills are usually only available to view on the PRO premises. As my surname is now different to my ancestor's, I was asked to provide brief background information and my reason for wanting to view the document. I did this with scans of birth and marriage certificates and a hand drawn family tree. I was then given permission to view the document. I wouldn't refer to your previous correspondence. The regulations on protection of personal data seem to have been tightened up recently.

That's very helpful - thank you.