Probate in England

Since finding dad’s father and researching his ancestors, I have found a couple of fairly recent probate records on Ancestry.

In 1950, dad’s grandmother passed away. Her name was Florence Emily Georgina Bray and this was her second marriage. In her first marriage with William Elvis Allen, who died in 1902, she had 3 children Frank, Ethel and William junior (dad’s father). Ethel died young, Frank never married and William was somewhere in Australia. In her second marriage to Frederick Edward Bray, who died in 1940, she had another 3 children Albert, Kathleen and Charles.

In her probate, she left everything to her daughter Kathleen.

But when her eldest son Frank (dad’s uncle) died in 1978, his probate was different. Both his parents were dead, his only sister was dead and his only brother William was dead, even though he might not have known that. William was a bigamist and when Frank came to Australia in 1930 it is not known if he found his brother who by then was in Tasmania under a different name.

Frank could have left his money to his half sister Kathleen and half brother Albert who were both still living. Instead this is what I have found on Ancestry.

Does this mean his money has gone to the UK Government coffers? I haven’t found any will just this probate notice under the National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administration) 1858-1995.

Florence Emily EVANS

Florence Emily Georgina EVANS was the fifth child born to George and Mary Ann Evans nee LEE. She was born on 2 June 1878 in Croydon, Surrey, England and two years later was baptised on 27 June 1880 along with three other children living at the same address. One was her sister Louisa but I still need to find out if the other two children (surname Dry) were related somehow. [1]


Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: 2809/1/3

Florence’s siblings:

  • Thomas George – born 1871 at Eltham, Kent
  • Albert Edward – born 1872 at Eltham, Kent
  • William Jonathan – born 1874 at Eltham, Kent
  • Alice Maud – born 1877 at Norwood, Surrey
  • Louisa Elizabeth – born 27 Dec 1879 at Croydon, Surrey
  • Frederick Charles – born 1888 at Croydon, Surrey

According to the 1881 census, the family were living at 34 Cross Road, Croydon and the father George was a coachman. Six children in family still living at home. The Dry family had moved out by this time and another married couple, William and Eliza Ridley, were also living at 34 Cross Road.

34 Cross Road Croydon in 2021. Is this the same house the Evans family lived in in the 1880s?

On the 24 August 1885, Florence’s sister Louisa was admitted as an infant to the Salter Hill’s School which was very close to 10 Berridge Street where the family was now living. There is no mention of her transferring from this school and it is found that Louisa died in 1887. Maybe it was an accident while at school. I could find no mention of Florence being at this school. [2]

By the time of the 1891 census, the family were living at 120 Livingstone Road, Thornton Heath and her father was listed as a coachman/groom. Also at home is brother Thomas, a domestic coachman/groom, her brother Albert a plumber, her brothers William and Frederick as well as Florence aged 13.

On 31 January 1897, Florence gave birth to her first child Frank Earnest Evans.

Florence married William Elvis Allen on 5 February 1900 at the Parish Church of Thornton Heath in Surrey. They were both 21 years of age and William was a carpenter. They were both living at 120 Livingstone Road in Thornton Heath. The fathers were George Allen, a bootmaker, and George Evans, a coachman. The witnesses were Florence’s parents. [3]

Between October and December in 1900, Ethel Maud Allen was born, their first daughter.

According to the 1901 census, William, Florence, Frank (now Allen) and Ethel were still sharing a house with George and Mary Ann Evans and two of Florence’s brothers, Albert a soldier and Charles (born as Frederick).

It is at this point that Florence’s life starts to change. Florence was now 6 months pregnant when her husband William died from smallpox at the Croydon and Wimbledon Smallpox hospital on 26 March 1902.  Between April and June 1902, her daughter Ethel also dies – I need to find out if that was also from smallpox. Then on 27 June 1902, her son William Elvis Allen was born.

Florence now has two young children to look after Frank aged 5 and William a newborn without a husband to bring in the money. Hopefully she was still living with her parents who would give her help.

At some stage Frank was put in a boarding school in Croydon but in June 1904, his guardian is now Mary Ann Evans and she is living at 13 Belvedere Road with Frank now attending Woodland Road School in Lambeth. But two months later, he is transferred to the Boys Department. [4]

On 12 April 1905, Florence remarried. Her new husband was Frederick Edward Bray. At the time of the marriage they were both living at 13 Penrith Road. Frederick’s father also called Frederick was a gardener. They were married at St Paul church in Thornton Heath.

13 Penrith Road via Google Streetview, accessed December 2020.

Florence’s children

  • Frank Ernest Evans 1897-1978
  • Ethel Maud Allen 1900-1902
  • William Elvis Allen 1902-1974
  • Albert Edward Bray 1905-1988
  • Kathleen Florence Bray 1906-1995 married name Hansford
  • Charles Frederick Bray 1909-1971

At the time of the 1911 census, Florence was living with her second husband at 124 Livingstone Road. She has three children with him and two of her earlier children living there in four rooms. Her husband Frederick is a general labourer with Croydon Council. Another family, the Osborn couple and a baby, also living at same address are in only two rooms. [5]

In October 1931, a letter from a lawyer in Australia relating to Florence’s son, William’s first wife Emily Daisy Green applying for divorce, was sent to Florence c/- 57 Stanger Road, South Norwood which was the most recent address known to William and Emily.[6]

The 1939 register shows Florence and Frederick living at 31 Ferndale Road, Croydon with her son Frank (still single) from her first marriage. Frederick and Frank general labourers using heavy vehicles. Frederick works with the Corporation of Refuge Destruction while Frank is with Engineering. [7]

In 1940, after 35 years marriage, Florence’s second husband dies and 10 years later Florence also passes 10 October 1950 aged 72. According to the index of wills and administration, Florence leaves £573 4s 3d to her daughter Kathleen. Florence had been living at 35 Furze Road, Thornton Heath at the time of her death. Her son Frank, still single, was living there when he died in 1978. [8]


Sources: All found on

  1. Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: 2809/1/3
  2. London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; School Admission and Discharge Registers; Reference: LCC/EO/DIV08/SAL/AD/008
  3. Certified copy of entry of marriage in my possession, since June 2020.
  4. London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; School Admission and Discharge Registers; Reference: LCC/EO/DIV08/WOO/AD/007
  5. The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911 Enumeration District: 31
  6. Copy of divorce letters in my possession, December 2020.
  7. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1274C, Enumeration District: CLAJ
  8. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995, Surname Range: Aaron-Byworth 1950


William Elvis ALLEN senior

William was the fourth child but the first boy born to parents George James and Mary ALLEN nee SPRY-SHUTE. He was born on 4 May 1881 at 20 Howard Road, South Hornsey, London, England. His father was noted as a shopman. One month later on 3 June 1881, he was baptised at St Matthias Church at Stoke Newington, London, England.

William’s siblings were:

  • 1870 Alice E Spry Shute
  • 1876 Jane
  • 1880 Maud Ellen Mary
  • 1884 Thirza
  • 1887 John Henry
  • 1889 James Ernest
  • 1892 Harold Edgar

William was born after the 1881 census, but his family were living at 65 Spencer Road at South Hornsey, and the head of the family, George, was a boot shop manager. There were three other families also living at this address – John Downs, Isaac Downes and John Allet.

Howard Road (in yellow) and Spencer Road (in purple) intersected and St Matthias Church (green) was at the end of Howard Road.  20 Howard Road in brown.  Distance between church and house no more than 100 metres.

Map of Stoke Newington area where William grew up as a toddler.

For some reason, the whole family moved from north of the Thames at Stoke Newington area to Croydon which is south of the Thames. This was prior to Thirza’s birth as she was born in Croydon and was 6 in the 1891 census.

By the 1891 census, William was now included. The family were living in a yard (Collyers??) near 149 Southbridge Road in Croydon, Surrey, England. His father was now a translator of old boots. His sisters, Jane and Alice, were no longer living with the family.

William is not living with the family at 39 Wilford Road in 1901 where his father was still a translator of boots working under his own account.

By 1897, William had moved to Thornton Heath (about 4km north of Croydon) where a child was born called Frank Earnest Evans. The mother was Florence Emily EVANS. Three years later on 5 February 1900, William and Florence married at the Parish Church at Thornton Heath.

William was a carpenter and both William and Florence could sign their names on the certificate.

120 Livingstone Road, Thornton Heath


Ethel Maud Allen was born to the couple in October 1900. In the 1901 census, William now married and living with wife Florence and two children. William was a carpenter. Also in same house at 120 Livingstone Road is Florence’s parents and two brothers, Albert a soldier and Charles.

Between June 1901 and January 1903, the Metropolitan Health Board were notified of 9484 cases of smallpox from twenty different sites around London.



Florence was pregnant again with William Elvis Allen junior, when her husband died on 26 March 1902. William died of confluent smallpox (16 days) and undecimated? septicaemia and bronchitis at the Croydon and Wimbledon Smallpox hospital. He was aged 24 and a carpenter. Jane Chandler, sister of William Elvis Allen, was informant at his death. She lived at 13 Beulah Grove, Croydon.