Gazette Firsts: The history of The Gazette and deceased estates notices

Gazette Firsts Deceased Estates

As the official public record since 1665, deceased estates notices are placed in The Gazette daily. As part of our new 'Gazette Firsts' series, we look through the archives at some of the very first deceased estates notices placed in The Gazette.

What is a deceased estates notice?

When someone dies, the will usually names a personal representative, who is responsible for managing the deceased’s estate (money, property and possessions). If the personal representative(s) is named in the will, they are called the executor(s).

As an executor, you are responsible for dealing with any claims against the estate. After you receive a grant of probate, the law recommends you place a deceased estates notice in The Gazette and a local newspaper to find creditors who are owed money by the estate

deceased estates notice is an advertisement placed in The Gazette which contains the details of a deceased person and the executor/administrator, so that anyone or any organisation owed money by the deceased person's estate can come forward.

Why place a deceased estates notice?

Placing a deceased estates notice demonstrates that enough effort has been made to find creditors before distributing an estate to its beneficiaries (the people who will inherit the estate). This protects the executor from being personally responsible for money owed to any unidentified creditors.

If you don't place a notice and a creditor comes forward after the estate has been distributed, then you may have to pay the creditor yourself.

When was the first deceased estates notice placed in The Gazette?

In effect the earliest deceased estates notice found in The Gazette dates back to 5 March 1681 (Gazette issue 1701) and was for a merchant named William Pennoyer:

“If any persons in England or Wales can claim any Kindred to William Pennoyer of London, Esq; deceased, Feb. 3rd, 1670, they are hereby advertised to put in such their claim, and how they stood related to him by that time, and, in what condition as to their present need, by Certificate under the hands of some of the substantial neighborhood; and to send the same by Post to Mr. Leonard Bates, Scrivener in Cornhil, by the end of May next, because there will be some Money to be divided, to such of them as the Executor and Overseers of the said Mr. Pennoyer shall judge most proper for the same, according to his Will: but it is desired that none of his Kindred give themselves the trouble to come to London, till they hear farther.”

Many of the deceased estates notices placed in early editions of The Gazette were intended to encourage debtors of the deceased to come forward, as well as creditors. In March 1711, a notice was placed encouraging “all Persons that are indebted to the Estate, late of the said Henry Parsons, are forthwith to pay the same to the said William Watson” (Gazette issue 4982). If they did not pay, “they’ll be sued.” A similar notice can be found in October 1724 (Gazette issue 6311): “all Persons that are indebted to the said Robert Ball's Estate, are required to pay the same on or before the 14th November next, to the said Edward Lewis, or they will be sued.”

However, it wasn’t until the enactment of the Law of Property Amendment Act 1859 (“An Act to further amend the Law of Property and to relieve Trustees”) that legislation underpinned the placing of deceased estates notices. The first notices in The Gazette to reference this legislation were placed in September 1859 (Gazette issue 22309), with the first being a woman named Jane Cape:

PURSUANT to an Act of Parliament, made and passed in the twenty-second and twenty-third years of the reign of Her present Majesty, intituled "An Act to further amend the law of property and to relieve Trustees, notice is hereby given, that all persons claiming debts or liabilities affecting the estate of Jane Cape, late of Gloucester-place, in the county of-Middlesex, and of Boulogne-sur-Mer, in France, Widow (who died on the 20th day of December, 1858, and whose Will was proved on the 24th day of February, 1859, by the Reverend George William Brooks, the sole executor named in the Will), are to send in to the said executor, at Boulogne-sur-Mer aforesaid, or to his Solicitors, Messrs. Walters, Roumien, Young, and Walters, of No. 9, New-square, Lincoln's-inn, in the county of Middlesex, their claims against the estate of the testatrix, on or before the 10th day of November, 1859, or in default thereof the said executor will, at the expiration of the above time, .distribute the assets of the testatrix amongst the parties entitled thereto having regard to the claims of which he shall then have notice.”

Though it had been common practice for over two centuries, executors were finally encouraged by law to place deceased estates notices specifically in The Gazette with the introduction of the Trustee Act 1925.

Where can I see deceased estates notices in The Gazette?

You can view all deceased estates notices on The Gazette website.

The Gazette also provides a data service which gives easy access to all deceased estates notices and is used by the likes of local government to check against any council tax arrears, property companies to seek to purchase houses from the estate, and genealogists to find new business. Benefits of The Gazette’s data service include:

  • Bespoke reports - tailored around your specific business
  • Geo-targeted editions - available for specific geographical targeting (National, London, Belfast, Edinburgh)
  • Custom filters - specific custom attributes
  • Data at regular intervals - delivered at a rate to match your business needs (daily, weekly, monthly)

For more information on The Gazette’s data service, contact the team on 01603 985949 or email

How do you place a deceased estates notice in The Gazette?

To place a deceased estates notice in The Gazette, follow these simple steps:

  1. Before you begin: make sure you have at least one of the following:
    • grant of probate
    • letter of administration
    • death certificate
  2. Decide which services you want: as well as placing a deceased estates notice, you can also use The Gazette to place an advertisement in a newspaper that is local to the deceased. There is also a forwarding service for deceased estates, which replaces your address with The Gazette's postal box, so all correspondence can be sent on to you while your address stays private. If you do not use the forwarding service, your address will be recorded in the public domain permanently. View The Gazette's price list.
  3. Once you're ready to place a noticecreate an account or sign in, and then go to 'Place a notice' from the 'My Gazette' dropdown.
  4. Complete the form: select which Gazette edition, then 'Personal Legal' and 'Deceased Estates', and fill out the remaining fields, including uploading the required documentation.
  5. Submit: submit your notice and check out.

Once the deceased estates notice has been placed, creditors have 2 months and 1 day to make a claim against the estate.

See also

Gazette Firsts: The history of The Gazette and insolvency notices

Place a Deceased Estates notice

The duties of an executor: what to do when someone dies

The Gazette and its role during events of national significance

350 years of The Gazette

Find out more

Law of Property Amendment Act 1859 (Irish Statute Book)

Trustee Act 1925 (Legislation)

Publication date: 28 May 2021

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.