You can search the 1688-1858 index to wills proved in the Prerogative Court of York free of charge on 4th July 2012.
The Origins Network, which is making the PCY index available free on American Independence Day, says: “Prior to the establishment of a Government-run system for probate in 1858, there existed over 300 church courts where wills could be proved.
“One of the most important of these was the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of York, second only in importance to the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“Wills can have a singular importance when researching earlier ancestors, not only because of the detail they frequently contain about family, relationships, property and place of burial, but because of information that may not be recorded or have survived anywhere else. And of course Wills are one of only a handful of documents of a personal nature which can give some insight into the innermost feelings of an ancestor.”