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Wills & Admons (Ireland)

Nature of Source

Details of legacies left by the deceased. Before 1858, probate was dealt with by Church of Ireland courts, either the Prerogative Court, the Diocesan court or the Consistorial Court for which indexes are available. After 1858 probate was dealt with by a new civil court known as the Principal Registry based in Dublin and a number of regional District Probate Registries. Admons or Letters of Administration were issued when a person died intestate. Women generally did not make will but many widows and spinsters did.

Most pre-1900 deposited wills were destroyed by the 1922 shelling of the Public Record Office located in the Four Courts building in Dublin, marking the beginning of the civil war. However, some paper indexes exist for pre-1858 wills. Copies of wills made between 1858 and 1922 were kept by the District Probate Registries and so survived. Those covering the years between 1858 and 1900 have been microfilmed. Many wealthy Irish owned property in England and those wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury before 1858 are housed at The National Archives in Kew. The William Betham abstracts cover the years up to 1800. Sir Arthur Vicars complied an index based on the Betham abstracts which is widely available online or on CD. The other important work containing indexes is the 'Indexes to Dublin Grant Books and Wills, 1270-1800 and 1800-1858' which is available on CD. These and other abstracts and indexes are held at the Genealogical Office The Office of the Chief Herald, the National Archives of Ireland and Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

See Also

Surname Origins and Distribution

Where Found

National Archives of Ireland (Wills and testamentary records)
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) (Wills and Testamentary Records)
Society of Genealogists (Irish Collections including abstracts of destroyed Irish Prerogative Court wills, 1536-1800 made by Sir William Betham and abstracts of wills made by W J Welply)
Irish Genealogical Research Society (Transcripts or abstracts of wills and administrations)
Friends Historical Library, Dublin (Quaker wills)
Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland
Linen Hall Library
Principal Registry in Belfast
Probate Office in Dublin

Period Covered

1500 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Name, address, occupation and place and date of death of testator; Inventory and value of moveable possessions, but not land held; Names of family members and relationships; Names of executors and witnesses.

Further References

Will Extracts and Indexes  
Clare, Wallace. A Guide to Copies & Abstracts of Irish Wills: Clearfield, 2005  Buy Now on Amazon
Eustace, Beryl & Goodbody, Olive (eds). Quaker Records, Dublin, Abstracts of Wills: Clearfield, 1992  Buy Now on Amazon
Eustace, Beryl, P. & Ellis, E. Registry of Deeds, Dublin: Abstracts of Wills 1708-1832: Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1954-1984  Buy Now on Amazon
Gibson, Jeremy: Probate Jurisdictions: Where to Look for Wills: Federation of Family History Societies,1985  Buy Now on Amazon
Phillimore, William & Thrift, Gertrude. Indexes to Irish Wills: Five Volumes in One: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2011 (1909-20)  Buy Now on Amazon
Vicars, Arthur (ed). Index to the Prerogative Wills Of Ireland 1536-1810: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1989 (1897) (Available online at the Internet Archive)  Buy Now on Amazon
Family History Guides  

Adolph, Anthony. Collins Tracing Your Irish Family History: HarperCollins, 2007

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Begley, Donal. Handbook on Irish Genealogy: How to Trace Your Ancestors and Relatives: Heraldic Artists, 1984

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Connell, Gretta. Tracing Your Westmeath Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Corrigan, Mario &  Durney, James & Kiely, Karel. Tracing your Kildare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Davis, Bill. Irish Ancestry - A Beginner's Guide: FFHS, 2001

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Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scottish-Irish Ancestral Research: GPC, 1981 (1962)

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Franklin, Margaret. Tracing your Limerick Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Grenham, John. Irish Ancestors, A Pocket Guide to Your Family History: Gill & Macmillan, 2004

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Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: Gill & Macmillan, 2011

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Hamrock, John. Tracing your Roscommon Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon

Kinealy, Christine. Tracing Your Irish Roots: Appletree Press, 2009

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McCarthy, Tony. The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1991

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McCarthy, Tony & Cadogan, Tim. Tracing Your Cork Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Ancestors in Northern Ireland: A Guide to Ancestry Research in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: Stationery Office, 1997

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Maxwell, Ian. Researching Armagh Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Maxwell, Ian. Researching Down Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. How To Trace Your Irish Ancestors: How To Books, 2009

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Maxwell, Ian. Your Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2008

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2010

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Meehan, Helen & Duffy, Godfrey. Tracing Your Donegal Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Basic Guide to Irish Records for Family History: Clearfield Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Tracing Derry-Londonderry Roots: Clearfield Company, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Connor, Michael H. Tracing your Kerry Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 1994 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Dowd, Peadar. Tracing your Galway Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon

Ouimette, David. Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide: Ancestry.com, 2005

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Paton, Chris. Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide For Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2013

Prochaska, Alice, Irish History from 1700: A Guide to Sources in the Public Record Office: British Records Association, 1986

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Raymond, Stuart. Irish Family History on the Web: The Family History Partnership, 2007

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Roulston, William. Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2005

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Ryan, James. Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History: Flyleaf Press, 1997

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Ryan, James & Smith, Brian. Tracing Your Dublin Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Ryan, James. Tracing your Sligo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian. Tracing your Mayo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian & Kennedy, Gerry. Tracing Your Clare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon

Stewart, Alan. My Ancestor Was Irish: A Guide to Sources for Family Historians: Society of Genealogists, 2012

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Other  
Bradshaw's Railway Map Great Britain and Ireland 1852: Mapseeker Publishing, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Connolly, S.J. The Oxford Companion to Irish History: Oxford University Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon
Coogan, Tim, Pat. The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Dickson, R.J. Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, 1718-1775: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1976 Buy Now on Amazon
Grenham, John. The Little Book of Irish Clans and Tartans: Book Sales, 1995 Buy Now on Amazon
Robinson, Philip. Plantation of Ulster: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Paul & Turner, Keith. Railway Atlas of Ireland Then & Now: Ian Allan Publishing, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Websites

www.from-ireland.net/gene/wills.htm (Irish Wills and Deeds, what is available for research?)
www.ancestry.co.uk/learn/library/article.aspx?article=2515 (Probate in Ireland, from 1858, by Sherry Irvine)
www.from-ireland.net/genealogy/Wills-%26-Deeds-Explanation (Wills, Administrations and Deeds Explanation)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/records/wills (Guide to wills and will abstracts)
www.ancestrysolutions.com/Genea101%20Prob.html (Guide to probate records)
www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/will_calendars/history_of_probate.htm (History of probate)
www.proni.gov.uk/your_family_tree_series_-_07_-_wills_and_testamentary_records.pdf (Family Tree Series Leaflet 7 - Wills and Testamentary Records)
www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/index.html (Irish Genealogy Toolkit will guide you to your Irish ancestors)
www.irishtimestraining.com (Online Tracing your Irish Ancestors Course designed and presented by the genealogist John Grenham. The 11 modules will give you the tools and techniques to comprehensively trace your Irish family history. The online tutorials will provide you with a wide-ranging guide to all the records, resources and research techniques you will need)
www.irishcentral.com/roots/Searching-your-Irish-roots-online---Genealogy-sites-101-128100108.html (A guide to Irish genealogy websites and how to search on them, by Kate Hickey & Jordana Kozupsky)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse (A county-by-county listing of relevant records)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/counties/civilmaps/index.cfm (Interactive map of Civil parishes for Irish counties with a summary of sources covering each civil parish)
www.rootsweb.com/~nirwgw (Information on Northern Irish counties and available resources)
www.iar.ie (Irish Archives Resource: The site contains information about archival collections open for public research in Ireland from many organisations, societies, political organisations and businesses)
https://familysearch.org/learningcenter/lesson/getting-started-in-irish-genealogy/594 (FamilySearch.org: Learning Center Online Genealogy Course: Getting Started in Irish Genealogy. Lecture designed to acquaint beginning genealogist with strategies and sources for getting started in Irish genealogy)
www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/irish-records-what-is-available/church-records (Irish Genealogy: Research in Ireland: Irish Records: What Is Available?)
www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/irish-genealogical-research-getting-started/how-to-start-your-family-history (Irish Genealogy: How To Start Your Family History)
www.cyndislist.com/ireland.htm (Ireland genealogy links)
www.irelandgenweb.com (Information on Irish counties and available resources)
www.rootsweb.com/~fianna (Fianna Guide to Irish Genealogy)
www.thecore.com/seanruad (IreAtlas Townland database)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/placenames (1851 General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, parishes and Baronies of Ireland)

Online Databases

www.nationalarchives.ie (National Archives of Ireland: Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1920. Up to 1917, the Calendars cover the whole of Ireland but since 1918 they cover only the 26 counties in the Republic. Scanned browsable copies of wills proved in the principal and district registries for 1922 to 1982 are available in pdf format via the NAI catalogue. In addition, entries between 1935 and 1949 can be individually searched using the online catalogue. For guidance on searching the catalogue for the browsable images see the entry at the genealogy blog British GENES and for direct links to each year again visit British GENES)
www.findmypast.co.uk
(Ireland, Original Will Registers 1858-1920. The dataset contains over 181,000 records and forms the largest collection of surviving wills for post-1858 Republic of Ireland. The registers come from will books created by the district courts and held by the National Archives of Ireland. The collection includes wills from Northern Ireland until 1917)
www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/will_calendars.htm (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland Will Calendars. Searchable index to the will calendar entries for the three District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry, with the facility to view the entire will calendar entry for each successful search. Indexes without images cover the years 1858-1919 and 1922-1943. Digitised images of entries from the copy will books covering the period 1858-1900 are available online)
www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/proninames.htm (The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland Name Search: Index to pre-1858 wills found in various collections in PRONI and a selection of diocesan will and administration bond indexes. See website for date and place coverage)
www.sog.org.uk/search-records (SoG Data Online: Irish will abstracts compiled by Lorna Rosbottom. Members of the Society of Genealogists are able to view these records for free via their existing membership. Non-members can carry out free surname searches but will need to join the society to view the full record details)
www.ancestry.co.uk (Northern Ireland Will Calendar Index, 1839-1943)
www.ancestry.co.uk
(Quaker Records, Dublin, Browsable Abstracts of Wills)
https://familysearch.org (Ireland, Calendar of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1920. Each record contains a summary of the will and probate information which includes the name of the deceased, address, occupation, beneficiaries, date of death and value of the estate)
www.thegenealogist.co.uk (Irish Wills Index 1536-1810)
Ulster Ancestry Free Genealogy Pages (Donegal Will Index, Diocese of Raphoe, 1684-1858)
www.familyrelatives.com (Index to Prerogative Wills of Ireland, by Sir Arthur Vicars; Quaker Records Dublin Abstracts of Wills; Indexes to Irish Wills)
www.findmypast.ie (Findmypast Ireland a partnership between Eneclann and findmypast: Wills, 13th century up to 1858)
www.findmypast.co.uk
(Deputy Keeper Of Ireland, Index To The Act or Grant Books, and To Original Wills, Of The Diocese Of Dublin 1272-1858; Index Of Irish Wills 1484-1858; W.P.W. Phillimore & Gertrude Thrift, Indexes To Irish Wills 1536-1858; Sir Arthur Vicars, Index To The Prerogative Wills Of Ireland, 1536-1810)
www.ancestry.co.uk (Tax, Criminal, Land & Wills records; Irish Records Extraction Database including abstracts of approximately 1,000 Irish wills. See web site for more Irish will indexes)
www.genealogy.nationalarchives.ie (National Archives Genealogy Website: Soldiers’ Wills, 1914-1917. Details of the wills of Irish enlisted and non-commissioned soldiers from the thirty-two counties of Ireland who died in the First World War while serving in the British Army providing free access to transcripts and original images)
www.ancestryireland.com (Variety of indexes, abstracts and calendars)
www.failteromhat.com (Quaker will abstracts)
www.irishancestors.ie/?page_id=5392
(Irish Genealogical Research Society: Index of Townlands, 1901: Searchable database of over 64,000 townlands in Ireland which are ancient land divisions measuring from just a few acres to several hundred and still in use today)

CD Roms

Genealogical.com (Indexes, abstracts and transcriptions)
S & N Genealogy Supplies (W.P. Phillimore's Index to Irish Wills, 1500's-1800's, Irish Wills 1536-1810, Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858)
Archive CD Books (Sir Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810; Indexes to Irish Wills)
Eneclann (Sir Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810; Index to the Act or Grant Books and to Original Wills of the Diocese of Dublin; Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858)
The Parish Register Transcription Society (Index to Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810)
Flyleaf Press (Index of Wills & Marriage Licenses for Dublin Diocese up to 1800)