A reference guide to Irish historic wills



Irish Wills: A Reference Guide

What follows is an attempt to provide a series of checklists and guides to the various testamentary sources. Because of the changes in testamentary jurisdiction in 1858, it is divided into two sections, dealing with records before and after that date. Section 1: Pre-1858 includes

Section 2: Post-1858 covers

  • (1) the yearly calendars and
  • (2) original wills and transcripts.

Section One: Pre-1858

  • 1. General Indexes
    • 1. Card indexes, NAI search room, published on CD-ROM by Eneclann, Irish Records Index, Vol. 1: Index of Irish Wills, 1484-1858, Dublin: 1999. Online at FindMyPast.ie and www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1047420.
    • 2. Pre-1858 Wills Index, PRONI reading room and part of the 'Name Search' at nidirect.gov.uk/proni.
    • 3. Indexes to consistorial wills and administrations, diocese by diocese. See below for details.
    • 4. Indexes to Prerogative Wills.
      • (a) Sir Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810 (1897) [Online: www.archive.org, FindMyPast].
      • (b) Ms. index, 1811-58, NAI, PRONI [Not online].
    • 5. Index to Prerogative Grants, NAI, PRONI [Not online].
    • 6. Index to Wills in the records of the Land Commission, card index, NLI, PRONI.

  • 2. Surviving Will and Grant Books
    • 1. Prerogative Will Books: 1664-1684, 1706-1708 (A-W), 1726-1728 (A-W), 1728-1729 (A-W), 1777 (A-L), 1813 (K-Z), 1834 (A-E). NAI. Online at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie and FindMyPast.
    • 2. Prerogative Administrations: Grants 1684-1688,1748-1751, 1839; Day Books, 1784-1788. NAI [Not online].
    • 3. Consistorial Will Books: Connor (1853-1858); Down (1850-1858). NAI. Online at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie and FindMyPast.
    • 4. Consistorial Grant Books: Cashel (1840-1845); Derry & Raphoe (1812-1821); Ossory (1848-1858). NAI [Not online].

  • 3. Abstracts and Transcripts
    • (i) General collections
      • 1. Betham abstracts from Prerogative Wills, to c.1800.
        • (i) Notebooks: NAI, LDS BFA 592945 - 592948 - part online, see Chapter 5);
        • (ii) Sketch pedigrees: GO and PRONI, LDS BFA 100103 - 100112. See Vicars above.
      • 2. Betham abstracts from Prerogative Administrations, to c.1800. NAI (notebooks); GO (alphabetical listing). See bit.ly/2MyIeFh
      • 3. Indexes to Irish Will Registers, 1828-79 (Inland Revenue). NAI. Indexed in Testamentary Catalogue and at FindMyPast.ie.
      • 4. Irish Will Registers, 1828-39 (Inland Revenue). NAI. Indexed in Testamentary Catalogue and at FindMyPast.ie. LDS BFA 101028 - 101038
      • 5. Indexes to Irish Administration Registers, 1828-79 (Inland Revenue). NAI. Indexed in Testamentary Catalogue and at FindMyPast.ie.
      • 6. Irish Administration Registers, 1828-39 (Inland Revenue). NAI. Indexed in Testamentary Catalogue and at FindMyPast.ie. LDS BFA 101028 - 101038
      • 7. 'Index to Will Abstracts at the Genealogical Office'. Analecta Hibernica, 17; GO Ms. 429.
      • 8. P.B. Phair and E. Ellis (eds.), Abstracts of Wills at the Registry of Deeds (1708-1832), 3 vols, IMC, 1954-88. Online at irishmanuscripts.ie.
      • 9. Abstracts of wills of Irish testators registered at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1639-98. NLI Ms. 1397, online at the UK National Archives.
      • 10. Abstracts of miscellaneous eighteenth-century wills made by the Protestant clergy and their families. RCBL. (For the years 1828-39 see also NLI Ms. 2599.)
      • 11. Leslie Collection. 981 wills. NLI Ms. 1774. See also NLI Pos. 799.
      • 12. Ainsley Will Abstracts. GO 535 and 631.
      • 13. Wilson Collection. NLI Pos. 1990.
      • 14. Welply Collection. 1,500 wills, 100 administrations. RCBL. Indexed in the Irish Genealogist, 1985/6.
      • 15. Richey Collection, NLI Mss. 8315-6.
      • 16. Upton Collection, Royal Irish Academy. Also NLI Pos. 1997. Principally families in Co. Westmeath, with some from Cos. Cavan and Longford.
      • 17. MacSwiney Papers, Royal Irish Academy. Mainly Cos. Cork and Kerry.
      • 18. Westropp Manuscripts, Royal Irish Academy. Mainly Cos. Clare and Limerick.

    • (ii) By Surname
      • Burke:GO Ms 707
      • Butler:Wallace Clare, The Testamentary Records of the Butler Family, 1932. NLI Ir 9292 b 11
      • Dawson: Almost all eighteenth-century Dawson wills. NLI Ms 5644/5
      • Domville:NLI Mss 9384-6
      • Drought: Crossley Abstracts, NAI. Also GO 417/8
      • Gordon: GO Ms 702. Abstracts of most Irish Gordon wills
      • Griffith: NLI Ms 8392
      • Greene: See NAI Card Index
      • Hamilton: Co. Down. PRONI T.702A
      • Hill: GO Ms 691-2
      • Jones: Wills, deeds and leases of the Jones family of Leitrim. LCL. Also LDS BFA 1279269.
      • Kelly GO Ms 415
      • Manley: NLI D.7075-86. The Manley family of Dublin and Offaly
      • Mathews: Prerogative wills and administrations. PRONI T.681
      • O'Loghlen Co. Clare. NLI Pos. 2543
      • Skerrett: Irish Ancestor, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1975.
      • Young: NLI Pos. 1276.

    • (iii) By Diocese

      A word of warning is necessary: the identification of a collection of abstracts or transcripts under a particular diocese does not necessarily mean that all the wills it covers belong to that diocese. In the case of the larger collections especially, it is just not possible to be absolutely precise about the areas covered.

      • Armagh
        'Four Wills of old English merchants of Drogheda, 1654-1717', JCLAS, Vol. 20, 2, 1982.
        'Alphabetical list of the prerogative wills of residents of Co. Louth up to 1810'. NLI. Ms. 7314.
        'Index to wills of Dundalk residents'. JCLAS, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 113-15, 1942.
      • Cashel and Emly
        White, J.D., 'Extracts from original wills, formerly in the consistorial office, Cashel, later moved to Waterford Probate Court', Kilkenny and South of Ireland Archaeology Society Journal, Ser. 2, Vol. 2, Pt 2, 1859; Vol. 4, 1862.
      • Clogher
        Swanzy Collection, NAI T. 1746 (1C-53-16). Copies also at the Genealogical Office (GO 420, indexed in 429) and RCBL. Abstracts from Clogher and Kilmore Will Books, Marriage Licence Bonds, Administrations and militia lists. Principal names include Beatty, Nixon, Armstrong, Young, Veitch, Jackson, Mee, Noble and Fiddes.
      • Clonfert
        GO 707:Numerous abstracts, mainly relating to wills mentioning Burke families
      • Cloyne
        Welply Abstracts (4 Vols.), RCBL. Indexed in IG, 1985/6.
        'Index to Will Abstracts at the Genealogical Office', AH, 17; GO Ms. 429.
      • Connor
        Connor Will Book, 1818-20, 1853-8. NAI. Online at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie.
        Stewart-Kennedy notebooks, will abstracts, many from Down & Connor. Principal families include Stewart, Clarke, Cunningham, Kennedy and Wade. Trinity College Library & PRONI. See also NLI Pos. 4066. Online in the PRONI eCatalogue - search reference T700/1.
      • Cork and Ross
        Welply Abstracts, (4 Vols), RCBL. Indexed in IG, 1985/1986
        Caulfield transcripts, mainly sixteenth century, RCBL. See also JCHAS, 1903/4.
        Notes from wills of Cork diocese, 1660-1700. NA M. 2760.
      • Derry
        Amy Young, 300 Years in Inishowen (NLI Ir 9292 y 1). Contains 46 Co. Donegal wills.
      • Down
        Down Will Book, 1850-58. NAI and PRONI. Online at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie.
        Stewart-Kennedy notebooks, will abstracts, many from Down & Connor. Principal families include Stewart, Clarke, Cunningham, Kennedy and Wade. Trinity College Library & PRONI. Online in the PRONI eCatalogue - search reference T700/1.
      • Dublin and Glendalough
        Lane-Poole Papers, NLI Ms 5359 (abstracts)
        Abstracts of wills proved in Dublin diocesan court 1560-1710, A-E only. GO Ms 290
      • Elphin
        Wills and Deeds from Co. Sligo, 1605-1632. NLI Ms. 2164.
      • Kildare
        Betham Collection, NAI. Abstracts of almost all Kildare wills up to 1827. Also NLI Pos. 1784-5. LDS microfilm 101027 Items 2-3. Images online at FamilySearch.
      • Killaloe and Kilfenora
        O'Loghlen wills from Co. Clare. NLI Pos. 2543.
        Wills and administrations from Cos. Clare and Limerick. Westropp manuscript volume, 3A 39. RIA.
      • Kilmore
        Swanzy Collection, NAI T. 1746 (1C-53-16). Copies also at the Genealogical Office (GO 420, indexed in 429) and RCBL. LDS BFA 100176 Item 3. Abstracts from Clogher and Kilmore Will Books, Marriage Licence Bonds, Administrations and militia lists. Principal names include Beatty, Nixon, Armstrong, Young, Veitch, Jackson, Mee, Noble and Fiddes.
      • Leighlin
        Carrigan Collection. NLI Pos. 903. (952 wills, mainly Ossory and Leighlin.) Indexed in IG, 1970.
        Abstracts from Ossory and Leighlin Admons. IG, 1972.
      • Limerick
        R. Hayes, 'Some old Limerick wills', JNMAS, Vol. 1, pp. 163-8; Vol. 2, pp. 71-5.
        Wills and administrations from Cos. Clare and Limerick. Westropp manuscript volume, 3A 39. RIA.
      • Meath
        Alphabetical list of the prerogative wills of residents of Co. Louth up to 1810. NLI Ms. 7314.
        G. Rice, 'Extracts from Meath priests' wills, 1658-1782', Ríocht na Midhe, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1967, pp. 68-71.
      • Ossory
        Carrigan Collection. NLI Pos. 903. (952 wills, mainly Ossory and Leighlin.) Indexed in IG, 1970.
        Abstracts from Ossory and Leighlin Admins., IG, 1972.
        T.U. Sadlier, Abstracts from Ossory Admins., 1738-1884. NAI.
        Calendar of Administrations, Ossory. NA T. 7425.
        GO 683-6. Walsh-Kelly Notebooks. Will abstracts, mainly from Ossory.
      • Raphoe
        Amy Young, 300 Years in Inishowen (NLI Ir 9292 y 1). Contains 46 Donegal wills.
      • Tuam
        GO 707. Numerous abstracts, mainly relating to wills mentioning Burke families, 1784-1820.
      • Waterford and Lismore
        Wills relating to Waterford. Decies 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23.
        Jennings Collection. NAI and Decies (above).
        166 Waterford wills and administrations. NLI D. 9248-9413.

      • 4. Consistorial Wills and Administration Bonds Indexes, Published and in The National Archives

        Pre-1858 Down Diocesean Will Index.

        Online = genealogy.nationalarchives.ie and FindMyPast
        ph = Phillmore publication (online at FindMyPast)
        No Administration Bonds Indexes are online

        Ph: 1690-1800; O'K., Vol. 5 1690-1858) 1782-1858 (IA, 1975)
        Diocese Wills Admon Bonds
        Ardagh 1695-1858 [Online](also IA, 1970) 1697-1850
        Ardfert and Aghadoe 1690-1858 [Online](O'K, Vol. 5 1782-1858)
        Armagh 1666-1837 (A-L) [Online] 1677-1858 (M-Y) [Online]
        Drogheda District 1691-1846
        Cashel and Emly 1618-1858 [Online] (Ph: 1618-1800) 1644-1858
        Clogher 1661-1858 [Online] 1660-1858
        Clonfert 1663-1857 [Online] (IA, 1970) 1771-1857 (IA, 1970)
        Cloyne 1621-1858 [Online] (Ph.: 1621-1800 O'K., Vol. 8 1547-1858) 1630-1857 (O'K. Vol. 6)
        Connor 1622-1846 (A-L) [Online]
        1636-1857 (M-Y) [Online]
        1636-1858
        Cork and Ross 1548-1858 [Online]
        (Ph. & O'K. Vol 8 1548-1800; JCHAS, 1895-8, 1548-1833)
        1612-1858 (O'K. Vol. 5)
        Derry 1612-1858 [Online] (Ph.) 1698-1857
        Down 1646-1858 [Online] 1635-1858
        Dromore 1678-1858 with Newry & Mourne, [Online] 1727-1858 (Ph.) 1742-1858 with Newry & Mourne 1811-45 (IA, 1969: Newry & Mourne)
        Dublin and Glendalough 1536-1858 (RDKPRI, Nos 26 & 30) 1636-1858 (RDKPRI, Nos 26 & 30)
        Elphin 1798-1858 (fragments) [Online] 1726-1857
        Ferns 1601-1858 (fragments) [Online]
        1603-1838 (F-V) [Online]
        1615-1842 (unproved, W only)
        (Ph.: 1601-1800)
        1765-1833
        Kildare 1661-1858 [ part Online?]
        (Ph.: 1661-1800; JKAS, 1905: 1661-1858)
        1770-1848 (JKAS, 1907: 1770-1858)
        Killala and Achonry 1756-1831 (fragments) 1779-1858
        Killaloe and Kilfenora 1653-1858 (fragments) [Online] (Ph.: 1653-1800) 1779-1858 (IA, 1975)
        Kilmore 1682-1858 (damaged)
        Smythe-Wood, Patrick, Index to Kilmore diocesan wills (Ballycastle, 1975. Ir 941 p 48)
        1728-1858
        Leighlin 1642-1858 [Online]
        (Ph.: 1642-1800)
        1694-1845 (IA, 1972)
        Limerick 1615-1858 [Online] (Ph.: 1615-1800) 1789-1858
        Meath 1572-1858 (fragments partial transcript 1635-1838) [Online] 1663-1857
        Ossory 1536-1858 (fragments) [Online] (Ph.: 1536-1800 1660-1857
        Raphoe 1684-1858 (damaged) [Online] (Ph.) 1684-1858
        Tuam 1648-1858 (damaged) [Online] 1692-1857
        Waterford and Lismore 1648-1858 (damaged) [Online] (Ph.: 1648-1800) 1661-1857

      Section two: Post 1857

      • 1. Yearly Calendars of Wills & Administrations, 1858 to date.
        These provide name, address and occupation of the deceased; place and exact date of death; names and addresses of grantees. They are on open access in the search room of the National Archives and PRONI. A consolidated index, 1858-1877, is only in NAI. Index and images are online at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie, though there are some exceptions:
        • The probate entries after 'McW' (1859) and for all of 1860 were inadvertently overlooked by the LDS microfilming project and so are not part of the online collection. Microfilming stopped at 1917. So all entries between 1917 and 1923 and probate entries for parts of 1859 and all of 1860 are only to be found in the NAI hard copies.
        • The PRONI website nidirect.gov.uk/proni has a separate digital transcript of Calendar entries for the district registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry, which cover what is now Northern Ireland. It should be kept in mind that before 1922 parts of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan were included in these districts. Where a district registry will book full transcript exists for a corresponding calendar entry, the PRONI site links directly to an image of the transcript. The PRONI online testamentary record-set is complete for the six counties of Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1965.
        • Will calendars for the Republic from 1923 to 1982 are online in unindexed PDF format, downloadable from the NAI site nai.adlibhosting.com. The best guide to their location on the site is on the website of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations , www.cigo.ie.
      • 2. Original Wills or Transcripts
        • (a) Card index, NAI search room.
        • (b) Surviving Will and Grant Books in NAI, online at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie and FindMyPast as follows:
          • (i) Principal Registry Wills: 1874, G-M [Online] Principal Registry Wills: 1878, A-Z [Online] Principal Registry Wills: 1891, G-M [Online] Principal Registry Wills: 1896, A-F [Online] Principal Registry Wills, Dublin District: 1869, G-M [Online] Principal Registry Wills, Dublin District: 1891, M-P [Online] Principal Registry Wills, Dublin District: 1901, A-F [Online]
          • (ii) Principal Registry Grants: 1878, 1883, 1891, 1893 [Online]
          • (iii) District Registry Will Books:
            • Ballina, 1865 to date [Online to 1900]
            • Cavan, 1858-1909 [Online to 1900]
            • Cork, 1858-1932 [Online to 1901]
            • Kilkenny, 1858-1911 [Online to 1894]
            • Limerick, 1858-1899 [Online to 1896]
            • Mullingar, 1858-1901 [Online to 1896]
            • Tuam, 1858-1929 [Online to 1900]
            • Waterford, 1858-1902 [Online to 1894]
        • c) District Registry Will Books in PRONI and online at nidirect.gov.uk/proni via the Will Calendar search:
          • Armagh, 1858-1965 [Online to 1919]
          • Belfast, 1858-1965 [Online to 1909]
          • Londonderry, 1858-1900 [Online to 1899]


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