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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Irish Wills Indexes [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2003.
Original data: Phillimore, W. P. W. Indexes to Irish Wills. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing, 1970. Five volumes in one. Originally published in London, 1909-1920.

About Irish Wills Indexes

This database is a five-volume series of indexes to Irish wills. Each entry lists the individual's name, address, and the year the will was probated. The following is a list of which dioceses are found in each volume and the years for which there are indexed wills

Volume I:

  • Diocese of Ossory, 1536-1800
  • Diocese of Leighlin, 1652-1800
  • Diocese of Ferns, 1601-1800
  • Diocese of Kildare, 1661-1800

Volume II:

  • Diocese of Cork & Ross, 1548-1800
  • Cloyne, 1621-1800

Volume III:

  • Diocese of Cashel & Emly, 1618-1800
  • Diocese of Waterford & Lismore, 1645-1800
  • Diocese of Killaloe & Kilfenora, 1653-1800
  • Diocese of Limerick, 1615-1800
  • Diocese of Ardfert & Aghadoe, 1690-1800

Volume IV:

  • Diocese of Dromore, 1678-1858
  • Exempt Jurisdiction of Newry & Mourne, 1727-1858

Volume V:

  • Diocese of Derry, 1612-1858
  • Diocese of Rahoe, 1684-1858

For information about researching Irish probate records see the extended description below, and Sherry Irvine's two part article Probate in Ireland, printed in the Ancestry Daily News in October and November 2000.

Until 1858 the church was responsible for proving (i.e., establishing the validity) of wills. Within each Church of Ireland diocese there was a Consistorial Court which proved wills of those who had been residents within the diocese and whose property was also within the diocese. However, if the testator's property in another diocese was over £5 value, the will was proven by a Prerogative Court, which was the responsibility of the Archbishop of Armagh.

After 1858, wills were proved in probate districts, and a principal registry was established in Dublin to handle local wills, as well as those cases which could not be decided within a single district.

Most of the actual will documents (of all types) were destroyed in the fire at the Public Records Office in 1922. The records which are now available are of three types:

Wills
Only a few wills survived the PRO fire, but further wills and copies have since been obtained and form the current NAI [National Archives of Ireland] collection. The PRONI [Public Records Office of Northern Ireland] also has an extensive collection, and a microfilm of the card index is available in the LDS [Family History Library].

Will Abstracts
Many local or family historians have examined wills of certain families or areas over the centuries. Their notes on the contents of these wills, called abstracts, are available in the NAI and/or other libraries.

Will Indexes
The major set of index to Irish wills are the books originally used in the PRO as a guide to finding the wills among their collection. These are now in the NAI. The indexes to consistorial wills survived the fire, although some were damaged. These are in the NAI and are arranged alphabetically by family and Christian name; they give the address (in some cases the occupation) and year of probate. The indexes to consistorial wills have been published in various places.

Taken from: Ryan, James G., "Wills, Administrations, and Marriage Licenses," Irish Records: Sources For Family and Local History. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997.

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