With more than 70,000 wills available, we are proud to present a helpful asset to Irish record research. The vast majority of Ireland's testamentary records (wills, administrations, probates, etc.) were lost in destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) in 1922 - but not everything. Staff at the PROI (now the National Archives of Ireland) have spent the last 82 years trying to recover from that loss, and today there are thousands of testamentary records again, although they are not always easy to find. It became clear that an index to these records was needed, to make it easier for researchers to locate what is available. The Irish Wills Index aims to answer that need.
Questions asked: - Testator (Last) Name - Testator Given Name - Document Type - Document Status - Date of Will - Where Granted/Proved - Executor Surname - Executor Given (Name) - Executor Address - NA Reference - Volume Name
Why This collection is valuable:The current index covers records at the National Archives of Ireland (future extensions will feature sources from other archival repositories), and is only concerned with records that survive in more than index form, ie where original documents, copies, transcripts, abstracts or extracts exist. (Two sources, however, will have to await future publication. These are the Betham Abstracts and the Groves Papers. The former almost exclusively relate to Prerogative wills pre-dating 1800, which have been indexed by Sir Arthur Vicars.)
The index covers the years up to 1858, when the whole testamentary system was fundamentally overhauled. Prior to this the established church (the Church of Ireland) had authority over all testamentary matters, including proving wills, grants of probate and administrations. This took place at the local diocesan or consistorial courts in each Diocese. There was also a central Prerogative Court, under the authority of the Archbishop of Armagh as Primate of Ireland, which dealt with testamentary matters where the deceased was likely to be from the wealthiest sector of Irish society.
'The Probates and Letters of Administration Act (Ireland)' of 1857 (20 & 21 Vict. c. 79), which came into force in January 1858, removed control from the Church of Ireland and placed it in the hands of the state. Thereafter all probates and administrations were granted at the Principal Registry in Dublin and District Registries throughout the country.