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Index to Printed Irish Will Calendars 1878-1900

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This database provides specific information including surname and first name of testator, county in Ireland or overseas country of residence and death, date of death and year of probate on around 151,000 individuals for all of Ireland.

Notes on Source

Testamentary jurisdiction was transferred from the ecclesiastical to the secular courts in 1857 and some thirteen district probate registries were established throughout Ireland as well as a principal registry in Dublin. From 1858 onwards each year these agencies published an annual list of probates and administrations arranged alphabetically by testators.

These publications called Irish Will Calendars provide four or five line entries for each testator giving the full name, address and occupation of the individual, date and place of death, date and place of probate, names of executors and their relation to the deceased as well as an estimate of the value of the estate.

The volumes for the period 1878-1900 containing details of over 151,000 testators have been indexed by the Foundation with the help of trainees working under a Youth Training Project in the mid 1980s. Indexes produced in this way are treated with disrespect even derision in some quarters but checking has shown an exceptionally high level of accuracy and consistency.

This index provides the name of the testator, date of death, county or country of residence/death and year of probate.

5,213 of the testators were resident in England, 814 in USA and 319 in Australia (including 58 women; the relatively high proportion of female testators is a feature).

For the vast majority of wills probated in the district probate registries copies of the wills from 1858 (and occasionally much earlier because probate was often taken out long after death) should be available in the National Archives, Dublin and also the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (where there are also copy wills for Cos. Donegal and Monaghan as well as the counties of Northern Ireland).

We are grateful to the staff of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland who facilitated the Foundation trainees when working on the set of printed calendars available in the reference room. Typing of all corrections in the index has been done by Heather Graham.

- Brian Trainor, Research Director, December 2000

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