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Irish Resources for Family Historians: Wills & Probate

This State Library of South Australia guide highlights resources available at the Library as well as various databases and websites that may assist your search for ancestors in Ireland

Introduction

The Church of Ireland traditionally took care of proving and administering Wills until 1858 when it became a civil matter and the responsibility of the Court of Probate.

Once a will is processed (probated) it becomes a public record and many Wills both pre 1858 and after have been indexed and these indexes placed online.  To learn more see below.

Pre 1858 Wills

Pre 1858 the Church of Ireland was responsible for the proving of Wills and the administration of probate.  This was dealt with via the Diocesan Court.  However, if the estate was worth more than 5 pounds or property was located in more than one diocese this was handled by the the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Armagh. 

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland has a searchable index to pre-1858 Wills and a selection of diocesan Will and administration bond indexes.

Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry

When the Probate Act of 1858 was passed the ecclesiastical courts lost their power and testamentary jurisdiction became a civil matter, the responsibility of the Court of Probate.  As a result, most of the records of the Church of Ireland courts were transferred first to the Principal and District Registries of the new Court of Probate and later moved to the Public Record Office of Ireland (Dublin) when it was established in 1867

Now available are searchable indexes to probated Wills for Belfast, Armagh and Londonderry.  Dates cover the period of 1858 - 1964

Transcripts give details such as address of deceased, occupation, date of death, value of effects, place of death and sometimes names of family members are included.

Wills & Probate Records - Tips & Tricks

Resources available at the Library

Useful Websites

Last Will