Updated 27 June 1999
Submitted by Jane Lyons and posted here with her kind permission.© Copyright Jane Lyons 1999
Wills will really only be of any use to those whose families who had money....in the abstracts one does see various yeomen and others mentioned as witnesses..but ordinary everyday people did not normally make wills.
For a will to achieve legality it has to be 'proven' by a Probate court. Before 1858 Probate admin was the responsibility of the Church of Ireland and wills were either proven in Armagh or in a Consistorial or Dioscescan court in each Diocese.
The Perogative Court (Armagh) was responsible for proving the wills of poeple whose property was within 2 + dioceses and the property in the 2nd diocese had to be valued at more than five pounds.
A civil probate court system was established in 1857, and this is made up of a Principle registry & 11 probate districts.
Listed below are those districts.
Now, the majority of wills were destroyed in the Fire in the Four courts in 1922. What has been left are indices for some periods for each district, some which survived the fire....there are also the annual calendars of wills and administrations produced by the probate court since 1858, each entry here only included the name, address & occupation of the deceased, date & place of death and to whom probate was granted. A composite index to the calandars for the years 1858-1877 are held in the Nat Archives, Dublin. Those for Northern Ireland from 1918 are held in the PRONI Belfast. As are a complete set of calandars for the whole of Ireland to 1917.
Those wills which survived are indexed in a card system in the Nat Archives of Ireland here in Dublin.
A number of wills had been abstracted prior to destruction, post destruction efforts were made to try and replace those lost working with solicitors, families, anyone who would have had copies. The lists of what remains to be searched for information on wills, genealogists who abstracted wills, where they may have been published is quite long...and I will work though where what is slowly over the next while.
Armagh Probate District:
takes in Co. Louth; Co. Armagh; Co. Fermanagh; Co. Monaghan and part of Co. Tyrone
Belfast Probate District:
takes in Co. Down; Co. Antrim
Londonderry Probate District:
takes in Co. Londonderry (Derry); Co. Donegal and part of Co. Tyrone.
Ballina Probate District:
Takes in part of Co. Leitrim; Co. Sligo; Co. Mayo
Cavan Probate District:
takes in Co. Cavan; Co. Longford and part of Co. Leitrim
Dublin Probate District:
takes in Co. Dublin; Co. Wicklow; Co. Kildare and Co. Meath
Mullingar Probate District:
takes in Co. Westmeath and Co. Offaly (King’s County)
Tuam Probate District:
takes in Co. Galway and Co. Roscommon
Kilkenny Probate District:
takes in Co.Kilkenny; Co. Carlow; Co. Laois
Waterford Probate District:
takes in Co. Wexford, Co. Waterford; and part of Co. Tipperary
Limerick Probate District:
takes in Co. Limerick and part of Co. Tipperary
Cork Probate District:
takes in Co. Cork and Co. Kerry