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    1. [SE-KENTUCKY] Searching Irish Wills Before 1858
    2. Margo Spoor
    3. from Fort Wayne Library   Searching Irish Wills Before 1858 by John D. Beatty *************************************** Wills, as every genealogist knows, are an excellent tool for researching one’s ancestry. In the case of Ireland, probate research is considerably more challenging, in part because the original copies of most early wills were burned in 1922 during the Public Record Office fire. However, not all wills were lost. Sometimes the originals were copied by genealogists, and those abstracts survive. In other cases, Irish lawyers or solicitors made copies of wills for court cases, and those copies have since been deposited in either the National Archives of Ireland or in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Furthermore, many indexes of wills survive, so that even if the full text of a will is no longer extant, it is at least possible to determine whether a will for your ancestor once existed. Irish wills were filed in two kinds of ecclesiastical courts before 1858, because the official Church of Ireland had jurisdiction over probate matters. When someone died and all of their property holdings were contained in a single diocese, the will was probated in that diocesan court. If the testator had holdings of sufficient value in more than one diocese, the will was probated in a prerogative court. The majority were of the former category. A useful “Index to Irish Wills” (941.50004 P54i), edited by Phillimore and Thrift, lists diocesan wills from the seventeenth century through 1858. This five-volume set is divided by diocese and arranged alphabetically by testator. Volume 1 covers Ossory, Leighlin, Ferns, and Kildare. Volume 2 covers the combined Diocese of Cork and Ross, as well as Cloyne. Volume 3 includes Cashel and Emly, Waterford and Lismore, Killaloe and Kilfenora, and Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe. Volume 4 covers Dromore, Newry, and Mourne. Volume 5 covers Derry and Raphoe. A number of other dioceses are not represented in the series. Wills from the Diocese of Dublin through 1800 are indexed in the “Appendix to the Twenty-sixth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records” (941.50004 Ir216p), while a similar “Appendix to the Thirtieth Report” indexes those from 1800-1858. Prerogative wills are listed in Arthur Vicars’ “Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810” (941.5004 V66in). Some wills also were recorded in the Registry of Deeds, and those dating from 1708 to 1832 have been abstracted in P. Beryl Eustace’s three volume “Abstracts of Wills” (941.50004 Ir24r). Be sure to check online in the new e-Catalogue of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland ( or in the Origins Network’s “Irish Wills Index 1484-1858,” to which the Genealogy Center subscribes, to see if an abstract of a will exists. Many of the prerogative wills were abstracted by Sir William Betham and are available on microfilm from the Family History Library. Finally, John Grenham’s handy guide, “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” (941.5 G865t), provides a list of additional sources for surviving will indexes and abstracts. Margaret Spoor

    03/12/2009 02:56:49