For every entry there is an original document worth looking at. This original record is held at the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and can be requested by using the NAI Reference number. Alternatively, a copy can be ordered online.
Each index entry contains:
Name of the person leaving a will, or being covered by a grant of probate or administration, or the principal party for another record.
Sometimes their occupation
The place where the document was proved (i.e. a diocesan or the Prerogative court).
The names of the executors for almost half the entries, along with their addresses.
The Index of Irish Wills includes records held by the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) in Dublin. It also only includes records where there is a surviving document, like an original will, administration or grant of probate, a certified copy, a transcript, or even abstracts and extracts. This means there is more information to be found on the original records. The index only deals with surviving records up to 1858. After 1858, the work of proving wills and administrations was removed from Church control, and taken over by civil authorities.
This collection was assembled with help from the archivists and staff at the National Archives of Ireland.
This index includes all the information recorded in the NAI catalogues and lists. Several NAI catalogues and lists were used in compiling this index, as well as two significant contemporary indexes, as follows:
Charitable Donations and Bequests Will Extracts
Inland Revenue Administration Registers 1828-1839
Inland Revenue Will Registers 1828-1839
Users should consult the explanations of the National Archives of Ireland Reference Numbers to find out more about what collections are dealt with in these finding aids. These are available in our Helpful information for Index of Irish Wills found in the Useful links and resources.
What types of documents are listed?
There are several types of documents indexed here. Most are wills or other testamentary records (wills, probate, administrations, etc.), but around 10% are not. Marriage licences/bonds and miscellaneous genealogical abstracts make up the majority of these additional records. This material was often included in the NAI testamentary card catalogues because it was genealogically useful, and we saw no good reason to leave them out!
The most common records are:
Will - 55% the documents listed in this collection are wills. A will is a legal document drawn up to determine the inheritance of a person's property after their death.
Other record types include:
Wills had to be proved (authenticated) in court before they came into effect. This happened in the relevant Diocesan Court, except when a testator owned property worth more than £5 in more than one diocese. In those cases, it was dealt with in the Prerogative Court in Dublin. Once a will was proved, the courts issued a grant of probate. Around 6% of these records are Grants of Probate.
If there was no will, or the will could not be proved, the courts would grant an Administration on an estate.
Marriage licences were generally only requested by those who had property or desired privacy from the publication of Banns. Banns were a public notice of intended marriage in order to inform those who may have known of an impediment to lodge an objection.
Please consult our detailed list of the various <a href=https://www.findmypast.com/articles/helpful-information-for-index-of-irish-wills-1484-1858> types of documents to find out more .