The only complete list of surviving wills and other testamentary records at the National Archives of Ireland. It contains information relating to every part of Ireland (north and south).

What is the Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858?

The vast majority of Ireland's testamentary records (wills, administrations, probates, etc.) were destroyed in the explosion that engulfed the Public Record Office of Ireland during the early stages of the Irish civil war in 1922. As near complete as that obliteration was, not everything was incinerated. Several volumes of original will and grant books, which had been used as cover against gunfire during the battle survived. More importantly the staff at the National Archives of Ireland (the successor organisation to the PROI) have spent the intervening years trying to recover from that loss. Today there are many thousands of wills again, gathered from private deposits, abstracts created by researchers prior to 1922, and replacement archives. But they are difficult to find. For this reason Eneclann’s first digitisation project was to create an index to what records had survived and been gathered at the National Archives of Ireland.

What records are included?

This index only includes records at the National Archives of Ireland 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 transcripts, 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 when the testamentary system was removed from Church control, and taken over by civil authorities.

Several NAI catalogues and lists were used in compiling this index, as well as two significant contemporary indexes, as follows:

Card Catalogues:

Testamentary

Charitable Donations and Bequests Will Extracts

Crossle Abstracts

Jennings Abstracts

Thrift Abstracts

Contemporary Indexes:

Inland Revenue Administration Registers 1828-1839

Inland Revenue Will Registers 1828-1839

Users should consult the explanations of NAI Reference Numbers to find out more about what collections are dealt with in these finding aids.

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:

Type Explanation
Will 55% the documents listed in this dataset are wills. A will is a legal document drawn up to determine the inheritance of a person's property after their death.
Grant of Probate 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.
Administration If there was no will, or the will could not be proved, the courts would grant an Administration on an estate.
Marriage License Bond/Grant 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 an 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 types of documents to find out more.

What information is included in this index?

For every entry in the dataset there is an original document worth looking at. This original record is at the NAI and can be requested by using the NAI Reference number. Alternatively a copy can be ordered online [**put system in place].

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.
  • their address
  • 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.

This index includes all the information recorded in the NAI catalogues and lists.

Acknowledgements & Credits

With special thanks to the Archivists and Staff at the National Archives of Ireland