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Prior to 1858 all wills and administrations were dealt with by the established church authorities, namely the Church of Ireland, irrespective of whether the deceased was of that religion or not. Most wills were proved/probated, and administrations granted in the appropriate local Diocese. However, if the deceased had assets of greater than £5 in more than one diocese, the case was sent to Dublin to be dealt with by the Archbishop’s Prerogative Court. In 1858 the entire administration of testamentary matters was brought under the jurisdiction of the state, and removed from church control. The 30 Diocesan Consistorial courts and the Prerogative Court were abolished and replaced by 13 Probate Registries and a Central Registry.

Sir Arthur Vicars indexed all these Prerogative wills up to 1810. It deals with over 40,000 Irish wills. Almost all of these were destroyed in the 1922 explosion at the Public Record Office in Dublin. So his work is often the only surviving evidence of what wills were processed by this court. This index provides the name of all those who left a will, their address, rank/occupation and the date of probate. Vicars' publication was based on the transcripts, abstracts and notes taken from the original wills by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms (1779-1853) and is the only index available to his vast collection of genealogical abstracts.

Furthermore, this online edition of Vicar’s publication is even more important because we have incorporated an unpublished supplement compiled in 1914 that corrected all errors and inserted omissions. This additional typescript was compiled by Frank Marsh and includes over 1,200 further entries.