Discover your Irish heritage by searching theIndex of Irish Wills 1484-1858, the only complete list of surviving wills and other testamentary records at the National Archives of Ireland up to 1858. It contains information relating to every part of Ireland (North and South).
Several NAI catalogues and lists were used in compiling this index, as well as two significant contemporary indexes.
Below is an explanation of the National Archives of Ireland reference numbers. The reference numbers can be found on the transcript and can be used when ordering an original document at the National Archives of Ireland. Not all the references are catalogued on their online system.
NAI Reference Numbers
The following are the origin of the main sequences of records used in this index.
|Charitable Donations & Bequests
|Connor Will & Grant Books
|Original diocesan records 1818-1820
|Down and Connor Will & Grant Books
|Original diocesan records 1850-1858
|Irish Administration Registers (Inland Revenue) 1828-1839
|Incumbered Estates Court
|Irish Will Registers (Inland Revenue) 1828-1839
|Killaloe & Kilfenora Court Book
|Original diocesan records, mostly marriages
|Landed Estates Court
|Marriage Licence Bonds for the Diocese of Dublin
|1749-1813, only for surnames beginning with the letter A
|Ossory Grant Book
|Original diocesan records 1848-1858
|Prerogative Grant Books
|Original Prerogative Court records. Mostly 1747-1751 & 1838-1839
|Prerogative Will Books
|Original Prerogative Court records. Mostly 1664-69, 1675-84, 1706-08, 1726-29, 1777, 1813, 1834
|Quit Rent Office. Mainly Wide Streets Commission documents.
|Record Commissioners Transcripts of wills recited on Chancery and Exchequer inquisitions, 1525-1693
|Salved: records that survived the fire in 1922
Types of records
There are several types of documents indexed in the Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858. The following are the main document types that appear in this index.
|Document clearing a debt or obligation.
|The courts granted an Administration on an estate if there was no will, or the will could not be used for any reason. In this index there are three main types of Administration. Most are simple Grants of Letters of Administration to administrators in cases of intestacy (i.e. grants of power to administer estates of persons who had died without having made a will). A smaller number relate to cases where the deceased had made a will that could not be proved, perhaps because the executors were dead or because it was not properly witnessed, and where the court made a Grant of letters of Administration with the Will Annexed. This meant that the administrators were to administer the estate in accordance with the will, even though it could not be proved. In other cases only the Administration Bond survives. This was the surety given by the recipient of a grant of administration.
|Written statement, usually sworn by the applicant(s) for probate or administration, regarding the testator/intestate. These sworn statements were taken before a judge, and mostly concerned the address of the testator/intestate and their effects.
|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.
|Some of the genealogical abstracts are taken from parish registers of baptisms since destroyed in 1922.
|Book of Survey & Distribution
|This source was compiled c. 1700 from the Cromwellian Down Survey which listed owners of land in 1641, and similar surveys from the later 17th century.
|Documents arising from cases before the Diocesan consistorial courts.
|A legal application to suspend testamentary court proceedings.
|Genealogical extracts from nineteenth century census returns, since destroyed in 1922.
|A written summons, usually to an ecclesiastical court.
|A supplement to a will, added by the testator to explain or alter the original contents.
|Authority given to a person (usually by the state or by a judge) to act in some specified capacity. In most cases referred to in these documents, this was to establish the deceased's estate, or to carry out some other investigation on behalf of the testamentary courts.
|Deeds & Titles
|Records concerning property, like sales, mortgages, leases, etc.
|Notes and abstracts of documents compiled by genealogists.
|Grant of Probate
|When a will was proved, probate was granted to the executor or executors named in the will. This meant that the executor had power to administer the estate of the deceased in accordance with the provisions of the will.
|Hearth Money Rolls
|Records of taxation, based on the number of built hearths. These lists were compiled in the seventeenth century.
|Inquisitions post mortem were taken on the death of a land owner during the 16th and 17th centuries to determine the extent and title of their landed estates.
|List of goods, chattels, land, etc., and their value, in the possession of the deceased at their death.
|Marriage License Bond/Grant
|Like administrations, the parties to a marriage licence were required to give a bond of surety. 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. Securing a marriage licence was considered quite fashionable in the nineteenth century.
|This was the financial agreement reached by the couple, or more often their fathers, prior to marriage.
|Records of parliamentary taxation.
|Records concerning the guardianship, wardship or education of minors.
|A will is a legal document drawn up to determine the inheritance of a person's property after their death. Before a will could take effect, it had to be proved in court. Wills were generally proved in the local Diocesan Court, but if a testator owned property valued at over £5 in more than one diocese it was proved in the Prerogative Court in Dublin.