Day 3 - Wills at the National Archives

National Archives of Ireland - Bishop Street

This will be (hopefully) a short blog so I can get back to transcribing the records I've found over the past few days. One of the problems I have is taking photos of records and not getting around to transcribing them and entering my research reports into my database. When I finally get around to it, I sometimes have problems deciphering my notes. I promised myself that this year I wouldn't wait. If you think that some of these blogs are long, it's because I use them to write my research reports. It's in writing that I see what I might have missed and can add additional items to my to do list. Even though I'm working on a different family, hopefully you'll understand the methodology to apply it to your own research.


Today is my last day for much personal research as the researchers began arriving today and the rest of the group will be in tomorrow. I spent the morning at the National Archives. Located on Bishop Street, it's in a modern building that opened in the 1990s. This is the successor to the Public Records Office. Currently appointments are required and you must have a Reader's Ticket (you can now apply for this online). Since you will be requesting documents rather than scanning open shelves, you need your Ticket Number to order the documents. Hopefully, you've used the online catalog to identify what you need. Most of what you will find are original manuscripts. Here's a hint...you're not likely to find your ancestor named in the Catalog unless they were wealthy, famous or infamous. When using the Catalog, search on the locality or the name of the landlord. You might find your ancestor's name in an estate record of their landlord. Although the National Archives does have some private deposits, they mainly have records created by or for the government.

For most records you submit an Order Docket and if the material is onsite it will be delivered within about 15 minutes. However, I was interested in Wills which are kept at The Four Courts and have to be ordered up (they are currently asking for 3 days notice). I had submitted a request through their website last week so the documents would be waiting for me.

1858 is the dividing point for Wills. Prior to that Wills and Administrations were probated by the Church (Church of Ireland). You can read about that here. After 1858 the processing of Wills and Administrations (Admons) became a Civil function. The Calendar of Wills from 1858-1922 is in an online database at the National Archives website. Wills from the Probate Registries were to be sent to the Public Records Office after 20 years...therefore most wills prior to 1900 were lost in the Public Records Office fire. Sometimes you'll get lucky with late 19th century wills. I requested three wills and got two...the third one was from 1898 and didn't survive. One had a handwritten original will which left everything to "his dear wife" in trust for his children. Nowhere in the two page will did he provide the name of either his wife or children, disappointing! The second was an Administration for a Spinster. The administrator was identified a her brother, George of Cornageeha. That locality was of interest to me, but all I learned was that she was a spinster, 40 years old (born 2 years before civil registration) and she died in an Asylum in Sligo...I need to get her death certificate. I was allowed to take photographs of the documents with my cell phone...you need to first request permission from the Duty Archivist. Since the online index only goes to 1922, I did find a couple of other wills of interest and requested those. I was told they would be available on Tuesday. The Archives currently is open from 10:00-1:00 and 2:00-4:30.


I spent the afternoon transcribing some documents from yesterday and at 5:00 was honored to be invited to participate in Genealogy: Live at Five with Fiona Fitzsimons of the Irish Family History Centre. Fiona is in the third year of doing this broadcast on Facebook every Friday. What fun and she invited me back in October.


Tomorrow and Sunday each of the participants will be doing a half hour consultation with the Irish Family History Centre, as well a visiting EPIC. Hopefully I can convince some of the group to write up their thoughts on that experience.


Happy Hunting!

287 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All