CIGO Guide to Irish Calendars of Wills and Administrations

There are now a number of different ways of searching the Calendars of Wills and Administrations for different time periods. Since May 2013, most of these Calendars have been made available online.

These Calendars date from 1858 when responsibility for probate matters was transferred from the ecclesiastical courts of the Established Church to the civil courts.

This guide should be read in conjunction with the information on wills and testamentary records and the will calendar search guide (dated April 2012) on the website of the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and the information on the history of probate on the website of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

Note that the years in all cases below refer to the year in which a grant was issued and not to the year of death.

1858-1877 (32 counties):
A database containing most entries from the printed Calendars of Wills and Administrations for this period and all entries from a consolidated index for the period 1858–1877 can be searched by filling in this search form which will display results ten at a time. Alternatively, the database can be searched here which will display results 100 at a time. In principle, each grant should generate two results in this search, one with the full entry from the original Calendar, the other with abbreviated details from the consolidated index. However, the initial transcription of the Will Calendars has inadvertently skipped wills proved in 1859 for testators with surnames from M'Wha to the end of the alphabet and all wills proved in 1860. It is still necessary to consult the hard copy Will Calendars in the NAI for these entries. Administrations for 1859-1860 are included in full.
1878-1917 (32 counties):
The search links above for 1858-1877 can also be used for the period 1878-1917. As there is no consolidated index for this period, there will be only one search result for each grant. The NAI website confirms that up to 1917, the Calendars cover the whole of Ireland, but since 1918 they cover only the 26 counties in the Republic.
1918-1922:
Although the afore-mentioned database is entitled 'Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1922' as of 4 June 2013 it includes only one grant issued in 1921 and only two grants issued in 1922. There are many entries for 1918-1920, which all appear to be taken from a card index covering only the Principal Registry in Dublin and the District Registries in the 26 counties.  However, some of the Principal Registry entries between 1918 and 1922 may relate to testators with addresses in what became Northern Ireland in 1922. Due to gaps in the digitised records for these years, it is advisable to check the original hard copy Calendars in the NAI and/or PRONI.
1858-1919 (District Registries of Armagh, Belfast & Londonderry):
The PRONI Will Calendars database 1858-1943 includes entries relating to the District Registries of Armagh, Belfast & Londonderry, which cover what became Northern Ireland. However, up to 1921 it also includes border areas of what later became the Republic of Ireland, as Armagh and Londonderry probate districts extended into parts of Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. These entries, abstracted from the all-Ireland Calendars of Wills and Administrations, can be found on the PRONI website. As of 3 June 2013, part of 1921 had still to be added to this database, as did all of 1920. These three district registries were abolished in 1921. NB: for the pre-1922 period, this database does not note any grants issued by the Principal Registry (which was based in Dublin).
1922-1943 (Northern Ireland):
In 1922, a new Principal Registry was established in Belfast to serve Northern Ireland. The PRONI Will Calendars database is complete, for the six counties of Northern Ireland, for the years 1922-1943.
1923-1982 (Republic of Ireland):
Individual calendars for this period can be downloaded one by one in PDF format by clicking on the relevant year in this table:

1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935,

1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948,

1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956 , 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961,

1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974,

1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982

The desired name of the deceased can be located by scrolling through the downloaded file in a PDF viewer. Unfortunately these PDF files are very large and are not searchable for administrators, executors or other fields.
Individual pages from Will Calendars can also be downloaded as TIF files, for example the first page of the 1923 Calendar is here. Any selected page can be downloaded by right-clicking this link, copying the URL and changing the year and page towards the end of the URL.
The above links to the scanned images of the Calendars of Wills and Administrations refer to the website of the National Archives of Ireland (NAI). They note all grants of probate and administration issued during the years 1923-1982.
1935-1949 (Republic of Ireland):
Additionally, searching in the years 1935-1949 can also be done via the NAI website given that each entry in the calendars for those years (amounting to approximately 160,000 entries) has been entered into the NAI catalogue. Enter the name of the deceased in this search form.
1983-1987 (Republic of Ireland):
From 1983 the Calendars were computerised and the hardcopy version discontinued. Data from the computerised Calendar has been used by the National Archives to create an entry for each will and administration packet. Probate papers generally transferred to the National Archives on a twenty year incrememt. They will usually appear in the NAI catalogue with a NAI reference 21 or 22 years after the date of issue of the grant.
1988-date (Republic of Ireland):
According to the NAI website, current practice is that original wills and administration papers are transferred to the National Archives once the grant is 20 years old. Thus, for grants issued in the last twenty years or so, application should be made to the Probate Office.

Two short 'how to use' guides to the subset of Calendars where were available as of March 2012 appear on Claire Santry's blog and on Chris Paton's blog.

As of 3 June 2013, the Calendars of Wills and Administrations were scheduled to become available also at FamilySearch.org. More information here.

   

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