CIGO Guide to Irish Calendars of Wills
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
of probate on the website of the Public Record Office of Northern
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
- 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
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.
- 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 &
- 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
- 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 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
- 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
- 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
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
As of 3 June 2013, the Calendars of Wills and
Administrations were scheduled to become available also at
FamilySearch.org. More information here.