Prior to 1858 wills were proved in one of two Church of Ireland courts (this applies to all wills regardless of the religion of the deceased):
Diocesan (or Consistory) Court: There was a separate court for each of the 28 dioceses. Most of the original wills were destroyed in the 1922 Four Courts fire but some copies and abstracts do exist. For details of how to find these see the National Archives web site.
The following are the original indexes to wills which were destroyed in 1922
Prerogative Court of Armagh: The wills of the wealthy were usually proved in this court, like the diocesan wills most were destroyed in 1922 but abstracts do exist for the years 1536-1802.
There are also a number of miscellaneous sources, principal among them being the Index and registers made by the Inland Revenue in London (see 'after 1858' below), and the wills of Irish people proved in English courts. Both of these have been filmed by the Family History Centre.
In 1858 the Government assumed responsibility for the probate of wills. Eleven 'district registries' were set up to replace the former consistory courts and a 'principal registry' replaced the Prerogative Court of Armagh (the principal registry also assumed responsibility for counties Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow).
Munster was covered by three district registries:
Each registry transcribed wills and administrations into a book (administrations are court papers relating to people without a will) and sent the originals to Dublin. These Dublin wills were destroyed by fire in 1922 but the district will books have survived and are now held in the National Archives.
The master index "Calendar of the grants of probate and letters of administration made in the principal registry and in the several district registries, 1858-1920" has been filmed by the Family History Library. This comprises 46 microfilm reels starting with FHL BRITISH Film 100965 (the first three films comprise an index to the calendars). The Calendars are arranged by year (of probate) then alphabetically by the surname of the deceased. In addition the FHL has also filmed two London Inland Revenue Office Indexes Irish Will Indexes 1829-79 and Irish Administration Indexes 1829-79.
The Cork district will books (1858-97) have also been filmed, the series comprises 14 microfilm reels starting with FHL BRITISH Film 100929.
For further details and instructions on how to find wills see the National Archives web site.
cronin calendar extracts
Cronin Families of Cork - probate
© 2002 Michael Cronin
Last revision: 15 November 2003