IRL-CORK-L ArchivesArchiver > IRL-CORK > 2004-05 > 1084935379
From: Kae Lewis <>
Subject: Re: Cork wills
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 22:56:19 -0400
I thought it might be helpful to add some comments about searching for Irish
wills when you do not live in Ireland and have no access to Dublin
facilities, as excellent as they are. If you have access to a FHC (Family
History Center belonging to the Mormon LDS church) then you should not have
any difficulty locating a will or will extract if it exists. I will explain
how that works.
But firstly look at the National Archives webpage which lists the main
sources for their collections of wills and extracts of wills. For those of
you who may not know what an extract of a will is, it is rough handwritten
genealogical notes written by someone, usually the chief Herald of Ireland
or a dedicated genealogist who has read the will before it was destroyed in
1922. They tended to abstract only the information about family
relationships given in the will and seldom made any notes about who
inherited what or even the value of the probate. These extracts or
abstracts are notoriously difficult to read with very poor handwriting and
often containing cryptic and tantalizing notes that are hard to make any
sense of. Sometimes they consist only of a roughly sketched family tree for
the two or three generations covered by the will with few and sometimes no
dates for births etc given. To be fair, this is probably because such
details were not mentioned in the original will and the writers had no idea
at the time that their rough personal notes would go on to form the basis of
will records for all the generations to come.
If you have found the will reference you want in one of the many indexes to
Irish wills available, you should try writing directly to the National
Archives, Bishop street, Dublin 8, Ireland. I have actually done this but
received from them on at least one occasion, not an actual will but one of
It is also possible to get the National Archives will index on CD: called
'Index to Irish wills 1484 - 1858' published by Eneclann:
Many of the Cork wills were not actually in the Public Record Office in 1922
when it burned and so survived the fire. For example my 2x great
grandfather's Cork will of 1892 survived intact, as did his daughter's 1921
will. But the wills of my Cork ancestors from 1869, 1837 and 1795 did not
survive although they are listed in the above index. As far as I can tell,
the only way to find out if a will actually survived the 1922 fire is to
write and ask the National Archives. All too often you will find a will in
National archives index and yet can trace neither the original will nor an
abstract. That means it was burned before anyone ever read it and made
notes on it. The Wills most often indexed were those belonging to important
wealthier families whose members had the leisure time to pursue the subject
of genealogy and those who possessed a family crest known to the Chief
So after trying the National Archives and having no luck in finding an
intact will, you next have to look for an abstract. The best source of will
extracts is the Genealogical Office in Dublin:
And the best way to view their records is via the wonderful films of the FHC
nearest you. Just about all the most important manuscripts in the
Genealogical Office are on film at the FHC and can be ordered from Salt Lake
City. Below is the webpage for their catalogue online. Do a Place search
and enter 'Ireland' as the place. Then go to the records for 'Probate
records' and you will find a dizzying array of Irish will extracts available
Of course the films cannot be ordered online but require a personal visit to
a FHC first to order the film you need and then to read it.
An important publication which includes P. Beryl Eustace's index of Will
abstracts in the Genealogical Office is 'A Guide to the Genealogical Office,
Dublin' by John Greenham and published in 1998. I obtained my copy of this
book by writing to the National Library of Ireland book shop:
However many of the manuscripts of the Genealogical office of Ireland,
including the will abstracts have been indexed on a marvelous CD compiled by
Virginia Wade McAnlis. I obtained my copy by writing directly to the
author: Virginia Wade McAnlis, 82 Gunn Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362 -9108,
USA, Email: .
Some of the most important of the Will abstracts available are the Betham
Will Extracts (Sir William Betham was a Chief Herald of Ireland in the first
half of the 19th century.) These are available on LDS Film #100103 - 100112
and indexed on the McAnlis CD.
Others are the Burkes' wills: LDS Films #227867 - #277900
and the genealogical abstracts by Gertrude Thrift starting with LDS Film
#2214981, both with indexes.
There is another 'super index' to available Irish wills by Bangerter et al
on LDS Film # 1145963, 64, 65 and 1145972
Index films for all the Genealogical Office records, which includes wills,
is also on LDS Film #0100103 item 1 and film #0100223 item 5
And a final source of wills that I will deal with here are the Registry of
The vast majority of these films from the LDS church collection are actually
deeds relating to the lease of land. However as you go through the indexes,
every now and again you will see an entry such as 'Thomas Jones His will.'
If you have the luck to find one of these deeds for your ancestor, it is as
good as finding the original will. You have only to write down the index
number written beside the entry and then order the appropriate film from the
same LDS collection to obtain a copy of the will.
> From: "Jan Fortado" <>
> Date: Sunday, May 16, 2004 6:34 PM
> Subject: question on which LDS film to order
> I need to follow up on an LDS film for a will of a Denis Gallagher from Co.
> Cork. Although I realize most wills burned, I also know that if there was
> information in a will pertaining to land, copies of these will exist
> somewhere else. About ten years ago I followed the process for finding such
> a will, but I can't remember how I did that.
> The information I have from an LDS film is that Denis Gallagher from
> Boherash, Co. Cork, had a will filed in 1811. It was in BAy 1A, Tray 28,
> Number 5.
> Does anyone recall what the next step is for me to see if there is still a
> copy of the will? I know the bay, tray and number are significant.
> Thank you for any help.