Indexes to Irish Wills edited by W.P.W. Phillimore and Gertrude Thrift. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore MD 21202-6687. 1909-1920, reissued 1997. 5 volumes in 1.827 pp. $50 plus $3.50 p&h.

In Ireland there are 34 ecclesiastical dioceses divided into the four ecclesiastical provinces of: Dublin, Cashel, Armagh and Tuam. Each dioceses had its own consistorial court for probate administration prior to 1857. The probate records were destroyed in 1922, during the Civil War, with the destruction of the Four Courts building in Dublin.

Because the probate records have been destroyed the surviving indexes become extremely valuable in determining social and financial status of an ancestor. The indexes also provide clues for checking land records (many of which were not lost in the 1922 fire) for an estate partition and transfers of lease from testator to heir.

Each of the five volumes, bound in this one volume, begins with a map showing diocesan boundaries, sometimes with underlying county boundaries. Indexes are provided for all dioceses within the Provinces of Dublin and Cashel. Five of the twelve dioceses in the Province of Armagh are indexed, but nothing for the province of Tuam is included. Thus 22 of 34 dioceses are wholly or partially indexed. This is important to realize since the promotion description implies that all consistorial courts are indexed, which is not the case.

The book does index over 30,000 wills providing name of testator, parish, county and date of probate. The beginning and ending date for each diocese varies, with the first three volumes indexing wills up to 1800 and the latter two volumes ending with 1858. There is no comprehensive index to this volume, you need to check for your ancestor by individual diocese, although some dioceses are paired together.

This is a valuable resource, especially given the destruction of the original records. However, the geographic and time limitations need to be fully understood.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.4 no.2, 1997