Wills are a marvellous source of rich and uniquely personal information. Tax and probate records can tell you about your relatives' earnings and wealth, and wills can give you an invaluable insight into where that money went, and what (and sometimes even who!) was precious to your ancestor.
Dating back nearly 400 years, this amazing collection reveals intimate details about your ancestor's life and possessions. Did they own a flem for bloodletting? Did they list many servants among their beneficiaries, or friends, or even employees? There's so much social history to be discovered in these records, which can also tell you a great deal about the area your ancestor lived in.
Wills and inventories comprise the main probate records, which are supplemented by administrations, accounts and other documents created when disputes arose. These can offer a further insight into your ancestor's personal and professional relationships, and their significance in the local area.
Before 1858 all wills and administrations were dealt with the Church of Ireland. Most wills were proved, with administrations granted in the appropriate local Diocese. However, if the deceased had assets of greater than £5 in more than one diocese, the case was sent to Dublin to be dealt with by the Archbishop's Prerogative Court. Sir Arthur Vicars indexed all these Prerogative wills up to 1810. This included over 40,000 Irish wills, almost all of which were destroyed in the 1922 explosion at the Public Record Office in Dublin, meaning Vicars' work is often the only surviving evidence of the wills processed by this court. This index provides the name of all those who left a will, their address, rank/occupation and the date of probate, making it an invaluable resource for finding your Irish ancestors!
This collection was born in 1846 after the New Jersey Historical Society persuaded the state legislature to start collecting documents relating to the state's history. Its 13 volumes contain abstracts for thousands of wills which include valuable genealogical details that can paint a picture of testators' lives, and the social conditions of the time.
Abstracts provide a succinct breakdown of the most important elements of a will, including dates, names, places of residents, details of spouses or other family members, the date the will was proved, its executors, the value of an estate, and descriptions of bequests.
This database is a wonderful genealogy tool, indexing all the notices in the Queensland Government Gazette relating to intestacies, insolvencies and wills (and, where found, other associated notices). Several Lunacy notices have also been included, as these were handled by the same office as Intestacies and Insolvencies.