Irish wills


Wills have always been an extremely important source of genealogical information about the property-owning classes, in Ireland as elsewhere. They provide a clear picture of a family at a particular point in time and can often supply enough details of a much larger network of relationships-cousins, nephews, in-laws and others-to produce quite a substantial family tree. Apart from their genealogical significance, wills can also vividly evoke the way of life of those whose final wishes they record.

Information supplied

The minimum information to be found in a will is:

  • 1. the name, address and occupation of the testator;
  • 2. the names of the beneficiaries;
  • 3. the name(s) of the executor(s);
  • 4. the names of the witnesses;
  • 5. the date on which the will was made;
  • 6. the date of probate of the will.

Specific properties are usually, though not always, mentioned. The two dates, that of the will itself and of its probate, give a period during which the testator died. Up to the nineteenth century most wills were made close to the date of death, and witnesses were normally related to the person making the will. As well as the minimum information, of course, many wills also contain much more, including at times addresses and occupations of beneficiaries, witnesses and executors, and details of family relationships - quarrels as well as affection.
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