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"Amongst the various sources of information open to the genealogist, it is generally admitted that Wills occupy the most important place. From a testamentary document, it is often possible to obtain particulars of three or four generations of a family, besides a general insight into the extent of civilization and social position of our ancestors."
[Sir Arthur Vicars, Office of Arms, Dublin Castle, November 1897]



According to Vicars there are five types of wills:

  1. Prerogative Wills, 1536-1858, deposited in the NAI .
  2. Diocesan Wills, 1526-1858, deposited in the NAI
  3. A limited number of unproved wills dealing with real Property only, recorded from the year 1708, at the Registry of Deeds.
  4. Wills from the Inquisitions (Henry VIII. to George I.); an excerpt of which, with an Index Nominum, is in the NAI.
  5. A few very early wills in the Royal Irish Academy, and in Trinity College Library.

If a person died without leaving a will the Court create one and the resulting document is known as an Administration Grant. There are Prerogative Administration Grants and Diocesan Administration Grants to be considered as well. Vicar's book was first published in 1897 and at the time there would be little interest in wills after 1858 when testamentary jurisdiction was transferred from the Prerogative and Diocesan Courts to the Civil Courts. Wills and Administration Grants are now recorded in 12 different registries. The Cavan District Registry concerns counties Cavan, Longford and parts of Leitrim.

Falley discusses medieval wills and it would appear those wills in Vicars category 5 are mostly from the Diocese of Dublin and none that would be from County Cavan. Finally there are wills of Irish testators registered in foreign courts that should be considered. In summary, we have then for the county of Cavan:

  1. Wills from the Inquisitions
  2. Prerogative Wills 1536-1858
  3. Prerogative Administration Grants 1536-1858
  4. Diocesan Wills 1536-1858
  5. Diocesan Administration Grants 1536-1858
  6. District Wills 1858-
  7. District Administration Grants 1858-
  8. Unproved Wills
  9. Wills in Foreign Courts

Vicars, Sir A. (Editor) Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536-1810, Dublin, 1897.
Falley, M. D. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore Md., 1980, Vol I, p. 719-720

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Wills from the Inquisitions

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Prerogative Wills 1536-1858

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Prerogative Administration Grants

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Diocesan Wills

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Diocesan Administration Grants 1536-1858

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Abstracts, Notes of Researchers and Other Copies Made Prior to 1922 Fire

(You are looking for a will or admon listed in one of the indexes above.)
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Cavan District Wills

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Unproved Wills

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Wills in Foreign Courts

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[Last updated: 28th February 2002 - Colin Ferguson]

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