PRONI online wills project shows how it should be done
Family Historians should be very impressed with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireleand’s (PRONI) project to provide and index and images of wills from 1858. It’s a model for others to follow and a very good reason for suggesting that the historic post 1858 probate records for England and Wales should not be under the jurisdiction of the Courts Service but rather transferred to an agency that knows how to look after and make accessible popular records used by genealogists. However given that there are over 20 million wills held by the Court service I guess it will be some time before these are all made availeble online.
The PRONI website application provides a free fully searchable index to the will calendar entries for the three District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry, with the facility to view the entire will calendar entry for each successful search. The database covers the period 1858-1919 and 1922-1943. Part of 1921 has been added, with remaining entries for 1920-1921 to follow in the near future.
Digitised images of entries from the copy will books covering the period 1858-1900 are now available online, allowing users to view the full content of a will. 93,388 will images are now available to view.
The Society of Genealogists’ online guide to using Probate Records is avilaible on the SoG webiste
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