Researching your ancestors from Great Britain and Ireland

A guide to researching your ancestors in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, using resources at State Library Victoria.


Before 1858, grants of probate and administration were made by the courts of the Church of Ireland (the Prerogative Court and the Diocesan or Consistorial Courts). There are separate indexes of wills and administrations for each of these courts.

The Probate Act of 1857 established a new Principal Registry in Dublin and 11 District Registries throughout Ireland. From 1858 to 1917 the calendars of wills and administration covered the whole of Ireland - copies of calendars being held in the National Archives of Ireland. From 1918 onwards they cover only the 26 counties in the Republic with the indexes covering the six counties of Northern Ireland being held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

In 1922, fire destroyed the entire collection of original wills and letters of administration at the Public Record Office in Dublin. Copies of records and related indexes held in other district registries are now housed in the National Archives of Ireland and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

Online records - available from home

Online records - available in the library

Further information