WILLS
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Prerogative Wills: Betham Abstracts.

Testamentary Authority after 1857.

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Will Abstracts: Inland Revenue Records.

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Will Abstracts in the Genealogical Office.

Will Abstracts and Transcripts: Other Sources.

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Prerogative Wills: Betham Abstracts

The loss of the original Prerogative wills is mitigated to a large extent by the project carried out in the early decades of the nineteenth century by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms. As well as preparing the first index of testators, up to 1810, he also made abstracts of the family information contained in almost all of the wills before 1800.

The original notebooks in which he recorded the information are now in the National Archives, and The Genealogical Office has his Sketch Pedigrees based on these abstracts and including later additions and amendments. The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has a copy of the Genealogical Office series, without the additions and amendments, made by a successor of Betham's, Sir John Burke.

Betham Sketch pedigree

[Click for larger image]
Betham also made a large number of abstracts from Prerogative Grants up to 1802. The original notebooks for these are also in the National Archives. The Genealogical Office transcript copy (GO 257-260) is fully alphabetical, unlike the notebooks.


The first index to Prerogative wills, up to 1810, was published in 1897 by Sir Arthur Vicars, Burke's successor as Ulster King of Arms, and can be used as a guide to Betham's abstracts and Sketch Pedigrees with the proviso that wills from the decade 1800 - 1810 are not covered by Betham. The manuscript index for the period from 1811 to 1857 is in the National Archives reading room. As with the consistorial administration bonds indexes, the Prerogative Grants indexes are not fully alphabetical, being arranged year by year under the initial letter of the surname of the deceased person.
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