Expert Tip: Administration records and Schedules of Assets (post-1858)

Probate jurisdiction was transferred to the civil courts in 1858. After that time, when a person died intestate (without leaving a will) but with assets, their next-of-kin (or where there was none, a creditor) could apply to the civil probate authorities for a grant of Administration. While of course for a genealogist any record is better than none, where a deceased died intestate there will always be much less information available to assist in their research.


The term “died intestate” immediately tells us that there was no will and in such a case all that will exist (if it has survived 1922) will be the entry in the printed annual calendar, a record of the grant of administration and some ancillary papers. However, by careful reading much valuable information can be gleaned from these papers. You can learn the name, address, occupation of the deceased and their marital status, perhaps even the name of their spouse. The papers will also note the name, address and occupation of the administrator(s) and sometimes their relationship to the deceased. You can perhaps discover details of other relatives if they were parties to any oaths or statements sworn pertaining to the estate: administrator’s bond, asset values or papers regarding a late application for a grant.

In addition (whether the deceased died testate or not) there should be a Schedule of Assets (sometimes referred to an Inland Revenue Affidavit). These can be a gold mine of genealogical data, noting the deceased’s name, address, occupation, marital status and age. It will also record how many children the deceased was survived by and whether any were still minors. The name of the deceased’s spouse is noted and whether living or deceased and if dead whether a grant of probate/administration was ever extracted (noting when and where).

The deceased’s assets and liabilities are listed. Under liabilities, the name and address of the undertaker is often noted, which might lead to discovering where the deceased was buried. Reference to a mortuary stonemason’s bill suggests a gravestone having been paid for and erected; payment to a newspaper suggests a death or funeral notice. Later twentieth century schedules note the name and address of legatees and beneficiaries. These Schedules are also a terrific source for details of freehold or leasehold property held by the deceased owned, often noting the folio number where the property was registered with the Land Registry (rather than the Registry of Deeds).

Duplicate administration grant books for areas of the Republic outside of the Dublin District and Principal Probate Registries survive (now in the National Archives of Ireland) for virtually the whole period 1858 to c1904. After that period the original records survive (along with the more informative ancillary papers and Schedules of Assets). There are virtually no original administration records or Schedules of Assets for the Dublin and Principal Registries before 1922. After that date, Schedules of Assets are filed along with the original papers for all registries outside of Dublin.

But this is not the case in Dublin, where they are filed separately, bound annually by initial letter of surname and then in order of the date of grant. Survival for Northern Ireland grants is the same, with original material generally surviving from 1904.

Steven Smyrl FIGRS
June 2013

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