Monday, December 13, 2010

Exploring the PRONI wills online - what I found and how I found it

I love it when a routine genealogy search suddenly takes me into new territory.

A little under two weeks ago, Shauna Hicks tweeted about the launch of Northern Irish wills online. The information was free, and the will copy books were digitised. Although I have done little with the Irish portions of my family tree, I had to have a look.

I tried my Irish family names in the surname field, with some success. I then turned my attention to the other search options. I typed the surname "Stannus" into the "Full Abstract" field and was rewarded with twenty records. Most were cases of people who lived in "Stannus place", but a few had a Stannus family member appointed as executor.

As I scanned the surnames, and hovered over the descriptions for more detail, one entry on the front page jumped out at me. The name was Margaretta Mercer Mack, and she had appointed Catharine Stannus of Belfast, widow, as her executrix. Catharine Stannus, nee Mack, was my GGG grandmother and I know little about her. An index entry for Irish marriages on the FamilySearch beta site gives her father's name as Robert (having a look at that film is on my ever growing to-do list) but that's the limit of my knowledge.

Genealogy happy dance! Margaretta was Catharine's unmarried sister, previously unknown to me! Not only that, the will named several other siblings as beneficiaries. Well, sort of beneficiaries, but I think I will save that for another post.

Now I am left with more leads to follow up, pages and pages of wills to transcribe, and a useful tip to share: Don't limit yourself to entering surnames only in the surname field. You never know what new territory you may get to explore.

1 comment:

  1. I'm inspired! Another site on my growing list to check out.

    ReplyDelete