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  Quaker Records Dublin - Abstracts of Wills

Irish Manuscripts Commission

Quaker Records Dublin

Abstracts of Wills

Edited By P. Beryl Eustace and Olive C. Goodbody

Clearfield Company Inc.


Amongst the manuscripts preserved at the Meeting House of the Religious Society of Friends, Eustace Street, Dublin, are the six collections of Wills and Inventories from which we have prepared Abstracts.1 These Wills are now of exceptional value because of the destruction in 1922 of practically all the original Wills in the Record Office.

The Society of Friends has always laid stress on the proper keeping of Minutes, and of records of Births, Deaths and Marriages. William Edmondson2 and a few of his friends met in the first Quaker meeting in Ireland at Lurgan in 1654. Fourteen years later he was largely responsible for the organization of the Society in Ireland, after which Minutes and Records were kept by most Meetings. Some records are retrospective to 1655. The original reason for keeping book of Wills is best explained by quoting the title page of one of them A Book For the Recordinge the Last Wills of Friends deceased wherein the Trust is Left (by any friend deceased) to Executo[r]s or Trustees of theyrs Personall or Reale Estates Bequeathed to children in theyer Mynority, that such Estates be Well Looked into and Preserved from Loss or Weast, that such children, orphants, be not wronged. Dated in Dublin the 26 of the 6 month 16843

The last wishes of a testator in settling his affairs can seldom be of historical significane, but because the names of some of the early Quaker pioneers in Ireland appear in these Wills it is well to recall that they lived in a difficult time of great political activity when the harsh laws of the English Parliament to suppress Irish trade were almost wholly successful. In Dublin the Quakers were generally merchants and manufacturers,4  but they were for the most part small traders and farmers in country districts.


1 A list of the Wills preserved at Lisburn in the Records of the Northern Province appears on page 106. Short Abstracts of them are printed in Vol. 2, No. 8, The Irish Genealogist.    We also list Wills in the Historical Library, Eustace St.

2 Though the modern practice is to spell the name of the founder Edmondson it appears as Edmundson in some manuscripts. Some descendants in England use the form Edmondson while the Irish branch adhere to the spelling Edmundson.

3 Unfortunatley the keeping of such books lapsed with time, nor does it appear to have been the practice in every meeting in Ireland; for instance at one end of MS. Cork 36 Minutes of Bandon and the West is a title page A Book of Wills and Inventorys but this is followed by blank pages.

4 Anthony Sharp, (see abstract 175), who established a woolen manufacturer in Dublin, was the most prominent Quaker manufacturer. He became Master of the Weavers Corporation and also, under James II who wanted to encourage the non-Protestant element in the City Corporation, an alderman of Dublin and a city auditor. Quakers in Ireland. Grubb

Abstracts of the Wills and Inventories

The Abstracts are arranged in alphabetical order under testators surnames. Minor bequests to local meetings and charities have been omitted but all items of general interest are included. As far as possible the actual working used by a testator has been copied. It will be noticed that some documents are Deeds of Settlement or Deeds of Trust, not Wills, but they were in effect Wills. A deed was drawn up whereby the principal party or grantor assigned his real and personal estate to trustees to hold for his lifetime on his behalf, and then to dispose of according to his wishes, the trustees being put in actual possession of such effects by payment of a small sum, usually sixpence, paid over at the time of the drawing up of the deed.

To many of the Wills and Deeds Inventories were attached, made by appraisers after the death of the testator or grantor.1 Judging by the inclusion of such small assets as stocks of bees great care must have been taken in drawing up these Inventories.2 Some of these Inventories are lists giving the value of each article, others merely group articles together and give a total figure. We have noted the general types of assets contained in each Inventory, preceded by the words "valuations of:" if the Inventory is in detail. Contemporary values of the late seventeenth century being of special interest we have quoted some items from Inventories for the period 1675-1715. These how that the maximum value of a cow was 2 10s. 0d., winter corn was 2 and acre, oats 4/-per barrel, wool 11/-per stone, tobacco 6d. to 11d. per pound, silver 5/6 per ounce, while groceries ranged from 5d. to 9d. per pound for sugar to 9/- per pound for cloves and nutmegs. An idea of life some two hundred and fifty years ago can be learnt not only from the Wills themselves but from the list of furniture and household articles, the variety of merchandise in the shops,3 the goods sent abroad in efforts to increase trading, the tools and implements in everyday use.

We are grateful to the owners of the manuscripts, the Dublin Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends, and the Wexford Monthly Meeting, for permission to make these abstracts, and we must thank the Registrar for the excellent facilities afforded to us.

P. Beryl Eustace
Olive C. Goodbody

Dec. 1953


1 In a few cases, testators, e.g. George Clibborn, Abstract No. 50, drew up their own inventories.

2 Series of accounts are often affed to the Inventories, and lists of Debts Due to and Debts Owed by the testators.

3 For example the lists of books in Samuel and Mary Fuller's bookshop. D. 5. 83 and 84.

Abstracts of Wills

Click on a letter for surnames Abstracts of Wills.



Appendix I

List of Quaker Wills at Lisburn


Appendix II

List of Miscellaneous Quaker Wills in the Historical Library, Eustace Street