Calendars of Wills and Administration, 1858-1922 as a Genealogical aid and indicator of Wealth a Preliminary Snapshotin of the Bantry, Durrus, Caheragh and Skibbereen areas, West Cork:

Even though most of the original Probate records were destroyed in the Public Records in Dublin in 1922 the summaries which are now online and are useful. Apart from looking up a relevant name it is possible to look up a name as a beneficiary which often throws up unexpected connections.

The ordinary small farmer, or tradesman do not feature not being possessed of enough property on death to merit a Probate application. In West Cork this applies to the Protestant as well as Catholic parts of the community.

As a preliminary snapshot for the area some trends emerge. This is based on some Church of Ireland and Methodist records but the same trend for Catholics (available on, Church Records) would probably emerge except for the large landowners,

One of the largest Probates is that of the 2nd (1868) and 3rd (1884) Earls of Bantry with fortunes in the range of present day money of €20-30 million. It is surprising that in 1890 Lord Ardilaun one of the Guinnessses related to the Whites was complaining that the Estate was running a chronic loss of around £2,000 a year. The extensive Hutchins/Newburghs family of Ardnagashel and Ballylickey come in with reasonable individual fortunes. There is some elememt of living in Dublin or London as well as the house in Cork. Many of the families have military or church connections.

Lesser land owners and land Agents such as branches of the Swanton and Sweetnam families often leave monies in the range of £1,000 to £3,000.

The Bechers/Beechers and Hulls once extensive magnates hardly feature perhaps what ver fortune they had was in England or more likely just dissipated over time. I have not yet looked at the Townsends or O’Donovans.

Typically the middling or strong tenant farmers leave in the range of £100 to £250. In the local area they are regarded as big farmers often having servants but this is a poor area not destitute like West Donegal and the fortunes are small beer compared to those arising from the good land of East Cork and other arable areas.

The town Merchants feature, William Warner, Pioneering Butter Merchant who by 1917 was in Cork left £17,000 the same range again in Cork as one of the Skuses probably originally from the area. A typical fortune by a merchant would be in the ranhe of £500 to £1,200.

A feature is the number of spinsters who feature where did the men go?

From 1910 the vast bulk of farm land in Ireland was vested in the former tenant farmers. From then on for conveyancing purposes a grant on death is often necessary and some of the ‘effects’ are quite small.

There are some entries in the following burial records from c 1860: