In a previous blog, the work of Sir William Betham and his collection of Genealogical Abstracts held at the National Archives was discussed. In conjunction with the Genealogical Abstracts, Betham compiled an extensive collection of sketch pedigrees. In large part these pedigrees were sketched from the material extracted from the Betham’s abstracts of prerogative wills and administrations.
Reference to Betham’s sketch pedigrees make it clear that he must have used other sources to supplement the Prerogative Abstracts as many of the families and/or individuals contained in his sketch pedigrees do not appear in Sir Arthur Vicars’ Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, a subsequent index of Betham’s Genealogical Abstracts published in 1897.
The Sketch Pedigrees are contained in 34 folio volumes under National Library Call numbers GO MSS 261-76 and can be accessed at the Genealogical Office (GO) of the National Library of Ireland (NLI). In addition to Betham’s Sketch Pedigrees, the Genealogical Office of the NLI also hold thirty-two volumes of Will Abstracts made by Sir William Betham during his time at the Record Tower of Dublin Castle. These are held at the GO of the NLI under call numbers GO MSS 223-54 and a number of these volumes have now been digitised and can be found in the Main Catalogue of the National Library of Ireland under “Wills, New Series”. The Will Abstracts compliment the material held in Betham’s genealogical abstracts of Prerogative Wills and Administrations series at the National Archives of Ireland, but also contain many more individuals whose estates were not proved at the Prerogative Court.
The only consolidated index of the records held at the Genealogical Office of the National Library of Ireland was compiled by Virginia Wade McAnliss. Her indexes can be viewed and downloaded from the National Library. These are arranged by family name and place and indicate where Betham’s sketch pedigrees and wills abstracts exist for a given family. If you locate a reference in this catalogue and would like to order a copy of the manuscript you can do so using Timeline’s Genealogy Clerk Service.
Sir William Betham’s sketch pedigrees were an attempt to put into tabular form the abstracts that he had made from the wills and administrations recorded in the Diocesan Courts of Ireland. In some cases the sketch pedigrees drawn-up by Betham extend over four of five generations. In other cases the sketch pedigree consists of a single individual. The genealogical importance of the sketch pedigrees are manifold: as these were drawn from material that in large part was destroyed in 1922 there are in many cases no alternative sources. The sketch pedigrees can include very humble families, such as shoemakers, merchants and the like. This make these pedigrees a valuable adjunct to pedigrees published in other sources such as Burke’s Land Gentry of Ireland and Burke’s Irish Family Records.