More VIC Wills and Probates online!


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If you’re anything like me – when you’re doing research in Victoria and someone dies, you mentally think … what year?  Oh bum – it’s after 1925.

Why do we say that?  Because Victorian Wills and Probate files are free and online from 1841 to 1925.  Understand?  They’re not online after 1925 – that WAS the limit of the files you could access online.  The indexes continue but not the digitised files.

I checked and I’ve got permission from PROV to post this Blog and information!

If it wasn’t for COVID-19 we would be very close to enjoying the new PROV server and website – that would mean heaps and heaps and heaps of new digitised records online for us to have a total pig-out.  Sadly COVID-19 has delayed that for some time in the future – impossible to give an expected date at this stage.

So why am I saying “More VIC Wills and Probates online”???

Let’s re-write that first paragraph as at today …

If you’re anything like me – when you’re doing research in Victoria and someone dies, you mentally think … what year?  Oh bum – it’s after 1950.

1950?  That’s right – 1950!

How and where?  READ CAREFULLY …

Who filmed the Wills and Probate files for the Public Record Office Victoria?


And what can you find on the FamilySearch website?

Wills and Probate files to 1950.  FamilySearch aren’t doing the wrong thing by PROV.  The Indexes aren’t linked to the individual records / digitised films, but by using the PROV Index and a little bit of patience you CAN find the one you’re after and download it from FamilySearch.

The detailed steps below will help you find the right images but for people who know what they’re doing on FamilySearch you may not need this sort of detail.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Search the Wills and probates index on the PROV website for your person of interest. [Image 1 below]
  2. Make a note of the 2 or 3 VPRS numbers for that person  [Image 2]
  3. Sign In to FamilySearch. If you haven’t registered you must do so – it’s free and doesn’t require a credit card.
  4. Search the Catalog for Place – Victoria, Australia – and check Online records  [Image 3 below]
  5. In the results page for your search [Image 4 below] scroll down to Australia, Victoria – Probate records and click on the line to expand it [Image 5]
  6. The two items of interest are highlighted – Australia, Victoria Probate files, 1925-1950 and Australia, Victoria, Wills, 1853-1951
  7. Click on the Probate files 1925-1950 entry to view the 3,123 digital folders – scroll down to see the Film / Digital Notes and look at the detail of each entry – this is the VPRS number and details – in this example we’re looking for VPRS 28 / P3 unit 3514, item 323/725 that was noted in Step 2 above  [Image 6]
  8. In this case the entry we’re searching for is on page 19 – note how the detailed description matches the VPRS numberclick on the camera icon  [Image 7]
  9. You should then see thumbnails of the images in this folder – in this case there are 1,197 images.  If you see individual images, you can click on the Browse Multiple Images icon on the left below the “+” and “-” symbols  [Image 8]
  10. Double click on the first thumbnail to view the Single Image. This is where you need to get creative – we are looking for the file 323/725 and if you looked closely in Step 8 you would have noticed that this digital folder covers files 323/677 to 323/745 and where looking for file 323/725.  I guessed that I wanted image no. 900 – this takes you to file no. 323727 – close!.   [Image 9]
  11. If I was way off I would keep making guesses until I got close the 323/725 – you can choose to go backwards image by image using the arrow or guess another image number like 850.  When you find the correct file no. 323725 DO NOT STOP THERE.  You MUST keep working backwards to ensure you have all the images for file no. 323725.  [Image 10]
  12. If you were physically looking at the probate files for 323/725 in the PROV Reading Room there would be numerous folded groups of documents.  Generally each would have a ‘Victoria Stamp Duty’ stamp on the coverTIP: you can use the multiple image browse button where you can spot these stamps in the thumbnails and keep jumping backwards to find the first image for 323725.  [Image 11]
  13. NOTE: In the last 24 hours – 20 Sep 2020 – FamilySearch are preventing anyone from printing or downloading the images – you can read them but that’s it – you can do screen captures of part pages but that’s it at the moment.  Keep watching this space!
    Once you are at the first image for the file you want, you can download the images.  The download can only be done one image at a time.  If you have downloaded a number of images and the site stops you downloading any more, don’t panic.  You haven’t done anything wrong – it’s just a trigger point in the system – I have checked with FamilySearch that this is OK.  Take a note of the image number (so you can go straight to this one next time), Sign Out, shut down FamilySearch, make a cuppa, open up FamilySearch again, Sign In, and follow procedures above to get to the Film / Folder you want.  Go straight to your next image number by entering the number you noted earlier, and start Downloading from there.  Depending on the number of images in your Probate files, you may need to repeat this step more than once  [Image 12]

RECOMMENDATION: Have a good look around at the other entries in Step 5 / Image 4 to see just how much is available on FamilySearch for your Victorian research.  You might be surprised.  And keep returning to check as more images / folders may have been added since your last search.  Remember that if you find something with a KEY above the CAMERA icon, that means you can’t view it from home – you need to go to a Family History Centre.

If you want to get really excited about the future of images on PROV when the new server and website becomes available, have a look at the 375 entries that appear when you search with Place – Victoria, Australia, AND Author – Public Record Office, AND Online availability.  Many of these are not yet images on FamilySearch (just a film reference) and others are available only at Family History Centres, but they will all be available on PROV in the not too distant future.  [Image 13]  Congratulations to PROV and FamilySearch for these amazing digitisation projects!

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Image 4

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Image 8

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Image 10

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Image 12

Image 13


Beyond 2022 – Irish research


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All Irish records were destroyed in the fire in 1922 – oh my goodness, how many times have I heard this so-called ‘fact’??  Of course that statement is totally wrong BUT there WERE MANY important records destroyed in the Four Courts fire on 30 June 1922.

Here are a few facts:

  • June 1922 to May 1924 – Civil War
  • 28 June to 5 July 1922 – Battle of Dublin
  • Assault by Provisional Government forces on the Four Courts building – garrison of the Irish Republican Army Executive
  • The Irish Public Record Office was located in the western block of the Four Courts
  • It was used as an ammunition store by the Four Courts Garrison
  • Shelling of the Four Courts resulted in the first
  • Fires cause the explosion – 30 June 1922

What was lost?

  • Apart from fragments: Irish Census of 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851
  • Just over half of the Anglican Church of Ireland Registers deposited there following disestablishment of the state church in 1869 [Church of Ireland families – never more than 25% of the population]
  • Majority of wills and testamentary records that have been proved in Ireland – BUT transcripts of many survive
  • All pre-1900 documents from the legal courts, as were local government records for the same period

What wasn’t available anyway!

  • 1861 and 1871 Irish Census – these records were destroyed shortly after the census was taken
  • 1881 and 1891 Irish Census – these records were pulped during WWI due to a paper shortage

What survived or was elsewhere?

  • 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns
  • All civil registration records (BDMs)
  • Nearly half of all Church of Ireland parish registers
  • Roman Catholic baptism, marriage and burial records
  • Presbyterian baptism, marriage and burial records
  • Methodist baptism, marriage and burial records
  • Griffiths Valuation records and maps
  • Tithe Applotment books
  • Indexes to wills and probate bonds
  • A good number of local muster rolls, poll tax lists and other records dating back to early 1600s
  • Thousands of other records
  • Millions of non-government records

The most important advancement for family history researchers into Irish records –

Beyond 2022 – Vision

June 30th, 2022, marks the centenary of the terrible explosion and fire at the Four Courts, Dublin, which destroyed the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) and, with it, seven centuries of Ireland’s collective memories. While incomparable with the loss of human life, the destruction of the Record Treasury at the PROI was one of the great tragedies of the Civil War.

Beyond 2022 is an all-island and international collaboration. Working together, we will launch a Virtual Record Treasury for Irish history—an open-access, virtual reconstruction of the Record Treasury destroyed in 1922.

Combining historical research, archival discovery and technical innovation, Beyond 2022 offers a lasting and meaningful legacy from the Decade of Centenaries, democratising access to invaluable records and illuminating seven centuries of Irish history.

Visit the Beyond 2022 website and explore the videos and progress that has already been made.

Catch up with Else Churchill and Alec Tritton at Beyond BMDs


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Check the Book by Dates to ensure you pre-book for the individual city events – you’ll get a discount off the full price as well as being entered in the BIG prize draws.

You might also get a chance to chat with Else on the BIG news just announced by the Society of Genealogists and Family Search.

Adelaide – Burnie – Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane.

Example – turn up in Melbourne on Monday 23rd March without pre-booking and it will cost you $110 – Pre-book by 16th March and it will only cost you $95.00.

Look forward to seeing you there! Its going to be a great event with fantastic presenters – Else Churchill and Alec Tritton … Susie Zada

Guess what we’ll all be doing in March 2020?


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Discounted certificates for the month of March

To say thank you to our valued family historians, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria (BDM Victoria) are offering downloadable uncertified historical certificates for $20 each for the entire month of March.

This is a saving of $4.50 per certificate.

You can also subscribe to BDM Victoria’s mailing list for future offers, updates about system improvements and user guidance.

Why is February 14 so important?


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If you answered – “It’s Valentine’s Day” – you’re WRONG.  There is something much more important AND better than a bunch of roses for Valentine’s Day.

What is it I hear you ask?

It’s the LAST DAY you can get a massive $200 discount off the full price for FHDU – Family History Down Under – 22-26 March 2021, Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

Are you going to be boring and follow the pack?  Buy a dozen red roses that will be dead within a week and forgotten within 2?

Buy your Valentine a ticket to:

Family History Down Under
22-26 March 2021
Sunshine Coast, Queensland

The excitement and anticipation will grow from this Valentine’s Day until next year’s Valentine’s Day when your sweetheart will have to start thinking about packing.

And it will last a LIFETIME – your Valentine will learn so much that it will be part of the rest of their lives researching both of your families.

Even better – it’s an event you can both enjoy – lots do to for partners but even better if shared between both of you, you will learn twice as much.  Amazing overseas speakers, massive exhibition – the benefits are endless.


FEBRUARY 14, 2020

DNA – the perfect ‘marriage’? #DNADU #DNADOWNUNDER


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This blog has nothing to do with MY DNA but it’s definitely part of the DNA fever that is flying across Australia at the moment – I’m talking about the DNA Down Under roadshowBlaine Bettinger, Louise Coakley, the Unlock the Past crew and a cast too huge to mention have just left Brisbane after a hugely successful DNA day and by now should have landed in Perth.

They’ll then be heading to Adelaide, followed by Melbourne where I get to join the crew, and on to Canberra and Sydney.

So what is the ‘Perfect Marriage’???  The image tells part of the story – it’s nothing to do with me but I can give myself permission to use my name and my photo! – but it’s definitely to do with DNA and MyHeritage.

This morning I had just finished at gym when I got a phone call from a really good mate – Jan in Yarrawonga – who had just got a new DNA match for her hubby.  Jan is family history from the top of her head to her toes – and those who know Jan know that is a long way!  Jan is the current President of the Yarrawonga Family History Group and VAFHO and former / current (?) President of the Cobram Genealogical Group.

And guess who the DNA match was with?  Louise Coakley – the DNA guru of Australia and New Zealand – currently on tour with Blaine Bettinger for the DNA Down Under Roadshow.

So combine one devoted family history researcher with one DNA guru and THAT’s what I call the PERFECT MARRIAGE in Family History!

Test more and Click more – DNA Down Under #DNADU


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Yes – I’m a DNA Down Under Ambassador.  AND Yes – I’m so looking forward to attending DNA Down Under in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

In another blog I mentioned how the up-and-coming DNA Down Under shows had an unexpected side-effect – I was spending more time analysing my own DNA results and making some terrific progress.

Do you know how important it is to refresh the basics that we already know?

From following two of the speakers appearing at DNA Down Under via their Facebook Pages – Blaine Bettinger and Louise Coakley –  I’ve learnt again and again why it’s so important to test as many family members as possible.

I hadn’t forgotten about that but I wasn’t thinking about it enough – that is until this morning and boy did it hit home!

I’ve been a great fan of MyHeritage’s TOFR – Theory of Family Relativity.  That ‘unexpected side-effect’ blog explains my success with TOFR.  A recent update of TOFRs by MyHeritage saw my number of TOFRs shrink to four.  I was a tad disappointed but put it down to the fact that I had updated my tree on MyHeritage based on solving one of the puzzling TOFRs – and didn’t think much more about it.

So what happened this morning?  I got an email from MyHeritage saying that my sister-in-law’s DNA results were ready – earlier than expected.  She had asked me to manage her DNA Test and was possibly looking for half siblings.  She wasn’t sure she wanted to me them but was curious enough to do the DNA Test.  I know I’d be able to split her results into maternal and paternal – her son, my nephew had tested some time ago, as had her 1st cousin on her paternal side.

So as soon as I saw her results I started investigating her matches.  Already started flagging some as Paternal because of matches with her first cousin.

I hadn’t yet expanded our family tree to include her branch of the family although I have a lot of that on my desktop program and was thinking … I must add that before the next TOFR update by MyHeritage.  Of course she had no TOFRs at this stage which was to be expected.

For some reason I did some clicking – remember my title for this blog – Test more and Click more?????????

I looked at my nephew’s TOFR – and to be honest I don’t think I’ve looked at them before – too obsessed with looking and investigating my own TOFR.  So I should have been surprised but I was – he had 11 TOFRs!

That’s when it all came back to me – test as many people in your family that you can.  Of course I knew we would have different matches and of course chromosome segments because my brother (his father) and I had inherited different DNA from our parents.

I just hadn’t expanded that knowledge to TOFRs!

Hooley Dooley – do you know how much work I’ve got ahead of me????

On MyHeritage:

  • I have 5,295 matches
  • I have 4 x Theory of Family Relativity
  • My nephew has 5,276 matches
  • My nephew has 11 x Theory of Family Relativity
  • My brother has 6,278 matches
  • My brother has 14 x Theory of Family Relativity

I didn’t recognise the names of the people who matched the TOFRs but most of them appeared to go back to some paternal and maternal lines back to 3xgreat grandparents.

I’m starting to count up the hours between now and DNA Down Under – do I have enough time to check them all?  I hope so!

Remember the basics and don’t forget to go back and check them!

Hope to see you at DNA Down Under!

It feels great to be an Aussie!



I’ve just finished watching the wonderful memorial service for Bob Hawke – it engendered every emotion imagineable but most of all – pride to be an Aussie.

If you missed it, make a point of watching it when you can.

Especially the rendition of Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and William Barton playing the didgeridoo – just magnificent.

Valé  Bob.

Important news from Vic Registry of BDMs


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vicbdmlogoWe now have direct contact with senior management at the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

To keep abreast of the current and changing status of the Vic BDM website and searches, follow the VAFHO (Victorian Association of Family History Organisations) Blog site at:

Simply search for BDM to locate current and previous blogs on this subject.

DNA Downunder – early bird closing


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Has 2019 been disappearing very quickly for you too?

I confess I can’t believe that one third of the year is just about gone already.

I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ll be at the Melbourne 1-day event on Friday 23rd August and the Sydney 3-day event Thursday 29 – Saturday 31 August.

Early Bird discount bookings close on Tuesday 30 April so if you want to benefit from them you need to book NOW.

Blaine Bettinger is considered one of the world gurus on DNA and this will be such a great opportunity to benefit from his incredible knowledge.

I’ve also be fortunate to have heard some of the other speakers on the Sydney program – Helen Smith, Kerry Farmer, and Louise Coakley.  Our local Geelong Family History Group has been spoilt with TWO webinars by Louise Coakley and Heather Cox so I know I’m going to have a dilemma deciding on which sessions to go to – I just know that I won’t be disappointed whichever ones I choose.

Do I sound excited?  You bet I am.  I’ve been chatting to Blaine via Messenger since his participation was announced and he is so looking forward to bringing his two boys to Australia with him.  I’m also excited because DNA Downunder falls in our Australasian National Family History Month so August is going to be full-on for me!

By attending the Melbourne AND Sydney DNA Downunder events that means I’m doing DNA TO THE MAX!

You have a choice of:

  • A Single Day Event – DNA in your local city
  • Diving Deeper – a Journey through DNA in Sydney
  • DNA To The MAX – the ultimate DNA experience – your local city AND the Sydney event

As I said, I was excited when DNA Downunder was first announced and I was delighted when I was invited to be a DNA Downunder Ambassador.

The first third of the year has whizzed by and I KNOW the second third will disappear even quicker – by then we’ll all be talking about how much we’ve learnt about DNA testing and using those results to the MAX!  I can’t wait for #DNADU .