Shauna has chosen Probates (wills and administration) for her Week 3 topic and tells us that "probate records can fill in missing information on a family, or provide details that would not be found anywhere else or they may just raise more questions. Either way, it is definitely worth checking (usually the records are at the State Archives) to see if there was a will or an intestacy. Remember to widen your search time period as not all estates were wrapped up shortly after death. It may only occur after the death of both partners. There may not be any probate records to find but you will never know unless you look."
I have had quite a bit of luck with wills - many members of my family lived on the land and made wills and some of them are just fascinating reading. My favourite is the will of my great great grandfather David Mulholland - it provides a great insight into the dynamics of the family.
All the surviving children are named in David's will, including the married names of his daughters but the will itself is an exercise in sexism and favouritism.
Henry and James, the two sons who farmed with their father get half the land, half the cattle and half the money each after various bequests are filled. David's wife Eliza gets to stay in their house for her lifetime, but does not own the dwelling. She may do as she likes with the furniture, however, and Henry and James are to pay her 5 shillings each per week to live on. Eldest son David, who has his own business, gets £50 cash while unmarried daughter Jane gets £20. Of the three married daughters, Mary and Ellen get a shilling each and favourite Pricilla gets £10. The handwritten will is included below.