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A fiant was a writ issued to the Irish Chancery mandating the issue of letters patent under the Great Seal of Ireland. The name fiant comes from the opening words of the document, Fiant litterae patentes, Latin for "Let letters patent be made".[1] Fiants were typically issued by the chief governor of Ireland, under his privy seal;[2] or sealed by the Secretary of State, who served as "Keeper of the Privy Seal of Ireland", just as the English Secretary of State did in England.[3] Fiants dealt with matters ranging from appointments to high office and important government activities, to grants of pardons to the humblest of the native Irish.[4] Fiants relating to early modern Ireland are an important primary source for the period for historians and genealogists.[5] The Tudor fiants were especially numerous, many relating to surrender and regrant.[2] A fiant often provides more information than the ensuing letters patent recorded on patent rolls.[6] There are also fiants for which the patent roll does not list any letters patent, either because none were issued or because those issued were never enrolled, through accident or abuse.[7] Prior to the Act of Explanation 1665, letters patent were enrolled (if at all) after they were granted; under the act, the fiant was enrolled first, and the letters issued afterwards.[8] Thereafter the rolls, which were catalogued in the 19th century, give the same information as the original fiants.

The Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) held Chancery fiants from 1521 (Henry VIII) up to 1891 (Victoria),[2] as well as Crown and Hanaper fiants (1619–1873),[9] Privy Council of Ireland fiant books (1711–1832),[10] and Signet Office (Chief Secretary for Ireland) fiant books (1796–1830).[11] The originals were destroyed in the 1922 explosion in the Four Courts. The fiants of the Tudor sovereigns had been calendared and published from 1875–90.[12][13] An 1820s manuscript calendar of the fiants of James I and Charles I is available in the PROI (now the National Archives of Ireland).[14]



Reports of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records in Ireland
Year Report No. Appendix No. Command
Reign Dates Fiant Nos.
1875 7th App X C. 1175 Henry VIII 1521–47 1–548
1886 18th App VI p.147 C. 4755 Henry VIII 1521–47 64a..548 [6793–6797]
1876 8th App IX C. 1469 Edward VI 1547–53 1–1257
1886 18th App VI p.148 C. 4755 Edward VI 1547–53 159a..1147a [6798–6807]
1877 9th App IV C. 1702 Philip and Mary 1553–58 1–276
1886 18th App VI p.150 C. 4755 Philip and Mary 1553–58 277–279 [6808–6811]
1878 11th App 3 C. 2311 Elizabeth 1558–70 1–1614
1880 12th App V C. 2583 Elizabeth 1570–76 1615–2935
1881 13th App IV C. 2929 Elizabeth 1576–83 2936–4253
1883 15th App I C. 3676 Elizabeth 1583–86 4254–4935
1884 16th App II C. 4062 Elizabeth 1586–95 4936–5973
1885 17th App IV C. 4487 Elizabeth 1596–1601 5974–6564
1886 18th App VI C. 4755 Elizabeth 1601–03 6565–6792
1889 21st App III C. 5835 Elizabeth 1558–1603 Index A-C
1890 22nd App VI C. 6180.i Elizabeth 1558–1603 Index D-Z
  • Dudley Edwards, Robin; O'Dowd, Mary (2002) [1985]. Sources for Early Modern Irish History 1534–1641. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052127141X. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  • Wood, Herbert (1919). Guide to the records deposited in the Public Record Office of Ireland (PDF). Dublin: HMSO. Retrieved 21 December 2016.


  1. ^ Séamas Ó Scannláin (15 December 2003). Poets and poetry of the Great Blasket. Mercier Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-1-85635-416-5. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Wood 1919, pp.10–11
  3. ^ Wood, Herbert (1928–29). "The Offices of Secretary of State for Ireland and Keeper of the Signet or Privy Seal". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C. 38: 51–68: 56. JSTOR 25515934.
  4. ^ Dudley Edwards and O'Dowd 2002 p.17
  5. ^ Anthony Adolph (21 January 2010). Collins Tracing Your Irish Family History. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 209–. ISBN 978-0-00-736095-6. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  6. ^ Roulston, William J. (2005). Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800. Ulster Historical Foundation. p. 47. ISBN 9781903688533. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  7. ^ Dudley Edwards and O'Dowd 2002 p.19
  8. ^ PROI, 7th Report, p.27
  9. ^ Wood 1919, p.48
  10. ^ Wood 1919, p.199
  11. ^ Wood 1919, p.211
  12. ^ Dudley Edwards and O'Dowd 2002 p.20
  13. ^ Archivum franciscanum historicum: periodica publicatio trimestris cura pp. Collegii D. Bonaventurae. Vol. 77. Ad Claras Aquas prope Florentiam. 1984. p. 117. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  14. ^ Dudley Edwards and O'Dowd 2002 p.136