Barnstable County, Massachusetts

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''[[United States|United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png|go to]] [[Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png|go to]]'' '''Barnstable County''' <br>  
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''[[United States|United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png|go to]] [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide|Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png|go to]]'' '''Barnstable County''' <br> This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Barnstable. You will find help with town histories, vital records, deeds and land records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, town records, newspapers, maps, and libraries.<br>  
  
{{MADC}}
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== Barnstable County Massachusetts History  ==
  
{{Infobox U.S. County
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=== Brief History  ===
| county = Barnstable County
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| county_map = Ma-barnstable.png
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| state = Massachusetts
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| latd =  
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| longd =  
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| founded year = 1685
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| founded date = June 2
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| seat = Barnstable
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| building image =
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| building address = Barnstable County Courthouse<br> 3195 Main Street<br>P.O. Box 427<br>Barnstable, MA 02630&nbsp; <br>Phone: 508.362.2511<br>[http://www.barnstablecounty.org/ '''Barnstable County Website'''] }}
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[[Image:Cape.jpg|thumb|right|200px]] {{BarCouMAtowms}}
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Barnstable County is often called Cape Cod and both refer to the same region. This is area where the ''Mayflower'' first landed at what is now called Provincetown. The area was a frequent stop for early fishermen before the arrival of the Pilgrims, and settlements started here not long after the founding of [[Plymouth Colony|Plymouth Colony]]. The earliest records will be found in the Colony's records and those of the individual towns. [[Plymouth Colony|Plymouth Colony]] did not establish a county system until 1685. This county became part of [[Massachusetts Bay Colony|Massachusetts Bay Colony]] in 1691. Since settlers generally used the water for transportation, it is not uncommon to find Cape Codders on the coast of Maine, New Jersey, Barbados, and places in between.<br>
  
== County Courthouse ==
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=== Historical Data ===
  
<br><br>Clerk Circuit Court has divorce and court records from 1828; Register of Deeds has land records<br>Probate&nbsp;Judge has probate records<ref name="HB">''The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America'', 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002)Barnstable County, Massachussetts, p.329.</ref>  
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The basic data are from the historical county boundary series<ref>[http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/documents/MA_Individual_County_Chronologies.htm#BARNSTABLE Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries]</ref> with additions from various sources.
  
<br>&nbsp;<br>Towns Organized Before 1800: <br>Barnstable 1638, <br>Chatham 1712, <br>Dennis 1793, <br>Eastham 1646, <br>Falmouth 1694, <br>Harwich 1694, <br>Mashpee 1763, <br>Orleans 1797, <br>Provincetown 1727, <br>Truro 1709, <br>Wellfleet 1763, <br>Yarmouth 1639
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{| cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" border="1"
 
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|-
== Historical Facts  ==
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! width="100" scope="col" | Dates
 
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! width="500" scope="col" | Events
{| style="float: right;" border="0"
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|-
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| 2 June 1685
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| Barnstable was one of three original counties created by New Plymouth Colony. [Ply. Laws, Ch. 6, p. 19]
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|-
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| 7 Oct. 1691
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| Barnstable became a county in the rechartered Massachusetts Bay Colony with no change to its borders. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 1, Ch. 27 [1692/3], Sec. 1, p. 63]
 
|-
 
|-
| {{Adoption RootsWorks Research}}
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| 19 Nov. 1707
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| Lost the town of [[Rochester, Massachusetts|Rochester]] when it was moved into the jurisdiction of [[Plymouth County, Massachusetts|Plymouth County]]. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 21, Ch. 60 [1707], p. 755]
 
|-
 
|-
| align="center" | {{Wikipedia|Barnstable County, Massachusetts}}
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| 14 Apr. 1897
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| Border between Bourne and Wareham, Plymouth Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1897, Ch. 281, Sec. 1, p. 258]
 
|}
 
|}
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<div style="width: 147%"><center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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=== Towns and Cities  ===
  
Barnstable County is part of Cape Cod and was made an island when the Cape Cod Canal was finished in 1914. (besides the two vehicle bridges and a railroad bridge across the canal the only other other access is by boat or plane). Well there is a little piece of the county (part of Bourne) on the north side of the canal, but it is still fun to think of it as an island. In fact, some of the islanders may have advocated closing the canal bridges to vehicle traffic.
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[[Image:Ma-barnstable.png|right|400px|Ma-barnstable.png]]The following list of present-day Barnstable County towns and cities links them to their individual pages. There you will find a list of other names used for the town or city and of villages and sections of the town or city.<br>
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<center>[[Barnstable, Massachusetts|Barnstable (1638)]] - [[Bourne, Massachusetts|Bourne (1884)]] - [[Brewster, Massachusetts|Brewster (1803)]]<br>[[Chatham, Massachusetts|Chatham (1712)]] - [[Dennis, Massachusetts|Dennis (1793)]] - [[Eastham, Massachusetts|Eastham (1646)]]<br>[[Falmouth, Massachusetts|Falmouth (1686)]] - [[Harwich, Massachusetts|Harwich (1694)]] - [[Mashpee, Massachusetts|Mashpee (1870)]]<br>[[Orleans, Massachusetts|Orleans (1797]] | [[Provincetown, Massachusetts|Provincetown (1727)]] | [[Sandwich, Massachusetts|Sandwich (1639)]]<br>[[Truro, Massachusetts|Truro (1709)]] | [[Wellfleet, Massachusetts|Wellfleet (1775)]] | [[Yarmouth, Massachusetts|Yarmouth (1639)]]</center><br>
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'''Annexed to Plymouth County:''' [[Rochester, Massachusetts|Rochester (1686)]] (annexed 1707)
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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=== County Histories  ===
  
The ''Mayflower'' and its 99 passengers landed first on Cape Cod near Provincetown and then at Plymouth on 21 Nov 1620.
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{{BarCouMAtowms}}Works written on the county include:<br>
  
The ship ''Fortune'' arrived in Nov 1621.  
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*Lydia B. Brownson, Grace W. Held, and Doris V. Norton, "Genealogical Notes of Cape Cod Families" (Duxbury, Mass., typ., 1966), 50v.<br>This manuscript is part of the [http://www.sturgislibrary.org/collections/special Special Collections] at the Sturis Library in Barnstable. It is alphabetically by surname and then by given name below that. It is a culmination of research in published histories and genealogies, and from the vital records of the various towns.<br>Digital version of the 50 volumes is at [http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Brownson%2C+Lydia+B.%3B+Norton%2C+Doris+V.%3B+Held%2C+Grace+V.%22&utm_source=June+2012+News+from++the+Sturgis+Library&utm_campaign=June+2012+newsletter&utm_medium=email Internet Archive]. To go directly to an individual volume, use this guide below:<br>
  
The ''Anne'' and ''Little James ''followed so that by 1624 there are about 180 persons in Plymouth Colony.  
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{| cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" border="1" align="center"
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote01brow Vol. 01 (Adams to Arnold)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote02brow Vol. 02 (Athearn to Bailey)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote03brow Vol. 03 (Baker)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote04brow Vol. 04 (Bang to Bassett)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote05brow Vol. 05 (Bates to Besse)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote06brow Vol. 06 (Bickford to Borden)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote07brow Vol. 07 (Bourne to Briggs)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote08brow Vol. 08 (Brooks to Busbey)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote09brow Vol. 09 (Bush to Charter)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote10brow Vol. 10 (Chase to Chipman)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote11brow Vol. 11 (Christie to Coan)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote12brow Vol. 12 (Cobb to Coleman)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote13brow Vol. 13 (Collins to Creed)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote14brow Vol. 14 (Crispe to Crosby)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote15brow Vol. 15 (Crowell to Curtiss)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote16brow Vol. 16 (Cushman to Dill)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote17brow Vol. 17 (Dillingham to Dunham)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote18brow Vol. 18 (Dunster to Eldredge)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote19brow Vol. 19 (Ellis to Farris)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote20brow Vol. 20 (Faunce to Foster)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote21brow Vol. 21 (Fowell to Fuller)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote22brow Vol. 22 (Gage to Gibbs)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote23brow Vol. 23 (Gifford to Gorham)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote24brow Vol. 24 (Gould to Hall)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote25brow Vol. 25 (Hallett to Handy)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote26brow Vol. 26 (Harding to Hathaway)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote27brow Vol. 27 (Hawes to Hillman)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote28brow Vol. 28 (Hinckley to Homer)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote29brow Vol. 29 (Hopkins to Howes)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote30brow Vol. 30 (Howland to Jenney)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote31brow Vol. 31 (Jennings to Kinney)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote32brow Vol. 32 (Kendrick to Leonard)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote33brow Vol. 33 (Lewis to Loring)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote34brow Vol. 34 (Lothrop to Marsh)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote35brow Vol. 35 (Marchant to Merrick)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote36brow Vol. 36 (Merry to Nichols)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote37brow Vol. 37 (Nickerson to Norton)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote38brow Vol. 38 (Nye to Paine)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote39brow Vol. 39 (Palmer to Perry)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote40brow Vol. 40 (Phillips to Purrington)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote41brow Vol. 41 (Redding to Robinson)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote42brow Vol. 42 (Rogers to Seabury)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote43brow Vol. 43 (Sears to Smalley)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote44brow Vol. 44 (Smith to Soper)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote45brow Vol. 45 (Soule to Sweat)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote46brow Vol. 46 (Swift to Thayer)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote47brow Vol. 47 (Thaxter to Twining)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote48brow Vol. 48 (Underwood to West)]
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|-
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote49brow Vol. 49 (Weston to Wilson)]
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| [http://archive.org/details/genealogicalnote50brow Vol. 50 (Wing to Young)]
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|}
  
Late 1630s settlements formed in what is now Barnstable County.
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IN PROGRESS
  
In Sandwich there are some families led by Rev. John Vincent before 1637.  
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*[http://www.plymouthcolony.net/barnstable/ The Barnstable County MA GenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Barnstable The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Barnstable County
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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== Barnstable County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources  ==
  
Settlers in [[Yarmouth, Massachusetts|Yarmouth]] before 1639 and the Town of [[Barnstable, Massachusetts|Barnstable]] in 1638.
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=== Vital Records  ===
  
[[Eastham, Massachusetts|Eastham]] is the fourth area settled in Mar 1644.  
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In Massachusetts, the original vital records (of births, marriages, and deaths) have been created and maintained by the town or city in which the event occurred. In very early colonial times, copies of these records were submitted to the county, but that practice died out before 1800. There were marriage intentions commonly recorded in the bride's home town and additional recordings maybe found in the groom's home town and their current residence.<br>
  
Barnstable County was originally part of [[Plymouth Colony|Plymouth Colony]], separated from Massachusetts Bay colony to the north by "the Old Colony Line." Plymouth Colony was initially centered on the landing place of the Pilgrims, the town of Plymouth. But since the 1620s the population and reach of the colony had grown considerable. At first, Governor Bradford had only one assistant, Isaac Allerton. By 1685 the colony was governed by a governor, a deputy governor, six assistants, deputies and constables from seventeen towns, grand jury members, and highway surveyors. The seventeen towns of Plymouth Colony at that time were governed by selectmen. So in 1685, with government rapidly growing and travel still difficult, the deputies of the General Court which made the laws for the Colony decided to divide the colony into three counties, Bristol to the south and west, Barnstable to the south and east and Plymouth to the north. These three counties would each have a government able to record deeds, operate judicial courts and more closely respond to the needs of the citizens.  
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Massachusetts was the first state to bring a unified state-level recording of these events (but not marriage intentions) in 1841 (Boston excluded until 1850). The associated records of divorce and adoption are handled by the courts. The state has maintained a state-wide index to divorces since 1952, but adoption records will require more researching to discover.<br>
  
Barnstable - The County, Town or Village? Town of [[Barnstable, Massachusetts|Barnstable]] - founded by Rev. John Lothrop and his group after they left Scituate (pronoune Sit'-u-et). September 3, 1639 is the precise birthdate given to Barnstable, which really represents just the best guess of when a band of hardy colonists officially took advantage of Plymouth Colony laws passed in March, 1638 authorizing towns to send deputies to the General Court.
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It is easiest to start with the state vital records for events since 1841, though realize the original record is with the town or city. More details can be found on the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Vital_Records|Massachusetts Genealogy Guide]] page.<br>
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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=== Land Records  ===
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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=== Probate Records  ===
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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=== Other Court Records  ===
  
==== Boundary Changes ====
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The court system can appear to be complex. The system was reorganized in 1686/1692, 1859, and 1978. Described below are the most commonly used records for history and genealogy, but realize that this list is incomplete. For more detailed information regarding court structure, see [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Court_System|Understanding the Massachusetts Court System]].<br><br>Older records are held by:<br>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arccol/colidx.htm#court '''Supreme Judicial Court Archives''']<br>(administration - records stored in several off-site facilities and the Mass. Archives)<br>16th Floor, Highrise Court House<br>3 Pemberton Square<br>Boston MA 02109<br>Phone 617-557-1082<br>Email [mailto:Elizabeth.Bouvier@sjc.state.ma.us Elizabeth.Bouvier@sjc.state.ma.us]
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace ====
  
'''2 June 1685:''' from the [[Plymouth Colony|Plymouth Colony]] lands. <ref> ''Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed.''; Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002 {{WorldCat|50140092}}, {{FHL|1049485|item|disp=FHL Book 973 D27e 2002}}</ref>  
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This court was active from 1692 to 1827. The court heard criminal cases and had authority over county affairs that included levying taxes, reviewing town bylaws, highways, licensed liquor, regulated jails, supervised the administration of the poor laws, and appointed some county officials.<br>  
  
Established as a County in the year 1685, the current boundary lines were drawn in 1707 and have not changed since that date.
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The records microfilmed:<br>
  
==== Record Loss ====
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Inferior Court of Common Pleas ====
  
== Records and Resources  ==
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This court was active from 1692 to 1859. The court heard all civil cases over 40s unless a case involved freehold or was appealed from a justice of the peace.<br>
  
=== Almanacs  ===
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The records microfilmed:<br>
  
=== Archives and libraries ===
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Superior Court ====
  
==== Inventories, registers, catalogs  ====
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The Quarterly Court of General Sessions was merged into the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in 1827, and that court was reorganized in 1859 to created the Superior Court as the new lower (i.e. trial) court. It covers both criminal and civil matters.<br>
  
=== Biography ===
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Supreme Judicial Court ====
  
=== Business records and commerce  ===
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The Supreme Judicial Court was established by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 that combined the former Governor and Council with the Superior Court of Judicature creating the highest state court. This court hears appeals, writ of error, capital offenses, and crimes against the public good. That included divorces until that action was moved to the lower court in 1887.<br>
  
==== Statistics  ====
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*
 
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
=== Cemeteries  ===
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==== Naturalization Records  ====
 
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*For local cemeteries, please refer to specific town/village in "Muncipalities and Communities" below.
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*'''[[Massachusetts Cemeteries Cape Cod|Cemeteries Cape Cod]]'''
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*[http://www.billiongraves.com/pages/cemetery/cemetery.php?cemetery_id=48908 Lothrop Hill Cemetery, Barnstable (Town)] BillionGraves
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=== Census  ===
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{{Census|Massachusetts}}
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==== State  ====
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'''1855'''
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[[Massachusetts 1855 State Census (FamilySearch Historical Records)|''Massachusetts 1855 State Census'']] A free searchable index and images to the 1855 Massachusetts State Census can be viewed on the [https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://www.familysearch.org/searchapi/search/collection/1459985 FamilySearch Historical Records Search]. This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1855, birthplace, occupation, other family members, and neighbors.
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'''1865'''
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[[Massachusetts 1865 State Census (FamilySearch Historical Records)|''Massachusetts 1865 State Census'']] A free searchable index and images to the 1865 Massachusetts State Census can be viewed on the [https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://www.familysearch.org/searchapi/search/collection/1410399 FamilySearch Historical Records Search.] This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1865, birthplace, occupation, other family members, and neighbors.
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==== Maps  ====
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=== Church History and Records (Rural)  ===
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for local churches, please refer to specific town/village in "Muncipalities and Communities" below.
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=== Court records  ===
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[[Image:Gotoarrow.png|go to]] Probate Records for more information.
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=== Court records  ===
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==== Indexes  ====
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=== Description and travel  ===
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=== Directories  ===
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=== Dwellings  ===
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=== Genealogy  ===
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==== Guidebooks  ====
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==== -Periodicals  ====
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=== History  ===
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==== Indexes  ====
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==== Maps  ====
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=== Land and property  ===
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==== Maps ====
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Naturalization records were created on a variety of governmental levels from the Federal down to the city at the same time. The county records for all levels are outlines below. For more information, see the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Naturalization_Records|Massachusetts state page]] for more on naturalization.<br>
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<center>'''Federal Naturalization Records for Barnstable County'''</center> <center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
 
=== Maps  ===
 
=== Maps  ===
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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== Barnstable County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies  ==
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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== Barnstable County Massachusetts Genealogy References  ==
  
=== Native races  ===
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{{reflist}} <!--This was designed by Scott Andrew Bartley in conjunction with the Mass. Wiki Team on 4 September 2013-->
 
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</div>
=== Naturalization and citizenship  ===
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=== Occupations  ===
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=== Probate records  ===
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==== Guardianship  ====
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=== Religion and religious life  ===
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=== Statistics  ===
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=== Town records  ===
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=== Vital records  ===
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*[http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Brownson%2C+Lydia+B.%3B+Norton%2C+Doris+V.%3B+Held%2C+Grace+V.%22&utm_source=June+2012+News+from++the+Sturgis+Library&utm_campaign=June+2012+newsletter&utm_medium=email Genealogical Notes of Cape Cod Families], created in 1966,&nbsp;is a compilation of Cape Cod births, deaths, and marriages from a variety of publications into one series of 50 volumes. It is digitized and online in the [http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Brownson%2C+Lydia+B.%3B+Norton%2C+Doris+V.%3B+Held%2C+Grace+V.%22&utm_source=June+2012+News+from++the+Sturgis+Library&utm_campaign=June+2012+newsletter&utm_medium=email Internet Archive].
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== Societies, Libraries and Museums  ==
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[http://www.falgen.org Falmouth Genealogical Society] serves primarily Upper Cape towns.
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[http://www.capecodgensoc.org Cape Cod Genealogical Society] serves primarily Mid and Lower Cape towns. If you image Cape Cod as an arm with Provincetown as the hand then Upper Cape corresponds with upper arm and lower Cape corresponds with lower arm (even though Lower Cape town of Provincetown at the tip of the peninsula is "higher" than Falmouth which is located in the Upper Cape)
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==== Family History Centers  ====
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*[[Introduction to LDS Family History Centers]]
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*[[Brewster Massachusetts Family History Center]]
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== Websites  ==
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*[http://www.plymouthcolony.net/barnstable/ The Barnstable County MA GenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].  
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Barnstable The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Barnstable County
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Barnstable The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Barnstable County (backup site)
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*[http://www.gurganus.org/ourfamily/county.cfm/state/MA/county/Barnstable%20Co Barnstable County at Our Family Tree]
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== References  ==
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{{reflist}}
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{{Barnstable County, Massachusetts}}{{Massachusetts|Massachusetts}}
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[[Category:Barnstable_County,_Massachusetts]]
 
[[Category:Barnstable_County,_Massachusetts]]

Revision as of 18:26, 4 September 2013

United States go to Massachusetts go to Barnstable County
This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Barnstable. You will find help with town histories, vital records, deeds and land records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, town records, newspapers, maps, and libraries.

Contents

Barnstable County Massachusetts History

Brief History

Barnstable County is often called Cape Cod and both refer to the same region. This is area where the Mayflower first landed at what is now called Provincetown. The area was a frequent stop for early fishermen before the arrival of the Pilgrims, and settlements started here not long after the founding of Plymouth Colony. The earliest records will be found in the Colony's records and those of the individual towns. Plymouth Colony did not establish a county system until 1685. This county became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691. Since settlers generally used the water for transportation, it is not uncommon to find Cape Codders on the coast of Maine, New Jersey, Barbados, and places in between.

Historical Data

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[1] with additions from various sources.

Dates Events
2 June 1685 Barnstable was one of three original counties created by New Plymouth Colony. [Ply. Laws, Ch. 6, p. 19]
7 Oct. 1691 Barnstable became a county in the rechartered Massachusetts Bay Colony with no change to its borders. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 1, Ch. 27 [1692/3], Sec. 1, p. 63]
19 Nov. 1707 Lost the town of Rochester when it was moved into the jurisdiction of Plymouth County. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 21, Ch. 60 [1707], p. 755]
14 Apr. 1897 Border between Bourne and Wareham, Plymouth Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1897, Ch. 281, Sec. 1, p. 258]
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Towns and Cities

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The following list of present-day Barnstable County towns and cities links them to their individual pages. There you will find a list of other names used for the town or city and of villages and sections of the town or city.
Barnstable (1638) - Bourne (1884) - Brewster (1803)
Chatham (1712) - Dennis (1793) - Eastham (1646)
Falmouth (1686) - Harwich (1694) - Mashpee (1870)
Orleans (1797 | Provincetown (1727) | Sandwich (1639)
Truro (1709) | Wellfleet (1775) | Yarmouth (1639)

Annexed to Plymouth County: Rochester (1686) (annexed 1707)

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County Histories

Plymouth CountyBarnstable CountyDukes CountyMarshfieldDuxburyKingstonPlymouthCarverWarehamBourneFalmouthGosnoldTisburySandwichMashpeeBarnstableYarmouthDennisBrewsterHarwichChathamOrleansEasthamWellfleetTruroProvincetown
Modern towns and cities in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

Works written on the county include:

  • Lydia B. Brownson, Grace W. Held, and Doris V. Norton, "Genealogical Notes of Cape Cod Families" (Duxbury, Mass., typ., 1966), 50v.
    This manuscript is part of the Special Collections at the Sturis Library in Barnstable. It is alphabetically by surname and then by given name below that. It is a culmination of research in published histories and genealogies, and from the vital records of the various towns.
    Digital version of the 50 volumes is at Internet Archive. To go directly to an individual volume, use this guide below:
Vol. 01 (Adams to Arnold) Vol. 02 (Athearn to Bailey) Vol. 03 (Baker)
Vol. 04 (Bang to Bassett) Vol. 05 (Bates to Besse) Vol. 06 (Bickford to Borden)
Vol. 07 (Bourne to Briggs) Vol. 08 (Brooks to Busbey) Vol. 09 (Bush to Charter)
Vol. 10 (Chase to Chipman) Vol. 11 (Christie to Coan) Vol. 12 (Cobb to Coleman)
Vol. 13 (Collins to Creed) Vol. 14 (Crispe to Crosby) Vol. 15 (Crowell to Curtiss)
Vol. 16 (Cushman to Dill) Vol. 17 (Dillingham to Dunham) Vol. 18 (Dunster to Eldredge)
Vol. 19 (Ellis to Farris) Vol. 20 (Faunce to Foster) Vol. 21 (Fowell to Fuller)
Vol. 22 (Gage to Gibbs) Vol. 23 (Gifford to Gorham) Vol. 24 (Gould to Hall)
Vol. 25 (Hallett to Handy) Vol. 26 (Harding to Hathaway) Vol. 27 (Hawes to Hillman)
Vol. 28 (Hinckley to Homer) Vol. 29 (Hopkins to Howes) Vol. 30 (Howland to Jenney)
Vol. 31 (Jennings to Kinney) Vol. 32 (Kendrick to Leonard) Vol. 33 (Lewis to Loring)
Vol. 34 (Lothrop to Marsh) Vol. 35 (Marchant to Merrick) Vol. 36 (Merry to Nichols)
Vol. 37 (Nickerson to Norton) Vol. 38 (Nye to Paine) Vol. 39 (Palmer to Perry)
Vol. 40 (Phillips to Purrington) Vol. 41 (Redding to Robinson) Vol. 42 (Rogers to Seabury)
Vol. 43 (Sears to Smalley) Vol. 44 (Smith to Soper) Vol. 45 (Soule to Sweat)
Vol. 46 (Swift to Thayer) Vol. 47 (Thaxter to Twining) Vol. 48 (Underwood to West)
Vol. 49 (Weston to Wilson) Vol. 50 (Wing to Young)

IN PROGRESS

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Barnstable County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources

Vital Records

In Massachusetts, the original vital records (of births, marriages, and deaths) have been created and maintained by the town or city in which the event occurred. In very early colonial times, copies of these records were submitted to the county, but that practice died out before 1800. There were marriage intentions commonly recorded in the bride's home town and additional recordings maybe found in the groom's home town and their current residence.

Massachusetts was the first state to bring a unified state-level recording of these events (but not marriage intentions) in 1841 (Boston excluded until 1850). The associated records of divorce and adoption are handled by the courts. The state has maintained a state-wide index to divorces since 1952, but adoption records will require more researching to discover.

It is easiest to start with the state vital records for events since 1841, though realize the original record is with the town or city. More details can be found on the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide page.

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Land Records

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Probate Records

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Other Court Records

The court system can appear to be complex. The system was reorganized in 1686/1692, 1859, and 1978. Described below are the most commonly used records for history and genealogy, but realize that this list is incomplete. For more detailed information regarding court structure, see Understanding the Massachusetts Court System.

Older records are held by:
Supreme Judicial Court Archives
(administration - records stored in several off-site facilities and the Mass. Archives)
16th Floor, Highrise Court House
3 Pemberton Square
Boston MA 02109
Phone 617-557-1082
Email Elizabeth.Bouvier@sjc.state.ma.us

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Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace

This court was active from 1692 to 1827. The court heard criminal cases and had authority over county affairs that included levying taxes, reviewing town bylaws, highways, licensed liquor, regulated jails, supervised the administration of the poor laws, and appointed some county officials.

The records microfilmed:

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Inferior Court of Common Pleas

This court was active from 1692 to 1859. The court heard all civil cases over 40s unless a case involved freehold or was appealed from a justice of the peace.

The records microfilmed:

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Superior Court

The Quarterly Court of General Sessions was merged into the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in 1827, and that court was reorganized in 1859 to created the Superior Court as the new lower (i.e. trial) court. It covers both criminal and civil matters.

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Supreme Judicial Court

The Supreme Judicial Court was established by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 that combined the former Governor and Council with the Superior Court of Judicature creating the highest state court. This court hears appeals, writ of error, capital offenses, and crimes against the public good. That included divorces until that action was moved to the lower court in 1887.

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Naturalization Records

Naturalization records were created on a variety of governmental levels from the Federal down to the city at the same time. The county records for all levels are outlines below. For more information, see the Massachusetts state page for more on naturalization.

Federal Naturalization Records for Barnstable County
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Maps

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Barnstable County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies

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Barnstable County Massachusetts Genealogy References