Bristol County, Massachusetts

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''[[United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Bristol_County,_Massachusetts|Bristol County]]''<br><br>{{MADC}}
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''[[United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide|Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Bristol_County,_Massachusetts|Bristol County]]''<br>  
  
{{Infobox U.S. County
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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Bristol. 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>  
| county = Bristol County
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| county_map = Ma-bristol.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 = Taunton
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| building image =
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| building address = Bristol County Courthouse<br> 9 Court Street<br>Taunton, MA 02780-3223<br>Phone: 508.824.9681<br>[http://www.countyofbristol.net/ '''Bristol County Website'''] }}
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=== [http://www.countyofbristol.net/ County Courthouse] ===
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== Bristol County Massachusetts History ==
  
'''''Clerk of the courts&nbsp;''''' has court records from 1796 and naturalization records; '''''town clerks&nbsp;''''' have birth, marrriage and death records, marriage and death records; '''''Probate Court&nbsp;''''' has divorce records 1921 and probate records<ref name="HBG">''The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America'', 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 329. {{WorldCat|50140092|disp=At various libraries (WorldCat)}}; {{FHL|1049485|item|disp=FHL Book 973 D27e 2002}}.</ref>
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=== Brief History  ===
  
'''Towns Organized Before 1800: '''<br>Attleboro 1694, <br>Berkley 1735, <br>Dartmouth 1652, <br>Dighton 1712, <br>Easton 1725, <br>Freetown 1683, <br>Manfield 1770, <br>New Bedford 1787, <br>Norton 1710, <br>Raynham 1731, <br>Rehoboth 1645, <br>Sandwich 1638, <br>Somerset 1790, <br>Swansea 1667, <br>Taunton 1639, <br>Westport 1787
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Bristol County was settled by the Pilgrims who came from older towns in what is now Plymouth County. The area was at the center of the King Philip's War in 1675/6 and many settlers temporary moved back to the east. Though records are on a county system for land and probate records, the is divided into several districts for each.<br>  
  
=== History ===
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=== Historical Data ===
  
==== Parent County ====
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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#BRISTOL Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries]</ref> with additions from various sources.
  
*Created 2 June 1685 from [[Plymouth Colony|Plymouth Colony]] lands. <ref name="HBG">[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/50140092referer=brief_results ''Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed.''] (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 181. [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].</ref>
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{| cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" border="1"
*Bristol County is one of very few counties that border on another county with same name - [[Bristol County, Rhode Island|Bristol County]], Rhode Island.
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|-
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! width="100" scope="col" | Dates
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! width="500" scope="col" | Events
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|-
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| 2 June 1685  
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| Bristol was one of the three original counties of New Plymouth Colony. [Ply. Laws, Ch. 6, p. 19]
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|-
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| 7 Oct. 1691
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| Bristol 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]
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|-
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| 18 Mar. 1711/2
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| The "Old Colony Line" between the former Massachusetts Bay Colony and New Plymouth Colony declared the northern border with Suffolk County - no change. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 21, Ch. 152 [1711], p. 799]
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|-
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| 17 Feb. 1746/7
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| Lost about 130 square miles of its western border to Rhode Island by implementation of a Royal settlement moving the towns of Barrington, Bristol, Little Compton, Tiverton, and a large portion of what would become Cumberland into that province.
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|-
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| 18 Feb. 1830
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| Border between Attleborough and Wrentham, Norfolk Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1830, Ch. 48, p. 319]
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|-
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| 9 Apr. 1836
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| Border redefined between Fairhaven and Rochester, Plymouth Co. [Mass. Acts, 1836, Ch. 193, Sec. 1, p. 876]
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|-
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| 1 Mar. 1862
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| Gained from Tiverton, Newport Co., R.I., and Warren, Bristol Co., R.I., and lost to Providence Co., R.I., to what became East Providence and the eastern part of Pawtucket. [R.I. Acts, 1861, Ch. 379, p. 4-6]
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|-
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| 1 June 1867
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| Border between Taunton and Lakeville, Plymouth Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1867, Ch. 352, Sec. 1, p. 745]
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|}
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<div style="width: 147%"><center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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=== Towns and Cities  ===
  
==== Boundary Changes ====
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[[Image:Ma-bristol.png|right|400px|Ma-bristol.png]]The following list of present-day Bristol 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>[[Acushnet, Massachusetts|Acushnet (1860)]] | [[Attleboro, Massachusetts|Attleboro (1694)]] | [[Berkley, Massachusetts|Berkley (1735)]]<br>[[Dartmouth, Massachusetts|Dartmouth (1664)]] | [[Dighton, Massachusetts|Dighton (1712)]] | [[Easton, Massachusetts|Easton (1725)]]<br>[[Fairhaven, Massachusetts|Fairhaven (1812)]] | [[Fall River, Massachusetts|Fall River (1803)]] | [[Freetown, Massachusetts|Freetown (1683)]]<br>[[Mansfield, Massachusetts|Mansfield (1775)]] | [[New Bedford, Massachusetts|New Bedford (1787)]] | [[North Attleborough, Massachusetts|North Attleborough (1887)]]<br>[[Norton, Massachusetts|Norton (1711)]] | [[Raynham, Massachusetts|Raynham (1731)]] | [[Rehoboth, Massachusetts|Rehoboth (1645)]]<br>[[Seekonk, Massachusetts|Seekonk (1812)]] | [[Somerset, Massachusetts|Somerset (1790)]] | [[Swansea, Massachusetts|Swansea (1667)]]<br>[[Taunton, Massachusetts|Taunton (1639)]] | [[Westport, Massachusetts|Westport (1787)]]</center><br>
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'''Annexed to Rhode Island in 1747:'''<br>[[Barrington, Rhode Island|Barrington (1717)]] | [[Bristol, Rhode Island|Bristol (1680)]] | [[Little Compton, Rhode Island|Little Compton (1674)]] | [[Tiverton, Rhode Island|Tiverton (1694)]]
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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=== County Histories ===
  
*In 1746, Bristol, Barrington, and Warren were awarded to Bristol County Rhode Island.&nbsp; At the same time, part of Attleborough, Massachusetts was annexed to Cumberland, Providence, Rhode Island. And Tiverton and Little Compton were transferred to Newport County, Rhode Island.
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{{MABriCouTownsMap}}Works written on the county include:<br>  
*In 1862, part of Seekonk (now East Providence, Rhode Island) and the entirety of East Pawtucket were transferred to Providence County, Rhode Island. At the same time, land ceded from Rhode Island was added to Fall River and Westport.<br>
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=== Record Loss  ===
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IN PROGRESS
<div style="float: left; width: 147%">
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=== Places / Localities  ===
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{{MABriCouTownsMap}}'''Cities:&nbsp;''' [[Attleboro, Massachusetts|Attleboro]] | [[Fall River, Massachusetts|Fall River]] | [[New Bedford, Massachusetts|New Bedford]] | [[Taunton, Massachusetts|Taunton]]  
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*[http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mabristo/mabristo.htm The Bristol County MAGenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].<br>
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Bristol The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Bristol County .<br>
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*{{FHL|Massachusetts%2C+Bristol|subject|disp=FamilySearch.org}} Family History Library catalog for Bristol County.<br>
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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== Bristol County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources  ==
  
'''Towns:&nbsp;''' [[Acushnet, Massachusetts|Acushnet]] | [[Berkley, Massachusetts|Berkley]] | [[Dartmouth, Massachusetts|Dartmouth]] | [[Dighton, Massachusetts|Dighton]] | [[Easton, Massachusetts|Easton]] | [[Fairhaven, Massachusetts|Fairhaven]] | [[Freetown, Massachusetts|Freetown]] | [[Mansfield, Massachusetts|Mansfield]] | [[North Attleborough, Massachusetts|North Attleborough]] | [[Norton, Massachusetts|Norton]] | [[Raynham, Massachusetts|Raynham]] | [[Rehoboth, Massachusetts|Rehoboth]] | [[Seekonk, Massachusetts|Seekonk]] | [[Somerset, Massachusetts|Somerset]] | [[Swansea, Massachusetts|Swansea]] | [[Westport, Massachusetts|Westport]]
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=== Vital Records  ===
  
'''Ceded or Extinct Towns:&nbsp;''' [[Barrington, Rhode Island|Barrington]] | [[Bristol, Rhode Island|Bristol]] | [[Little Compton, Rhode Island|Little Compton]] | [[Pawtucket, Rhode Island|Pawtucket]] | [[Tiverton, Rhode Island|Tiverton]] | [[Wellington, Massachusetts|Wellington]]<ref>Michael J. Leclerc, ''Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research'', 5th ed. (Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012), 224-26. {{WorldCat|779626228|disp=At various libraries (WorldCat)}}; {{FHL|1967587|item|disp=FHL Book 974 D27g 2012}}.</ref>  
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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 long before 1700. 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>  
  
==== Neighboring Counties  ====
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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>
  
[[Norfolk County, Massachusetts|Norfolk]] | [[Plymouth County, Massachusetts|Plymouth]] | '''Rhode Island''' counties: [[Bristol County, Rhode Island|Bristol]] | [[Newport County, Rhode Island|Newport]] | [[Providence County, Rhode Island|Providence]]  
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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><br>
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=== Probate Records  ===
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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=== Other Court Records  ===
  
=== Resources ===
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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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==== County Court ====
  
==== Cemeteries  ====
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This court was active from 1636 (called a quarterly court and then the county court when Suffolk was created in 1643) to 1692. The court heard all civil causes up to 10 shillings (raised to 40 shillings in 1647) and all criminal causes not concerning life, limb, or banishment. These were all jury trials. Some records can be found in the [Suffolk_County,_Massachusetts#Suffolk_Files|Suffolk Files].<br>
  
*[http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=csr&CScn=&CScntry=4&CSst=21&CScnty=1175 Cemeteries of Bristol county Massachusetts] at Find A Grave
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The records microfilmed:<br>  
*[http://plymouthcolony.net/bcd/index.html Bristol county Massachusetts Cemeteries Database] at The Plymouth Colony Pages
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*[http://plymouthcolony.net/rehoboth/cemeteries.html Rehoboth Cemeteries and Cemetery Transcriptions] at USGenWeb<br>
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Individual cemeteries:
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*
  
*[http://www.billiongraves.com/pages/cemetery/cemetery.php?cemetery_id=48318 Oak Grove Cemetery, Fall River] BillionGraves
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At the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Massachusetts Archives]]:<br>
  
==== Census ====
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*
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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 ====
  
{{Census|Massachusetts}}
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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>
  
===== State Census  =====
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The records microfilmed:<br>
  
'''''1855 Massachusetts 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 Record 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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*
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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  ====
  
'''''1865 Massachusetts 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 Record 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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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>
  
==== Church  ====
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The records microfilmed:<br>
  
==== Directories ====
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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 ====
  
*Fall River: [http://www.archive.org/details/fallriverdirecto27bost 1896]&nbsp;| [http://www.archive.org/details/fallrivermassach19051samp 1905 part 1] |&nbsp;[http://www.archive.org/details/fallriverdirecto1915bost 1915] |&nbsp;[http://www.archive.org/details/fallriverdirecto1918bost 1918]&nbsp;| [http://www.archive.org/details/fallriverdirecto1921bost 1921]&nbsp;
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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>
 
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==== Court ====
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==== Gazetteers  ====
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==== Land  ====
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There are three Registry of Deeds in the county, located at
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*Fall River - Fall River District Registry of Deeds<br>
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*New Bedford - Southern District Registry of Deeds<br>
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*Taunton - Northern District Registry of Deeds<br>
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==== Local Histories  ====
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[http://books.google.com/books?id=hyjMIY-vxX8C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false History of Rehoboth Massachusetts] by George H. Tilton at Google Books
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[http://archive.org/details/historyofbristol01hurd History of Bristol County, Massachusetts] by Duane Hamiton Hurd at Internet Archive
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==== Maps  ====
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==== Military  ====
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==== Newspapers  ====
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==== Probate  ====
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==== Taxation  ====
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==== Vital Records  ====
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== Societies and Libraries  ==
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{| border="0" style="float: right;"
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|-
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| {{Adoption RootsWorks Research}}
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|-
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| align="center" | {{Wikipedia|Bristol County, Massachusetts}}
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|}
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==== Family History Centers ====
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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 ====
  
*[[Introduction to LDS Family History Centers]]
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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>
*[[North Dartmouth Massachusetts Family History Center]]
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== Web Sites ==
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Naturalization Records ====
  
*[http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mabristo/mabristo.htm The Bristol County MAGenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].
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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>
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Bristol The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Bristol County  
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<center>'''Federal Naturalization Records for Bristol County'''</center> <center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Bristol The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Bristol County (backup site)
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=== Maps  ===
*{{FHL|Massachusetts%2C+Bristol|subject|disp=FamilySearch.org}} Family History Library catalog for Bristol County
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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== Bristol County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies  ==
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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== Bristol County Massachusetts Genealogy References  ==
  
== References  ==
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{{reflist}} <!--This was designed by Scott Andrew Bartley in conjunction with the Mass. Wiki Team on 4 September 2013-->
{{reflist}} {{Massachusetts|Massachusetts}} {{Massachusetts-stub}} </div>  
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</div>  
 
[[Category:Bristol_County,_Massachusetts]]
 
[[Category:Bristol_County,_Massachusetts]]

Revision as of 23:20, 4 September 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Bristol County

This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Bristol. 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

Bristol County Massachusetts History

Brief History

Bristol County was settled by the Pilgrims who came from older towns in what is now Plymouth County. The area was at the center of the King Philip's War in 1675/6 and many settlers temporary moved back to the east. Though records are on a county system for land and probate records, the is divided into several districts for each.

Historical Data

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

Dates Events
2 June 1685 Bristol was one of the three original counties of New Plymouth Colony. [Ply. Laws, Ch. 6, p. 19]
7 Oct. 1691 Bristol 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]
18 Mar. 1711/2 The "Old Colony Line" between the former Massachusetts Bay Colony and New Plymouth Colony declared the northern border with Suffolk County - no change. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 21, Ch. 152 [1711], p. 799]
17 Feb. 1746/7 Lost about 130 square miles of its western border to Rhode Island by implementation of a Royal settlement moving the towns of Barrington, Bristol, Little Compton, Tiverton, and a large portion of what would become Cumberland into that province.
18 Feb. 1830 Border between Attleborough and Wrentham, Norfolk Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1830, Ch. 48, p. 319]
9 Apr. 1836 Border redefined between Fairhaven and Rochester, Plymouth Co. [Mass. Acts, 1836, Ch. 193, Sec. 1, p. 876]
1 Mar. 1862 Gained from Tiverton, Newport Co., R.I., and Warren, Bristol Co., R.I., and lost to Providence Co., R.I., to what became East Providence and the eastern part of Pawtucket. [R.I. Acts, 1861, Ch. 379, p. 4-6]
1 June 1867 Border between Taunton and Lakeville, Plymouth Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1867, Ch. 352, Sec. 1, p. 745]
Top of Page

Towns and Cities

Ma-bristol.png
The following list of present-day Bristol 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.
Acushnet (1860) | Attleboro (1694) | Berkley (1735)
Dartmouth (1664) | Dighton (1712) | Easton (1725)
Fairhaven (1812) | Fall River (1803) | Freetown (1683)
Mansfield (1775) | New Bedford (1787) | North Attleborough (1887)
Norton (1711) | Raynham (1731) | Rehoboth (1645)
Seekonk (1812) | Somerset (1790) | Swansea (1667)
Taunton (1639) | Westport (1787)

Annexed to Rhode Island in 1747:
Barrington (1717) | Bristol (1680) | Little Compton (1674) | Tiverton (1694)

Top of Page

County Histories

MassachusettsBristol CountyNewport CountyPlympton CountyNorfolk CountyDukes CountyNewport CountyWashington CountyKent CountyProvidence CountyBistol CountyWestportDartmouthNew BedfordFairhavenAcushnetFall RiverFreetownBerkleyTauntonRaynhamEastonMansfieldNortonNorth AttleboroughAttleboroSeekonkRehobothDightonSwanseaSomersetPlainvilleWrenthamFranklinMedwayNorfolkWalpoleSharonFoxboroughStoughtonAvonGosnoldBroctonAbingtonRocklandHanoverNorwellPembrokeHansonWhitmanEast BridgewaterWest BridgewaterBridgewaterHalifaxPlymouthCarverMiddleboroughLakevilleRochesterMarionMattapoisettRhode IslandNarragansettNorth KingstonWarwickCranstonProvidenceNorth ProvidenceLincolnCumberlandCentral FallsPawtucketEast ProvidenceBarringtonWarrenBristolPortsmouthMiddletownNewportJamestownTivertonLittle Compton
Modern towns and cities in Bristol County, Massachusetts.

Works written on the county include:

IN PROGRESS

Top of Page

Bristol 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 long before 1700. 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.

Top of Page

Land Records

Top of Page

Probate Records

Top of Page

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

Top of Page | Top of Court

County Court

This court was active from 1636 (called a quarterly court and then the county court when Suffolk was created in 1643) to 1692. The court heard all civil causes up to 10 shillings (raised to 40 shillings in 1647) and all criminal causes not concerning life, limb, or banishment. These were all jury trials. Some records can be found in the [Suffolk_County,_Massachusetts#Suffolk_Files|Suffolk Files].

The records microfilmed:

At the Massachusetts Archives:

Top of Page | Top of Court

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:

Top of Page | Top of Court

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:

Top of Page | Top of Court

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.

Top of Page | Top of Court

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.

Top of Page | Top of Court

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 Bristol County
Top of Page | Top of Court

Maps

Top of Page

Bristol County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies

Top of Page

Bristol County Massachusetts Genealogy References