Essex County, Massachusetts

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''[[United States|United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide|Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Essex_County,_Massachusetts|Essex County]]''  
 
''[[United States|United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide|Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Essex_County,_Massachusetts|Essex County]]''  
  
This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Plymouth. 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.  
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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Essex. 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.  
  
 
== Essex County Massachusetts History  ==
 
== Essex County Massachusetts History  ==
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=== Historical Data  ===
 
=== Historical Data  ===
  
The basic data are from the historical county boundary series<ref>[http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/documents/MA_Individual_County_Chronologies.htm#SUFFOLK Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries]</ref> with additions from various sources.  
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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#ESSEX Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries]</ref> with additions from various sources.  
  
 
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| Land exchanged between Lynnfield and Reading, Middlesex Co.
 
| Land exchanged between Lynnfield and Reading, Middlesex Co.
 
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=== Towns and Cities  ===
 
=== Towns and Cities  ===
  
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Essex The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Essex County (backup site).<br>  
 
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Essex The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Essex County (backup site).<br>  
 
*{{FHL|Massachusetts%2C+Essex|subject|disp=FamilySearch.org}} Family History Library catalog for Essex County.<br>
 
*{{FHL|Massachusetts%2C+Essex|subject|disp=FamilySearch.org}} Family History Library catalog for Essex County.<br>
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== Essex County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources  ==
 
== Essex County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources  ==
  
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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>  
 
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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=== Land Records and Atlases  ===
 
=== Land Records and Atlases  ===
  
 
Land transfers, commonly called deeds, are recorded on the county level in Massachusetts. Not all deeds were recorded as is common practice today. The earliest transactions were charters or grants from the English Crown. Once local government was established, the colony would grant land to settlers directly or to towns to dole out. Some towns first start out as proprietorship and records were recorded there. Once towns were established, deeds were recorded on the county level. Essex County is divided into two districts. The county was one district until the creation of the Northern District in '''1869'''.<br>  
 
Land transfers, commonly called deeds, are recorded on the county level in Massachusetts. Not all deeds were recorded as is common practice today. The earliest transactions were charters or grants from the English Crown. Once local government was established, the colony would grant land to settlers directly or to towns to dole out. Some towns first start out as proprietorship and records were recorded there. Once towns were established, deeds were recorded on the county level. Essex County is divided into two districts. The county was one district until the creation of the Northern District in '''1869'''.<br>  
  
[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/rod/rodnrthessex/nrthessexidx.htm '''Northern Essex Registry of Deeds''']<br>354 Merrimack Street Suite #304 (Entry C)<br>Lawrence MA 01843<br>Phone 978-683-2745<br>Email [mailto:Lawrence.Deeds@sec.state.ma.us Lawrence.Deeds@sec.state.ma.us]<br>This district includes Andover, Lawrence, Methuen, and North Andover.br&gt;
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[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/rod/rodnrthessex/nrthessexidx.htm '''Northern Essex Registry of Deeds''']<br>354 Merrimack Street Suite #304 (Entry C)<br>Lawrence MA 01843<br>Phone 978-683-2745<br>Email [mailto:Lawrence.Deeds@sec.state.ma.us Lawrence.Deeds@sec.state.ma.us]<br>This district includes Andover, Lawrence, Methuen, and North Andover.<br>
 
<center>'''Original records'''</center>  
 
<center>'''Original records'''</center>  
 
The records since 1986 (indexes and other records are earlier) can be viewed from their new (as of 23 July 2013) [http://50.241.73.83/alis/ww400r Search Page]. Click on the specific search you want from the menu at the left.<br><br>Their older records are stored at the Southern District office. To view the originals, call ahead to determine where to go.<br>  
 
The records since 1986 (indexes and other records are earlier) can be viewed from their new (as of 23 July 2013) [http://50.241.73.83/alis/ww400r Search Page]. Click on the specific search you want from the menu at the left.<br><br>Their older records are stored at the Southern District office. To view the originals, call ahead to determine where to go.<br>  
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*H. F. Walling, "Essex County, Massachusetts Land Ownership Map, 1856.<br>{{FHL|1275351|item|disp=FHL fiche 6079547}}.<br>  
 
*H. F. Walling, "Essex County, Massachusetts Land Ownership Map, 1856.<br>{{FHL|1275351|item|disp=FHL fiche 6079547}}.<br>  
 
*George H. Walker &amp; Co., Essex County, Massachusetts, Map, 1884.<br>{{FHL|499752|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 E7om}} (southern) and {{FHL|359122|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 E7o}} (northern).<br>
 
*George H. Walker &amp; Co., Essex County, Massachusetts, Map, 1884.<br>{{FHL|499752|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 E7om}} (southern) and {{FHL|359122|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 E7o}} (northern).<br>
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=== Probate Records  ===
 
=== Probate Records  ===
  
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*George Francis Dow, ''Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts'', [1635-1681] (Salem, Mass., 1916-1920), 3v.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/2570610 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|263397|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 P2p v. # or film 1033717}} or {{FHL|1400122|item|disp=FHL digital link}}.<br>Digital versions at Internet Archive ([http://archive.org/details/probaterecordsof01mass v. 1], [http://archive.org/details/probaterecordsof02mass v. 2], and [http://archive.org/details/probaterecordsof03dowg v. 3]), Google Books ([http://books.google.com/books?id=Lb0TAAAAYAAJ v. 1], [http://books.google.com/books?id=pl8mAQAAMAAJ v. 2], and [http://books.google.com/books?id=XAwMAAAAYAAJ v. 3]), and [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6593 Ancestry] ($).<br>  
 
*George Francis Dow, ''Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts'', [1635-1681] (Salem, Mass., 1916-1920), 3v.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/2570610 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|263397|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 P2p v. # or film 1033717}} or {{FHL|1400122|item|disp=FHL digital link}}.<br>Digital versions at Internet Archive ([http://archive.org/details/probaterecordsof01mass v. 1], [http://archive.org/details/probaterecordsof02mass v. 2], and [http://archive.org/details/probaterecordsof03dowg v. 3]), Google Books ([http://books.google.com/books?id=Lb0TAAAAYAAJ v. 1], [http://books.google.com/books?id=pl8mAQAAMAAJ v. 2], and [http://books.google.com/books?id=XAwMAAAAYAAJ v. 3]), and [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6593 Ancestry] ($).<br>  
 
*Melinde Lutz Sanborn, "Essex County, Massachusetts Probate Records, Supplement" ([Derry, N.H.], 1998), a database, online at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3357 Ancestry] ($).<br>Regarding the source records: If the volume is a Roman numeral the records were published in Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, volumes 1-9 (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1911-1975). If the volume number is an Arabic numeral the records can be found in the unpublished typescript copies done by the WPA, and in the custody of the Peabody Essex Museum at the James Duncan Phillips Library. Volume 53 is missing from that collection, and as a result there are no entries in this database from the September 1692 to March 1693 courts.<br>
 
*Melinde Lutz Sanborn, "Essex County, Massachusetts Probate Records, Supplement" ([Derry, N.H.], 1998), a database, online at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3357 Ancestry] ($).<br>Regarding the source records: If the volume is a Roman numeral the records were published in Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, volumes 1-9 (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1911-1975). If the volume number is an Arabic numeral the records can be found in the unpublished typescript copies done by the WPA, and in the custody of the Peabody Essex Museum at the James Duncan Phillips Library. Volume 53 is missing from that collection, and as a result there are no entries in this database from the September 1692 to March 1693 courts.<br>
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=== Other Court Records  ===
 
=== Other Court Records  ===
  
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*''Records and files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County Massachusetts'' [1636-1686] (Salem, Mass., 1911-1921, 1975), 9v.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1443551 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|172653|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 P2e v. # or films 873951-873954}}.<br>Digital versions from the table below:<br>
 
*''Records and files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County Massachusetts'' [1636-1686] (Salem, Mass., 1911-1921, 1975), 9v.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1443551 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|172653|item|disp=FHL book 974.45 P2e v. # or films 873951-873954}}.<br>Digital versions from the table below:<br>
  
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! colspan="4" | Digital versions of the Essex Quarterly Court
 
! colspan="4" | Digital versions of the Essex Quarterly Court
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*Melinde Lutz Sanborn, "Essex County, Massachusetts Depositions, 1636-86" online at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=5342 Ancestry] ($).<br>  
 
*Melinde Lutz Sanborn, "Essex County, Massachusetts Depositions, 1636-86" online at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=5342 Ancestry] ($).<br>  
 
*Else L. Hambleton, ''Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts'' (New York, 2004), xix, 192 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54694519 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; Not at FHL.<br>A study of cases of fornication, bastardy, and paternity cases brought before the courts in Essex County between 1640 and 1692.<br>
 
*Else L. Hambleton, ''Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts'' (New York, 2004), xix, 192 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54694519 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; Not at FHL.<br>A study of cases of fornication, bastardy, and paternity cases brought before the courts in Essex County between 1640 and 1692.<br>
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==== Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace  ====
 
==== Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace  ====
  
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*Essex County Court index, 1636-1692, and Court of Common Pleas index, 1692-1694 [''seven double-paged typescript volumes''], at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>  
 
*Essex County Court index, 1636-1692, and Court of Common Pleas index, 1692-1694 [''seven double-paged typescript volumes''], at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>  
 
*Essex County Consolidated Index (Court of Common Pleas, 1749-1859; Superior Court, 1859-1904; Supreme Judicial Court, 1797-1904), at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>
 
*Essex County Consolidated Index (Court of Common Pleas, 1749-1859; Superior Court, 1859-1904; Supreme Judicial Court, 1797-1904), at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>
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==== Superior Court  ====
 
==== Superior Court  ====
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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>
  
 
*Court records, v. 130-142 (1859-1865), {{FHL|426294|item|disp=FHL films 877458-877460}}.<br>  
 
*Court records, v. 130-142 (1859-1865), {{FHL|426294|item|disp=FHL films 877458-877460}}.<br>  
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==== Supreme Judicial Court  ====
 
==== Supreme Judicial Court  ====
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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>
  
 
*Court dockets, 1802-1812, and Court records, 1797-1826, {{FHL|36105|item|disp=FHL films 877435-877439}}.<br>  
 
*Court dockets, 1802-1812, and Court records, 1797-1826, {{FHL|36105|item|disp=FHL films 877435-877439}}.<br>  
 
*Supreme Judicial Court, Salem Witchcraft trials, v. 1-4, at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]] and {{FHL|30982|item|disp=FHL film 877465 Item 2}} (papers).<br>For the trial and more, see the [http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html Salem Witch Trails Documentary Archive and Transcription Project].<br>  
 
*Supreme Judicial Court, Salem Witchcraft trials, v. 1-4, at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]] and {{FHL|30982|item|disp=FHL film 877465 Item 2}} (papers).<br>For the trial and more, see the [http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html Salem Witch Trails Documentary Archive and Transcription Project].<br>  
 
*Essex County Consolidated Index (Court of Common Pleas, 1749-1859; Superior Court, 1859-1904; Supreme Judicial Court, 1797-1904), at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>
 
*Essex County Consolidated Index (Court of Common Pleas, 1749-1859; Superior Court, 1859-1904; Supreme Judicial Court, 1797-1904), at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>
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==== Naturalization Records  ====
 
==== Naturalization Records  ====
  
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==== Miscellaneous Court Records  ====
 
==== Miscellaneous Court Records  ====
  
 
*Vital records filed with the County Court, 1636-1692, and Court of General Sessions of the Peace, 1692-1795, {{FHL|36038|item|disp=FHL film 877432 (1st of 3)}}.<br>  
 
*Vital records filed with the County Court, 1636-1692, and Court of General Sessions of the Peace, 1692-1795, {{FHL|36038|item|disp=FHL film 877432 (1st of 3)}}.<br>  
 
*Notary Public record books, 1723-1769, at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>
 
*Notary Public record books, 1723-1769, at the [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Archives|Mass. Archives]].<br>
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=== Essex County Massachusetts Societies and Libraries  ===
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== Essex County Massachusetts Societies and Libraries  ==
  
 
[http://www.esog.org/index.php '''Essex Society of Genealogists''']<br>PO Box 313<br>Lynnfield MA 01940-0313<br>This society is based at the Lynnfield Public Library where they house their collections.<br>  
 
[http://www.esog.org/index.php '''Essex Society of Genealogists''']<br>PO Box 313<br>Lynnfield MA 01940-0313<br>This society is based at the Lynnfield Public Library where they house their collections.<br>  
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[http://www.pem.org/library/ '''James Duncan Phillips Library''']<br>Peabody Essex Museum<br>132 Essex Street<br>Salem MA 01970<br>Phone 978-745-9500 x3053<br>This is the premier repository for Essex County research. The have large print and manuscript collections focused on pre-1860 material. This is the facility for government records on Essex County including the original court records, customhouse records, maritime records, and (on microfilm) probate records. The paper catalog is in process of conversion to their [http://www.pem.org/library/catalog online catalog].<br>  
 
[http://www.pem.org/library/ '''James Duncan Phillips Library''']<br>Peabody Essex Museum<br>132 Essex Street<br>Salem MA 01970<br>Phone 978-745-9500 x3053<br>This is the premier repository for Essex County research. The have large print and manuscript collections focused on pre-1860 material. This is the facility for government records on Essex County including the original court records, customhouse records, maritime records, and (on microfilm) probate records. The paper catalog is in process of conversion to their [http://www.pem.org/library/catalog online catalog].<br>  
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== Essex County Massachusetts Genealogy References  ==
 
== Essex County Massachusetts Genealogy References  ==
  
{{reflist}} <!--This was designed by Scott Andrew Bartley in conjunction with the Mass. Wiki Team on 19 August 2013-->  
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[[Category:Essex_County_Massachusetts_Genealogy]]
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[[Category:Essex_County,_Massachusetts]] [[Category:Massachusetts_counties]]

Revision as of 14:45, 4 September 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Essex County

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

Essex County Massachusetts History

Brief History

Essex County was one of the four original counties when Massachusetts Bay Colony created counties in 1643 which includes the area known as Cape Ann. The only major change came with the addition of three miles on the northern border when the Old Norfolk County was eliminated in 1680. It was first settled in 1623. This was a major port for the United States through the late 1800s. Fishing was a thriving industry from the beginning, and is still notable in Gloucester. The most popular historical event was the witch trials of Salem in 1692. Haverhill, on the Merrimack River, became one of the centers of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s. As the city expanded with all the immigrant growth, the city annexed the town of Bradford on the south side of the river. The county government was abolished on 1 July 1999, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.[1]

Historical Data

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[2] with additions from various sources.

Dates Events
10 May 1643 Essex County created as one of the four original counties formed out of Massachusetts Bay Colony. [Mass. Rec., 2: 38]
26 May 1658 Andover gained 15 acres from Billerica, Middlesex Co.
18 Sept. 1679 Gained three miles north of the Merrimack River when the Old Norfolk County was dissolved adding the then towns of Haverhill and Salisbury.
22 Feb. 1841 Gained from part of Chelsea, Suffolk Co., annexed to Saugus.
10 Apr. 1854 Loss from part of Lynnfield annexed to Reading, Middlesex Co.
7 Jan. 1858 Lost from part of Lynnfield annexed to North Reading, Middlesex Co.
18 Sept. 1933 Loss from part of Saugus annexed to Wakefield, Middlesex Co.
10 Apr. 1947 Land exchanged between Lynnfield and Reading, Middlesex Co.
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Towns and Cities

Ma-essex.png
The following list of present-day Plymouth 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.
Amesbury (1668) - Andover (1646) - Beverly (1668) - Boxford (1694)
Danvers (1752) - Essex (1819) - Georgetown (1838) - Gloucester (1642)
Groveland (1850) - Hamilton (1793) - Haverhill (1641) - Ipswich (1634)
Lawrence (1847) - Lynn (1635) - Lynnfield (1782) - Manchester (1645)
Marblehead (1633) - Merrimac (1876) - Methuen (1725) - Middleton (1728)
Nahant (1853) - Newbury (1635) - Newburyport (1764) - North Andover (1855)
Peabody (1855) - Rockport (1840) - Rowley (1639) - Salem (1630)
Salisbury (1639) - Saugus (1815) - Swampscott (1852) - Topsfield (1648)
Wenham (1643) - West Newbury (1819)

Extinct Town: Bradford (1675)

County Histories

MassachusettsEssex CountyMiddlesex CountySuffolk CountyNew HampshireRockingham CountyHillsborough CountySaugusLynnNahantSwampscottMarbleheadSalemPeabodyDanversBeverlyManchester-by-the-seaGloucesterRockportEssexHamiltonWenhamTopsfieldIpswichRowleyNewburyNewburyportSalisburyAmesburyMerrimacHaverhillMethuenAndoverLawrenceNorth AndoverBoxfordGeorgetownGrovelandWest NewburyMiddletonLynnfieldPelhamBostonBrooklineNewtonWestonWaylandLincolnConcordCarlisleChelmsfordLowellDracutTewksburyBillericaBedfordLexingtonWalthamWatertownBelmontArlingtonWinchesterWoburnBurlingtonWilmingtonNorth ReadingReadingWakefieldStonehamMedfordSomervilleCambridgeEverettMaldenMelroseRevereChelseaWinthropWindhamDerrySandownHampsteadSalemAtkinsonPlaistowDanvilleKingstonNewtonSouth HamptonEast KingstonKensingtonHampton FallsHamptonSeabrook
Modern cities and towns in Essex County, Massachusetts.

Works written on the county include:

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Essex County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources

Vital Records

In Massachusetts, the original vital records (of births, marriages, marriage intentions, 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 (except the intentions) were submitted to the county court. These copies can be found in the list of Miscellaneous Court Records below. 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 and Atlases

Land transfers, commonly called deeds, are recorded on the county level in Massachusetts. Not all deeds were recorded as is common practice today. The earliest transactions were charters or grants from the English Crown. Once local government was established, the colony would grant land to settlers directly or to towns to dole out. Some towns first start out as proprietorship and records were recorded there. Once towns were established, deeds were recorded on the county level. Essex County is divided into two districts. The county was one district until the creation of the Northern District in 1869.

Northern Essex Registry of Deeds
354 Merrimack Street Suite #304 (Entry C)
Lawrence MA 01843
Phone 978-683-2745
Email Lawrence.Deeds@sec.state.ma.us
This district includes Andover, Lawrence, Methuen, and North Andover.

Original records

The records since 1986 (indexes and other records are earlier) can be viewed from their new (as of 23 July 2013) Search Page. Click on the specific search you want from the menu at the left.

Their older records are stored at the Southern District office. To view the originals, call ahead to determine where to go.

Southern Essex Registry of Deeds
45 Congress Street Suite 4100
Salem MA 01970
Phone 978-542-1700
This district covered the entire county until 1869.

Original records
  • Land deeds, 1639-present, online.
    The "classic" online search is still available covering indexes from 1964 and deeds from 1983 to present.
    Call the office ahead of time to see the older volumes. The county is currently in a restoration project to conserve the first 100 volumes. The first 20 volumes (1641-1709) have been conserved and viewable online. When you enter a volume and page, and click on the tif link, the image of the page is automatically downloaded to your device.
  • Land deed indexes, 1640-1799, 1800-1854, 1855-1950, 1951-1963, are online.
  • Plans, 1741-present, online.
  • Land court (registered land), 1899-present, online.
  • Essex County Atlases:
    Essex County, 1795 (mss.).
    Essex County, 1830 (mss.).
    Essex County, 1872.
    Essex County, 1884.
Original records on microfilm
  • Essex County Deed Indexes, Grantor/Grantee, 1639-1799, 1800-1819, 1820-1834, 1835-1839, 1840-1844, 1845-1854, and 1855-1879.
    Essex County Deeds, v. 1-695 (1639-1866).
    FHL film 862800 (1st of 365).
  • Essex County unregistered deeds, ca. 1700-ca. 1820.
    FHL film 878779.
  • Essex County miscellaneous probate records and deeds, 1779-1846.
    FHL film 893111 Item 6.
Published records
Published maps
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Probate Records

Probate and Family Court is organized on a county level in Massachusetts since the creation of the counties. The main records genealogists seek are testate (wills), intestate (administrations), guardianships, and divorces (since 1922), though there are many more that are valuable to any researcher, too. See a further discussion of the topic in general on the Massachusetts page.

Essex County Probate and Family Court
36 Federal Street
Salem MA 01970
Phone 978-744-1020 x383

Lawrence Satellite Office
2 Appleton Street
Lawrence MA 01840
Phone 978-686-9692
This office, starting sometime before 1990, serves Andover, Lawrence, Methuen, and North Andover. All records are maintained in Salem.

Original records

Older records (before 1882) 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
Note: By early 2014, another block of older records will be moved to the archives.

  • Old series, 1638-1881:
    Docket index:
    1638-1840, v. 1-16
    1841-1881, v. 17-37.
    Probate records:
    Original volumes renumbers, so add 300 to original number.
    Books 1 - 124 (1671-1867), 425 - 737 (1867-1916).
  • New series, 1816-1885:
    Probate records:
    Books 1 - 300 (1816-1885).
  • Second series, 1882-1917:
    Index, 1882-1917.
    Probate docket, v. 38 - 76, #58039-124204 (1882-1916).
    Note: These volumes index the continuous of the records listed above.

The records above are also microfilmed at FHL film 873023 (1st of 267) and at the Massachusetts Archives. The records are stored at the Supreme Judicial Archives at the same location. The original file papers exist at the archives, never microfilmed, but have been digitized in 2011 and 2012, though the Supreme Judicial Archives has yet to make that public (as of Aug. 2013).

  • Probate records, 1638-1691, FHL films 876180-876181.
    Note: It is not clear from the cataloging if this is an earlier filming of the earliest records or something else.
Published records
  • William P. Upham, Melinde Lutz Sanborn, trans., Essex County, Massachusetts, Probate Index, 1638-1840 (Boston, 1987), 2v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.45 P22e v. # or films 6105139-6105140.
    Digital version at Ancestry ($).
    Also, the surname's beginning with "P" in a database style derived from these indexes at Ancestry ($).
  • George Francis Dow, Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, [1635-1681] (Salem, Mass., 1916-1920), 3v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.45 P2p v. # or film 1033717 or FHL digital link.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive (v. 1, v. 2, and v. 3), Google Books (v. 1, v. 2, and v. 3), and Ancestry ($).
  • Melinde Lutz Sanborn, "Essex County, Massachusetts Probate Records, Supplement" ([Derry, N.H.], 1998), a database, online at Ancestry ($).
    Regarding the source records: If the volume is a Roman numeral the records were published in Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, volumes 1-9 (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1911-1975). If the volume number is an Arabic numeral the records can be found in the unpublished typescript copies done by the WPA, and in the custody of the Peabody Essex Museum at the James Duncan Phillips Library. Volume 53 is missing from that collection, and as a result there are no entries in this database from the September 1692 to March 1693 courts.
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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. Some records may be found in the Old Norfolk County records.

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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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:

The records published:

Digital versions of the Essex Quarterly Court
Vol. 1 1636-1656 Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 2 1656-1662 Internet Archive
Vol. 3 1662-1667 Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 4 1667-1671 Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 5 1672-1674 Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 6 1675-1678 Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 7 1678-1680 Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 8 1680-1683 Internet Archive
Vol. 9 1683-1686 n/a n/a

Derivative records published:

  • Melinde Lutz Sanborn, Ages from Court Records 1636 to 1700 (Baltimore, 2003), 227 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 P22s v. 1.
    Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Melinde Lutz Sanborn, "Essex County, Massachusetts Depositions, 1636-86" online at Ancestry ($).
  • Else L. Hambleton, Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts (New York, 2004), xix, 192 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
    A study of cases of fornication, bastardy, and paternity cases brought before the courts in Essex County between 1640 and 1692.
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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:

Derivative records published:

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.

  • Court records, v. 130-142 (1859-1865), FHL films 877458-877460.
  • Essex County Consolidated Index (Court of Common Pleas, 1749-1859; Superior Court, 1859-1904; Supreme Judicial Court, 1797-1904), at the Mass. Archives.

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 Essex County
Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online
No federal records as yet digitized at NARA
Essex County Naturalization Records
Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online
Lawrence Superior Court 1860-1892
1907-1982
see Judicial Archivist
Judicial Archives
pre-1925 volume index; card index, 1925-1982 Records, 1905-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR
Declarations, 1920-1945, FHL film 2168940 (1st of 11)
Petitions, 1920-1945, FHL film 2169561 (1st of 50)
Index, 1906-1982, at Mass. Arch. RR and FHL film 2168509 (1st of 7)
Salem/Lynn/Lawrence Index, 1906-1939, FHL film 2168940 Item 1
Salem Superior Court pre-1907
1907-1982
see Judicial Archivist
Judicial Archives
Card index Declarations, 1906-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR and FHL film 2169096 (1st of 23)
Petitions, 1907-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR and FHL film 2148922 (1st of 86)
Index, 1906-1982, at Mass. Arch. RR and FHL film 2168660 (1st of 6)
Salem/Lynn/Lawrence Index, 1906-1939, FHL film 2168940 Item 1
Amesbury
District Court
1906 Judicial Archives NO index NO microfilm
Gloucester
District Court
1885-1906
(with gaps)
Judicial Archives Indexed dockets Notice of app., 1885-1900, FHL film 1418524 Item 2
Lawrence
District Court
1850-1854, 1886-1906
(with gaps)
Judicial Archives Indexed dockets NO microfilm
Lynn
District Court
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index NO microfilm; index included in New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Newburyport
District Court
1885-1906
(with gaps)
Judicial Archives Indexed dockets NO microfilm
Salem
District Court
n/a Salem District Courthouse n/a NO microfilm
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Miscellaneous Court Records

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Essex County Massachusetts Societies and Libraries

Essex Society of Genealogists
PO Box 313
Lynnfield MA 01940-0313
This society is based at the Lynnfield Public Library where they house their collections.

Haverhill Public Library
99 Main Street
Haverhill MA 01830
Phone 978-373-1586
Local History Collection guide

Lynnfield Public Library
18 Summer Street
Lynnfield MA 01940
Phone 781-334-5411
Local History and Genealogy room

James Duncan Phillips Library
Peabody Essex Museum
132 Essex Street
Salem MA 01970
Phone 978-745-9500 x3053
This is the premier repository for Essex County research. The have large print and manuscript collections focused on pre-1860 material. This is the facility for government records on Essex County including the original court records, customhouse records, maritime records, and (on microfilm) probate records. The paper catalog is in process of conversion to their online catalog.

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Essex County Massachusetts Genealogy References