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Many of your ancestors may be found in court records. They may be listed as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors. They may have participated in cases involving probate, adoption, guardianship, divorce, debt, licenses, civil and criminal law suits, crimes, property disputes, appointment to public offices, or other matters brought before a court. Court records can establish family relationships and places of residence. They often provide occupations, descriptions of individuals, and other family history information.

Timeline

New Hampshire courts have kept records of genealogical value that include the following:

  • 1682-present: Justices of the peace have jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal matters in each town.
  • 1769–1824: Courts of general quarter sessions handled civil and criminal matters (1769–1794 and 1820–1824).
  • 1769–1859: Justices of the courts of common pleas had jurisdiction over civil matters (1769–1820 and 1824–1859).
  • 1769–present: Superior courts are county-wide courts with jurisdiction over divorce and alimony, marriages, equity matters, and some appeals (1769–1813, 1816–1855, and 1901–present).
  • 1874–1876: Circuit Courts held appellate jurisdiction during this period.
  • 1813–present: The Supreme Court is the statewide appellate court (1813–1816, 1855–1874, 1876–present).

Colonial Court Records

New Hampshire court records of the Provincial Period 1630s-1772 are at the New Hampshire State Archives. Most of those records have either been microfilmed or published, as explained below:

New Hampshire. Courts. Colonial Court Records, 1638–1772 Approx. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (On 207 FHL films beginning with 1001334.) These include civil court cases and miscellaneous material in over 30,000 files and indexes found at the Division of Records and Management Archives in Concord, New Hampshire.  On several films there is an index to individuals' first and last names, with file numbers. The court records are arranged by file number.

New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, 40 vols. Concord, New Hampshire: State Printer, 1867–1943. (Family History Library book 974.2 N2nhp; On 21 films beginning with 1033734; some volumes on fiche 6046775 and 6046728.) The volumes that deal with court records are volumes 1–7, films 1033734–37; volume 10, film 1033737, item 2; volume 19, film 1033738; volumes 20–22, films 1033739–40, and volume 40, film 1033745 item 2, (vol. 40 has the county court records 1640-1692 with a first and last name index). Names are often spelled in various ways. Each volume is indexed. The volumes and an every-name index are available at the New Hampshire State Archives Internet site. There is also an online index to the entire forty volume set at rootsweb.ancestry.com. You can also go to the online site at www.archive.org where you can see the volumes. For more information on the New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, see:

Wallace, R. Stout. "The State Papers, A Descriptive Guide."  Concord, New Hampshire: Historical Society of New Hampshire, 1976. Historical New Hampshire 31 (Fall 1976): 119–28. (Family History Library book 974.2 H25h.)

Towle, Laird C. New Hampshire Genealogical Research Guide. Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage Books, 1983. (FHL book 974.2 D27t.) This has a detailed list of what each volume of the state papers contains.

See United States Court Records for more detailed information on court records. Refer to New Hampshire Probate Records and New Hampshire Naturalization and Citizenship for information about those specific court records.

Court records are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

NEW HAMPSHIRE- COURT RECORDS

NEW HAMPSHIRE,[COUNTY]- COURT RECORDS

NEW HAMPSHIRE,[COUNTY],[TOWN]- COURT RECORDS


 

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