Suffolk County, Massachusetts

From FamilySearch Wiki

(Difference between revisions)
(Updated probate holdings)
m (Text replace - "usgwarchives.org" to "usgwarchives.net")
(10 intermediate revisions by 3 users not shown)
Line 3: Line 3:
 
== Brief History  ==
 
== Brief History  ==
  
Suffolk County was one of the four original counties when Massachusetts Bay Colony created counties in 1643 and had an undefined western border. It established and claimed as far west as Woodstock, Connecticut. Initially, the county included Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham, and Nantasket [now Hull]. In 1671, Mendon was added from Middlesex. For a brief time, the county was part of the Dominion of New England from 1686 to 1689. The county eventually became part of the Royal colony of Massachusetts Bay. All towns to the south were lost to the creation of Norfolk County in 1793, leaving only Boston and Chelsea. Hingham and Hull protested their removal and thus remained in Suffolk County until they were transferred to Plymouth County in 1803. Boston was incorporated as a city in 1822. The city started annexing towns back: Roxbury (1868), Dorchester (1870), Brighton (1874), Charlestown (1874), West Roxbury (1874), and Hyde Park (1912). The county government was abolished in 1999, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.  
+
Suffolk County was one of the four original counties when [[Massachusetts Bay Colony|Massachusetts Bay Colony]] created counties in 1643 and had an undefined western border. It established and claimed as far west as [[Woodstock, Connecticut|Woodstock, Connecticut]]. Initially, the county included [[Boston, Massachusetts|Boston]], [[Roxbury, Massachusetts|Roxbury]], [[Dorchester, Massachusetts|Dorchester]], [[Dedham, Massachusetts|Dedham]], [[Braintree, Massachusetts|Braintree]], [[Weymouth, Massachusetts|Weymouth]], [[Hingham, Massachusetts|Hingham]], and Nantasket [now [[Hull, Massachusetts|Hull]]]. In 1671, [[Mendon, Massachusetts|Mendon]] was added from [[Middlesex County, Massachusetts|Middlesex County]]. For a brief time, the county was part of the [[Dominion of New England|Dominion of New England]] from 1686 to 1689. The county eventually became part of the Royal colony of Massachusetts Bay. All towns to the south were lost to the creation of Norfolk County in 1793, leaving only [[Boston, Massachusetts|Boston]] and [[Chelsea, Massachusetts|Chelsea]]. [[Hingham, Massachusetts|Hingham]] and [[Hull, Massachusetts|Hull]] protested their removal and thus remained in Suffolk County until they were transferred to [[Plymouth County, Massachusetts|Plymouth County]] in 1803. [[Boston, Massachusetts|Boston]] was incorporated as a city in 1822. The city started annexing towns back: [[Roxbury, Massachusetts|Roxbury]] (1868), [[Dorchester, Massachusetts|Dorchester]] (1870), [[Brighton, Massachusetts|Brighton]] (1874), [[Charlestown, Massachusetts|Charlestown]] (1874), [[West Roxbury, Massachusetts|West Roxbury]] (1874), and [[Hyde Park, Massachusetts|Hyde Park]] (1912). The county government was abolished in 1999, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.  
  
 
== Historical Data  ==
 
== Historical Data  ==
Line 9: Line 9:
 
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.  
 
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.  
  
{| cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" border="1"
+
{| border="1" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1"
 
|-
 
|-
 
! width="100" scope="col" | Dates  
 
! width="100" scope="col" | Dates  
Line 128: Line 128:
 
| Boston annexed the town of '''[[Hyde Park, Massachusetts|Hyde Park]]''', Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1911, ch. 469, sec. 1, p. 450, and ch. 583, sec. 1, p. 600]
 
| Boston annexed the town of '''[[Hyde Park, Massachusetts|Hyde Park]]''', Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1911, ch. 469, sec. 1, p. 450, and ch. 583, sec. 1, p. 600]
 
|}
 
|}
<div style="width:147%"><center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>  
+
<div style="width: 147%"><center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>  
 
== Towns and Cities  ==
 
== Towns and Cities  ==
  
 
[[Image:Ma-suffolk.png|right|370px|Ma-suffolk.png]] The following list of present-day Suffolk 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. A master list of these names will be included in the Massachusetts state page.  
 
[[Image:Ma-suffolk.png|right|370px|Ma-suffolk.png]] The following list of present-day Suffolk 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. A master list of these names will be included in the Massachusetts state page.  
<center>[[Boston, Massachusetts|Boston (1630)]] - [[Chelsea, Massachusetts|Chelsea (1739)]] - [[Revere, Massachusetts|Revere (1846)]] - [[Winthrop, Massachusetts|Winthrop (1852)]]</center> Boston needed to grow its tax base, so over the years, various towns were annexed to Boston. These towns had a vibrant history and their own set of records before they became part of Boston and thus Suffolk County. These towns are:<br><center>[[Roxbury, Massachusetts|Roxbury (1630-1868)]]<br> [[Dorchester, Massachusetts|Dorchester (1630-1870)]]<br> [[Brighton, Massachusetts|Brighton (1807-1874)]]<br> [[Charlestown, Massachusetts|Charlestown (1630-1874)]]<br> [[West Roxbury, Massachusetts|West Roxbury (1851-1874)]]<br> [[Hyde Park, Massachusetts|Hyde Park (1868-1912)]]</center> <center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>  
+
<center>[[Boston, Massachusetts|Boston (1630)]] - [[Chelsea, Massachusetts|Chelsea (1739)]] - [[Revere, Massachusetts|Revere (1846)]] - [[Winthrop, Massachusetts|Winthrop (1852)]]</center>Boston needed to grow its tax base, so over the years, various towns were annexed to Boston. These towns had a vibrant history and their own set of records before they became part of Boston and thus Suffolk County. These towns are:<br><center>[[Roxbury, Massachusetts|Roxbury (1630-1868)]]<br>[[Dorchester, Massachusetts|Dorchester (1630-1870)]]<br>[[Brighton, Massachusetts|Brighton (1807-1874)]]<br>[[Charlestown, Massachusetts|Charlestown (1630-1874)]]<br>[[West Roxbury, Massachusetts|West Roxbury (1851-1874)]]<br>[[Hyde Park, Massachusetts|Hyde Park (1868-1912)]]</center><center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>  
 
== County Histories  ==
 
== County Histories  ==
  
[[Image:{{MASufCoTowns}}]] Works written on the county include:  
+
Works written on the county include: {{MASufCoTowns}}
  
 
*B. B. Edwards, "Complete List of the Congregational and Presbyterian Ministers in Suffolk Co." in ''American Quarterly Register'', 7 [1834]: 28-30.<br>Digital version at [http://books.google.com/books?id=UAFKAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA28 Google books].<br>  
 
*B. B. Edwards, "Complete List of the Congregational and Presbyterian Ministers in Suffolk Co." in ''American Quarterly Register'', 7 [1834]: 28-30.<br>Digital version at [http://books.google.com/books?id=UAFKAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA28 Google books].<br>  
Line 148: Line 148:
 
*[http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ma/county/suffolk/ The Suffolk County MA GenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].  
 
*[http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ma/county/suffolk/ The Suffolk County MA GenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].  
 
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Suffolk The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Suffolk County  
 
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Suffolk The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Suffolk County  
*[http://usgwarchives.org/ma/mafiles.htm#Suffolk The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Suffolk County (backup site)  
+
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Suffolk The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Suffolk County (backup site)  
 
*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffolk_County,_Massachusetts Suffolk County Wikipedia page].<br>
 
*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffolk_County,_Massachusetts Suffolk County Wikipedia page].<br>
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
 +
== 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 Vital Records|Massachusetts Vital Records]] page.
 
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>  
 
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>  
 
== Land Records and Atlases  ==
 
== Land Records and Atlases  ==
Line 192: Line 201:
 
:#- 1683-1686 - [No Internet Archive version found] and [http://books.google.com/books?id=Q_NMW2IEDfkC Google books].<br>  
 
:#- 1683-1686 - [No Internet Archive version found] and [http://books.google.com/books?id=Q_NMW2IEDfkC Google books].<br>  
 
:#- 1686-1688, 1697 - [http://archive.org/details/suffolkdeeds00aldegoog Internet Archive] and[http://books.google.com/books?id=GIYFAAAAMAAJ Google books].
 
:#- 1686-1688, 1697 - [http://archive.org/details/suffolkdeeds00aldegoog Internet Archive] and[http://books.google.com/books?id=GIYFAAAAMAAJ Google books].
 
+
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 
== Probate Records  ==
 
== Probate Records  ==
  
Line 210: Line 219:
 
<center>'''Microfilm records''' </center>  
 
<center>'''Microfilm records''' </center>  
 
*Probate records, 1636-1899, with published index (1636-1893, 1894-1909), miscellaneous docket (1636-1923) [''lists estates not appearing in files, etc.''], docket books nos. 1-118206 (1636-1901), record books v. 1-769 (1628-1899), New Series record books v. 1-42 (1636-1766).<br>{{FHL|120561|item|disp=FHL films 581922 (first of 439)}}.<br>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives] and [http://www.americanancestors.org/home.html NEHGS] (Boston) have these microfilms.<br>  
 
*Probate records, 1636-1899, with published index (1636-1893, 1894-1909), miscellaneous docket (1636-1923) [''lists estates not appearing in files, etc.''], docket books nos. 1-118206 (1636-1901), record books v. 1-769 (1628-1899), New Series record books v. 1-42 (1636-1766).<br>{{FHL|120561|item|disp=FHL films 581922 (first of 439)}}.<br>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives] and [http://www.americanancestors.org/home.html NEHGS] (Boston) have these microfilms.<br>  
*Probate records, 1901-1916, docket books v.95-144, no. 118207-172206 (1901-1916) and record books v. 770-1102 (1900-1916).<br>{{FHL|608395|item|disp=FHL films 1492663 (first of 39)}}.<br>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives] and [http://www.americanancestors.org/home.html NEHGS] (Boston) have these microfilms.<br>
+
*Probate records, 1901-1916, docket books v.95-144, no. 118207-172206 (1901-1916) and record books v. 770-1102 (1900-1916).<br>{{FHL|608395|item|disp=FHL films 1492663 (first of 39)}}.<br>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives] and [http://www.americanancestors.org/home.html NEHGS] (Boston) have these microfilms.<br>
 +
*Probate records, 1760-1870, from the Supreme Judicial Court.<br>{{FHL|302237|item|disp=FHL film 902796}}.<br>
 
<center>'''Published records''' </center>  
 
<center>'''Published records''' </center>  
 
*Winifred Lovering Holman and Mary Lovering Holman, "Suffolk County Probate (1686-1692)" in ''The American Genealogist'', 12 [1935-36]: [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134740756 175-184], [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134740966 222-234]; 13 [1936-37]: [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134754254 98-106]; 14 [1937-38]: [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134740470 34-45].<br>This was the probate records during the unpopular Andros Administration that combined several colonies into one seated at Boston. This article starts with a Miscellaneous Index of estates that do not appear in the probate file papers. The bulk is the regular docket entries.<br>Digital version at American Ancestors ($) linked to the pages above.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/2444644 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|161997|item|disp=FHL book 973 D25aga v. #}}.<br>  
 
*Winifred Lovering Holman and Mary Lovering Holman, "Suffolk County Probate (1686-1692)" in ''The American Genealogist'', 12 [1935-36]: [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134740756 175-184], [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134740966 222-234]; 13 [1936-37]: [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134754254 98-106]; 14 [1937-38]: [http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=134740470 34-45].<br>This was the probate records during the unpopular Andros Administration that combined several colonies into one seated at Boston. This article starts with a Miscellaneous Index of estates that do not appear in the probate file papers. The bulk is the regular docket entries.<br>Digital version at American Ancestors ($) linked to the pages above.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/2444644 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|161997|item|disp=FHL book 973 D25aga v. #}}.<br>  
*''Suffolk County Wills: Abstracts of the earliest wills upon record in the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts: from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register'' (Baltimore, 1984), 432 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/14904117 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|298484|item|disp=FHL book 974.46 P2s or film 1320548 Item 1}}.<br>  
+
*''Suffolk County Wills: Abstracts of the earliest wills upon record in the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts: from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register'' (Baltimore, 1984), 432 pp.<br>Digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48226 Ancestry] ($).<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/14904117 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|298484|item|disp=FHL book 974.46 P2s or film 1320548 Item 1}}.<br>  
 
*Melinde Lutz Sanborn, ''Miscellaneous Docket Index, Suffolk County, Mass. Probate Records, 1639-1866'' (Derry, N.H., 1997 or Rockport, Me., 1997), 31 pp.<br>This booklet indexes several hundred early Suffolk County probate records where the original file papers were lost prior to the Civil War and only the entries in the copybook remain today. The booklet includes the individual's name, date of the earliest entry, type of entry, and volume and page reference in the copybook series.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/39221780 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|723152|item|disp=FHL book 974.46 P2sm}}.<br>
 
*Melinde Lutz Sanborn, ''Miscellaneous Docket Index, Suffolk County, Mass. Probate Records, 1639-1866'' (Derry, N.H., 1997 or Rockport, Me., 1997), 31 pp.<br>This booklet indexes several hundred early Suffolk County probate records where the original file papers were lost prior to the Civil War and only the entries in the copybook remain today. The booklet includes the individual's name, date of the earliest entry, type of entry, and volume and page reference in the copybook series.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/39221780 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|723152|item|disp=FHL book 974.46 P2sm}}.<br>
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
== Other Court Records  ==
  
<br> <br>  
+
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 Court Records|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]
 
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>  
 
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>  
<br> NOTE: This page is being uploaded in sections as it is ready.
+
=== Suffolk Files  ===
  
<br>
+
The Suffolk Files contain the earliest file papers of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and its predecessors, the Court of Assistants and the Superior Court of Judicature (1620-1800). There are also some records of the county courts and the Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace. The records contain cases not just from Suffolk County, but from Massachusetts and parts of Maine and New Hampshire. This was the result of the circuit nature of several of the courts and the fact that most of the action brought before the upper courts had been appealed from lower courts throughout the region. Extensive indices of every person, place, and subject, as well as date and calendar indices were prepared. Microfilm of the Suffolk Files and indices is available in the Massachusetts Archives Reading Room.
 +
<center>'''Original records''' </center>
 +
*[Contact Court Archivist]
 +
<center>'''Microfilmed records''' </center>
 +
This is an inventory of the microfilms held by the Judicial Archives and available at the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives Reading Room].<br>
 +
 
 +
*Suffolk Files, {{FHL|240378|item|disp=FHL film 909870 (first of 1639 reels)}}.
 +
*Index to calendar index, 1629-1700.
 +
*Calendar index, #1-4878, 1643-1700; undated 24362-28991, 98505-98885, 129996-130016, 162001-162525, 1629-1700.
 +
*Index to Suffolk Files, A-Z, 1629-1729.
 +
*Index to Suffolk Files, A-Z, 1730-1799.
 +
*Misc. index to Court Files, A-Z, 1629-1795.
 +
*County index, #100001-108682, 129726-130072, 1687-1799.
 +
*County index, #13700-141578, York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Hancock, Washington counties, 1734-1797.
 +
*County index, Essex, Norfolk, Middlesex counties, 1731-1797.
 +
*County index, Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Dukes, Hampshire, Plymouth counties, 1733-1797.
 +
*County index, #15200-156870, Worcester, 1736-1797.
 +
*Date index, 1618-1693.
 +
*Index to fragments, #1-1590, 1629-1700, undated.
 +
*Suffolk Files, #1-175581, v. 1-1287 (738 reels).
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
=== County Courts  ===
 +
 
 +
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. These records are included in the Suffolk Files mentioned above.
 +
<center>'''Microfilmed records''' </center>
 +
*See Suffolk Files listed above.
 +
*Court records, 1680-1692, {{FHL|99759|item|disp=FHL film 947731}}.
 +
<center>'''Published records''' </center>
 +
*Edward Holden, "Births, marriages and deaths from the files of Suffolk Co. 1640-1662" in ''The New England Historical and Genealogical Register'', 20 [1866]: 144.<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/stream/newenglandhisto20unkngoog#page/n158/mode/2up Internet Archive] and [http://books.google.com/books?id=L_SdyU5IItcC&pg=PA144 Google Books].<br>
 +
*''Catalogue of Records and Files in the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk'' (Boston, 1890), 169 pp. [Revised in 1896, (Boston, 1897), 6, 171-181 pp.].<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/details/catalogueofrecor00mass Internet Archive] (1890), [http://books.google.com/books?id=bMsTAAAAYAAJ Google Books] (1890), and [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=17953 Ancestry] (1897) ($).<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=Catalogue+of+Records+and+Files+in+the+office+of+the+Clerk+of+the+Supreme+Judicial+Court+for+the+County+of+Suffolk&qt=results_page WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|228647|item|disp=FHL book 974.46 A3c or film 908077 Item 2}} (1890) or {{FHL|820308|item|disp=FHL fiche 6078747}} (fiche version of 1890).<br>
 +
*John Noble, "The Early Court Files of the County of Suffolk" in ''Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts'', 3 [1895-1897]: 317-326.<br>Digital version at [http://books.google.com/books?id=JP0KAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA317 Google Books].<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1564125 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|1264767|item|disp=FHL book 974.4 B4cs v. 3}}.<br>
 +
*Samuel Eliot Morison, ed., ''Records of the Suffolk County Court, 1671-1680'' (Boston, 1933), part of the ''Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts'', v. 29-30.<br>The manuscript book of records of the quarterly court of Suffolk County held by the Boston Athenaeum. No digital version available.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1564125 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|133040|item|disp=FHL book 974.4 B4cs v. 29-30 or film 844532 Items 1-2}}.<br>
 +
*Catherine Menand, ''A Guide to the Records of the Suffolk County Inferior Court of Common Pleas, in the custody of the Social Law Library, Boston, Massachusetts'' (Boston, 1981), 63 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/15562627 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; Not at FHL but at [http://www.americanancestors.org/home.html NEHGS] (Boston).<br>
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
=== 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. A county copy of marriages were recorded here from 1726 to 1737.
 +
<center>'''Original records''' </center>
 +
*[Contact Court Archivist]
 +
<center>'''Microfilmed records''' </center>
 +
*Record books, 1702-1855 (141 reels) at the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives].
 +
*Court records, 1702-1731, minutes, 1735-1780, {{FHL|244319|item|disp=FHL films 946896-946898, and 902789 Item 1}}.
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
=== 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. A county copy of births, marriages, and deaths were recorded here from 1724 to 1788 for the towns of Abington, Bridgewater, Duxbury, Halifax, Hanson, Kingston, Marshfield, Middleborough, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Scituate, and Wareham. Note: Volume 19 of original records contains marriages from 1771 to 1795.
 +
<center>'''Original records''' </center>
 +
*[Contact Court Archivist]
 +
<center>'''Microfilmed records''' </center>
 +
*Docket books, 1719-1824 (fiche) at the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives].
 +
*Court records, 1692-1855, and indexes, 1840-1862 [''sic''], {{FHL|294354|item|disp=FHL films 909525 (first of 143 reels)}}.
 +
<center>'''Published''' </center>
 +
*''Abstract and index of the records of the Inferiour Court of Pleas (Suffolk County Court) held in Boston, 1680-1698'' (Boston, 1940), iii, 224pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1852262 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|228255|item|disp=FHL book 974.46 P2h}}.
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
=== Superior Court  ===
 +
 
 +
This court was created in 1859 and combines the authority of the two courts listed above. The Superior Court has original jurisdiction in civil actions over $25,000, and in matters where equitable relief is sought. It also has original jurisdiction in actions involving labor disputes where injunctive relief is sought, and has exclusive authority to convene medical malpractice tribunals.
 +
 
 +
The Court has exclusive original jurisdiction in first degree murder cases and original jurisdiction for all other crimes. It has jurisdiction over all felony matters, although it shares jurisdiction over crimes where other Trial Court Departments have concurrent jurisdiction. Finally, the Superior Court has appellate jurisdiction over certain administrative proceedings.
 +
 
 +
Superior Court Administrative Office<br>Suffolk County Courthouse, 13th Floor<br>Three Pemberton Square<br>Boston MA 02108<br>Phone 617-788-8130<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)<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]
 +
<center>'''Original records''' </center>
 +
*[Contact Court Archivist]
 +
<center>'''Microfilmed records''' </center>
 +
*Divorce records, 1888-1915, divorce dockets, 1888-1916 and index to libellants, 1903-1910.<br>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives]; {{FHL|671540|item|disp=FHL films 1530665 (first of 10 reels)}}.
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
=== Supreme Judicial Court  ===
 +
 
 +
This is the highest court in the state and taking cases by appeal, writ of error, capital offenses, and "every Crime whatsoever that is against the public good."
 +
 
 +
[http://www.sjccountyclerk.com '''Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk''']<br>John Adams Court House, 1st Floor<br>One Pemberton Square - Suite 1300<br>Boston MA 02108<br>Phone 617-557-1050<br>Email [mailto:sjccountyclerk@sjc.state.ma.us sjccountyclerk@sjc.state.ma.us]<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)<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]
 +
<center>'''Microfilmed records''' </center>
 +
*Greenough Collection of old court records, 1647-1828.<br>At the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives]; {{FHL|307977|item|disp=FHL film 902795}}.
 +
*Court records, 1686-1799 [was called the Superior Court of Judicature and includes the records from the Dominion of New England], Maritime Court records, 1779-1788, and Court minutes, 1702-1797.<br>{{FHL|301381|item|disp=FHL films 945842 (first of 62 reels)}}.
 +
*Partitions and executions, v. 1-12, 1694-1856.<br>{{FHL|295994|item|disp=FHL films 947291-947295}}.
 +
*Court docket and minute books, 1702-1797 [for all counties] (9 reels).<br>At the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives].
 +
*Probate records, 1760-1870.<br>{{FHL|302237|item|disp=FHL film 902796}}.
 +
*Court dockets and index, 1-16, 1790-1870.<br>{{FHL|244312|item|disp=FHL films 947281 (first of 37)}}.
 +
*Court records, 1800-1804.<br>{{FHL|76167|item|disp=FHL film 946895}}.
 +
*Index to dockets, equity and probate, 1862-1870.<br>{{FHL|99771|item|disp=FHL film 947289}}.
 +
<center>'''Published''' </center>
 +
*Catalogue of records and files in the office of the clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk (''S.l.'', 1890), 303pp. + [21] leaves.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=Catalogue+of+records+and+files+in+the+office+of+the+clerk+of+the+Supreme+Judicial+Court+for+the+county+of+Suffolk World Cat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|228647|item|disp=FHL book 974.46 A3c}} or {{FHL|820308|item|disp=FHL fiche 6078747}}.
 +
*Melinde Lutz Sanborn, ''Ages from Court Records 1636 to 1700'' (Baltimore, 2003).<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/52271854 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|1121823|item|disp=FHL book 974.4 P22s}}.
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
=== Miscellaneous Court Records  ===
 +
 
 +
'''Miscellaneous Records'''
 +
 
 +
*Miscellaneous papers (arranged chronologically), v. 1-4, 1679-1808, from the county courthouse, these records include deeds, wills recongizances, accounts, writs, summons, and miscellaneous papers.<br>{{FHL|307912|item|disp=FHL films 902791-902794}}.
 +
*Sacco &amp; Vanzetti, committee files, 1927-1939 (2 reels).<br>At the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives].
 +
 
 +
'''County Sheriff'''
 +
 
 +
*Criminal calendar, v. 1-80, 1799-1930.<br>At the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives].
 +
*Debtors calendar, v. 1-11, 1799-1930.<br>At the [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/ Massachusetts Archives].
 +
 
 +
'''Court of Admiralty'''
 +
 
 +
*Court records and account books, 1718-1772.<br>{{FHL|307912|item|disp=FHL film 902790}}.
 +
 
 +
'''Divorce Records'''<br>Jurisdiction over divorce matters changes over time. The Governor and Council heard cases before 1785, then it was the Supreme Judicial Court until 1887, followed by the Superior Court until 1922, and presently this is a matter for the Probate and Family Court (with minor exceptions in all periods). See the various court records above.
 +
 
 +
'''Naturalization Records'''<br>Naturalization records were created on a variety of governmental levels from the Federal down to the city at the same time. The county records are outlines below.
 +
 
 +
*Partitions and executions, 1782-1910.<br>Includes records from the Court of Common Pleas and Superior Court and declarations of intention from the Supreme Judicial Court, 1803-1832.<br>{{FHL|670403|item|disp=FHL films 0530934-1530935}}.
 +
*Primary and final declarations of intention and naturalizations, 1864- 1888 and card index 1856-1884, from the Superior Court.<br>{{FHL|482228|item|disp=FHL films 1530549-1530550 (index), 1530639, 1530664-1530665}}.
 +
*Naturalization applications and papers, 1885-1906.<br>{{FHL|572878|item|disp=FHL films 1530509-1530510}}.
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
== Maps  ==
 +
 
 +
This list includes maps of particular interest to genealogists, and is not an effort to trace the vast cartographic history of the county in full.
 +
 
 +
*Griffith Morgan Hopkins, ''Atlas of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts'' (Philadelphia, 1873-1875), 7v.<br>v. 1 - Boston proper; v. 2 - Roxbury (Boston Wards 12-15); v. 3 - South Boston and Dorchester; v. 4 - East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop; v. 5 - West Roxbury (Boston Ward 17); v. 6 - Charlestown (Boston Wards 20-22); v. 7 - Brighton (Boston Ward 19).<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/22626058 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|228563|item|disp=FHL X Large Folio 974.46 E7h v. #}}.<br>
 +
 
 +
*John H. Long, ed., Atlas of Historical County Boundaries: Connecticut-Maine-Massachusetts-Rhode Island (New York, 1994).<br>Digital version online from the Newberry Library (Chicago) for [http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/statepages/Massachusetts.html download] or [http://historical-county.newberry.org/website/Massachusetts/viewer.htm viewing online].<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/29668083 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|471657|item|disp=FHL book 974 E3c}}.
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
== Societies  ==
 +
 
 +
[http://www.masshist.org/ Massachusetts Historical Society]<br>1154 Boylston Street<br>Boston MA 02215<br>Phone 617-536-1608<br>Email via [http://www.masshist.org/about/contact.php website]<br>This is the oldest historical society in the country founded in 1791. It is a private library with no fee for access. They are '''not''' a genealogical library, though they hold historical material useful for genealogical research. Their strength is their vast manuscript holdings and pre-1820 print collection. They are the home for the [http://www.masshist.org/adams_editorial/ Adams Family Papers]. The library has free wifi access and their catalog is [http://www.masshist.org/library/abigail.cfm online].
 +
 
 +
[http://www.americanancestors.org/home.html New England Historic Genealogical Society]<br>99-101 Newbury Street<br>Boston MA 02116<br>Phone 617-536-5740<br>Email from directory on [http://www.americanancestors.org/contact/ website]<br>This is the oldest genealogical society in the United States founded in 1845 by members of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Its strengths are colonial period, New England, northeast United States, Eastern Canada, and United Kingdom. They have an extensive manuscript collection and a large genealogical database online that includes the Massachusetts Vital Records from 1841 to 1920. It is a private membership organization which grants the user access to their library holdings and online databases. There is free wifi in the library and their catalog is [http://library.nehgs.org/ online].<br><br>
 +
<center>[[Suffolk County, Massachusetts#top|Top of Page]]</center>
 +
<br>  
  
 
== References  ==
 
== References  ==

Revision as of 06:29, 30 January 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Suffolk County

Contents

Brief History

Suffolk County was one of the four original counties when Massachusetts Bay Colony created counties in 1643 and had an undefined western border. It established and claimed as far west as Woodstock, Connecticut. Initially, the county included Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham, and Nantasket [now Hull]. In 1671, Mendon was added from Middlesex County. For a brief time, the county was part of the Dominion of New England from 1686 to 1689. The county eventually became part of the Royal colony of Massachusetts Bay. All towns to the south were lost to the creation of Norfolk County in 1793, leaving only Boston and Chelsea. Hingham and Hull protested their removal and thus remained in Suffolk County until they were transferred to Plymouth County in 1803. Boston was incorporated as a city in 1822. The city started annexing towns back: Roxbury (1868), Dorchester (1870), Brighton (1874), Charlestown (1874), West Roxbury (1874), and Hyde Park (1912). The county government was abolished in 1999, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.

Historical Data

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

Dates Events
10 May 1643 Suffolk County created as one of the four original counties formed out of Massachusetts Bay Colony. [Mass. Rec., 2: 38]
8 July 1663 Lost the section now called the northeast corner of Rhode Island when King Charles II granted that colony a charter that defined its borders. [Bowen's Disputes, 33; Swindler, 8: 368]
-- May 1664 Lost to New Plymouth Colony when provincial line is demarcated to what is now referred to as the "Old County Line." [Bradford, 427n]
27 Feb. 1664/5 Gained from Rhode Island Colony as royal commissioners set that colony's borders as the Blackstone River and the east side of Narragansett Bay. [Arnold, 1: 315]
15 Mar. 1689/90 Gained on county's undefined western border when Massachusetts created the town of Woodstock (now wholly within the state of Connecticut). [Bowen's Disputes, 53-58; Bowen's Woodstock, 1: 31]
7 Oct. 1691 Massachusetts Bay Colony given new provincial charter by King William III and Queen Mary II, but does not affect the borders. [Mass. Col. Acts, 1: ch. 27 (1692-1693), sec. 1, p. 63; Swindler, 5: 80]
18 Mar. 1711/2 The "Old Colony Line" declared the border between Suffolk, Bristol and Plymouth counties with no change in boundaries. [Mass. Col. Acts, 21: ch. 152 (1711), p. 799]
10 July 1731 Part of the western section set off with the western half of Middlesex County to form Worcester County. [Mass. Col. Acts, 2: ch. 8 (1730-1731), sec. 1, p. 584]
17 Feb. 1746/7 Southwestern tip annexed to Providence Plantations by royal settlement in 1746. [Arnold, 2: 157; R.I. Rec., 5: 207-209]
20 Nov. 1770 Small area changed to Plymouth County when Bridgewater gained from Stoughton. [Mass. Col. Acts, 5: ch. 15 (1770-1771), sec. 1, p. 116]
3 Mar. 1792 When Medway and Sherburne redefined their border, that also redefined the line between Suffolk and Middlesex County. [Mass. Acts 1792, ch. 23, sec. 1, p. 155]
20 June 1793 Southwestern three-quarters and town of Cohasset set off as new county of Norfolk. [Mass. Acts 1793, ch. 43, sec. 1, p. 272 and ch. 9, sec. 1, p. 314]
18 June 1803 Towns of Hingham and Hull annexed to Plymouth County. [Mass. Acts 1803, ch. 14, sec. 1, p. 246]
6 Mar. 1804 The northern part of Dorchester, Norfolk County, called "Dorchester Neck" annexed and now called the neighborhood of "South Boston."
22 Feb. 1825 Minute change between Boston and Brookline adjusts border between Suffolk and Norfolk counties. [Mass. Acts 1825, ch. 90, p. 73]
25 Mar. 1834 Boston annexed Thompson Island from Dorchester, Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1834, ch. 102, p. 129]
16 Mar. 1836 Border between Boston and Roxbury, Norfolk County, established. [Mass. Acts 1836, ch. 37, p. 681]
19 Apr. 1837 Water border between Boston and Roxbury, Norfolk County, established. [Mass. Acts 1837, ch. 202, sec. 1, p. 222]
22 Feb. 1841 Chelsea lost northern long but narrow strip of land to Saugus, Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1841, ch. 30, sec. 1, p. 350]
3 May 1850 Water border between Boston and Roxbury, Norfolk County, established. [Mass. Acts 1850, ch. 281, sec. 1, p. 460]
21 May 1855 Boston gained from Dorchester, Norfolk County, a very small piece of land. [Mass. Acts 1855, ch. 468, sec. 1, p. 907]
3 Apr. 1860 Border changed slightly when line changed from the center of the street between Boston and Roxbury to the side of the street. [Mass. 1860, ch. 172, sec. 1, p. 138]
6 Jan. 1868 Border changed when Boston annexed the town of Roxbury from Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1867, ch. 359, sec. 1, p. 754]
3 Jan. 1870 Border changed when Boston annexed the town of Dorchester from Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1869, ch. 349, sec. 1, p. 646]
2 Apr. 1870 Border changed slightly when line changed from the center of the street between Boston and West Roxbury to the side of the street. [Mass. 1870, ch. 146, sec. 1, p. 21, 95]
18 June 1870 Boston gained a small piece of land from Brookline, Norfolk County. [Mass. 1870, ch. 374, sec. 1, p. 290]
12 Apr. 1872 Boston gained Mt. Hope Cemetery from West Roxbury, Norfolk County. [Mass. 1872, ch. 197, sec. 1, p. 143]
5 Jan. 1874 Boston annexed towns of Brighton and Charlestown from Middlesex County.
Boston annexed town of West Roxbury from Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1873, ch. 286, sec. 1, p. 716; ch. 303, sec. 1, p. 747; ch. 314, sec. 1, p. 810]
8 May 1874 Border changed slightly when a small piece of land gained from Brookline, Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1874, ch. 220, sec. 1, p. 143]
29 May 1874 Border changed slightly when line between Boston and Newton, Middlesex County was adjusted. [Mass. Acts 1874, ch. 277, sec. 1, p. 189]
1 July 1875 Border changed slightly when a small piece of land was lost to Newton, Middlesex County. [Mass. Acts 1875, ch. 184, sec. 1, p. 773]
27 May 1890 Border changed slightly when the line between Boston and Brookline, Norfolk County, was adjusted. [Mass. Acts 1890, ch. 339, sec. 1, p. 299]
4 May 1891 Border changed slightly when the line between Boston and Somerville, Middlesex County, was adjusted. [Mass. Acts 1891, ch. 294, sec. 1, p. 856]
13 Apr. 1894 Border changed slightly when the line between Boston and Brookline, Norfolk County, was adjusted. [Mass. Acts 1894, ch. 242, sec. 1, p. 219]
29 Mar. 1898 Border changed slightly when the line between Boston and Cambridge and Newton, Middlesex County, was adjusted along the Charles River. [Mass. Acts 1898, ch. 251, sec. 1, p. 185]
13 May 1898 Border changed slightly when the line between Boston and Newton, Norfolk County, was adjusted. [Mass. Acts 1898, ch. 431, sec. 1, p. 376]
29 Mar. 1910 Border changed slightly when the line between Boston and Cambridge, Middlesex County, was adjusted along the Charles River. [Mass. Acts 1910, ch. 312, sec. 1, p. 239]
1 Jan. 1912 Boston annexed the town of Hyde Park, Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts 1911, ch. 469, sec. 1, p. 450, and ch. 583, sec. 1, p. 600]
Top of Page

Towns and Cities

Ma-suffolk.png
The following list of present-day Suffolk 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. A master list of these names will be included in the Massachusetts state page.
Boston (1630) - Chelsea (1739) - Revere (1846) - Winthrop (1852)
Boston needed to grow its tax base, so over the years, various towns were annexed to Boston. These towns had a vibrant history and their own set of records before they became part of Boston and thus Suffolk County. These towns are:
Roxbury (1630-1868)
Dorchester (1630-1870)
Brighton (1807-1874)
Charlestown (1630-1874)
West Roxbury (1851-1874)
Hyde Park (1868-1912)
Top of Page

County Histories

Works written on the county include:
MassachusettsSuffolk CountyNorfolk CountyPlymouth CountyMiddlesex CountyEssex CountyNorfolk CountyBostonChelseaRevereWinthropNeedhamBrooklineDedhamWestwoodNorwoodCantonRandolphBraintreeWeymouthHinghamHullQuincyMiltonNewtonWatertownWalthamLexingtonWoburnWinchesterArlingtonBelmontCambridgeSomervilleMedfordStonehamMelroseMaldenEverettSaugusLynnNanhant
Modern city and town borders in Suffolk County, Massachusetts.


Top of Page

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 Vital Records page.

Top of Page

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. For Suffolk County, they start in 1639.

Suffolk Registry of Deeds
24 New Chardon Street
Boston MA 02114
Phone 617-788-6250
Email Suffolk.Deeds@sec.state.ma.us

Original records

The records since 1976 can be viewed from their Search Page. Note the search criteria and search option menus in the upper left corner. This is a relatively new site (2012) and less transparent than before.

  • Land Record books.
    Note: Records from 1893 (v. 2171) are online as "unindexed property." From the search page above, go to the Search Criteria menu and click on "Unindexed Property Search" and enter the volume and page you want and click search. A dialogue box appears below. Click on any link and another dialogue box appears to the right. Click on the tab "View Images" and a pop-up window will display the page (if it does not, you need to allow this site or disable your pop-up blocker).
    Record location:
    Deeds, v. 7871 (1964) to present are in the main section of the Registry.
    Deeds, v. 4553-7870 (1924-1964) are in the "Old" Bookroom at the back of the Registry building.
    Deeds, v. 2171-4552 (1893-1924) are not currently physically accessible (but are online as mentioned above).
    Deeds, v. 101-2170 (1800-1893) are at:
Massachusetts Archives
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston MA 02125
Phone 617-727-2816 (ask for Archives Reference Desk).
Deeds, v. 1-100 (1639-1799) are at the Archives above, but restricted. These deeds can be seen on microfilm and have been transcribed verbatim to 1688 (see published records below).
  • Land Court records.
  • Grantor/Grantee index, 1961-1978 (online).
  • Old Recorded Land Plan books, v. 1-5, 7 (from 1800s).
  • Recorded Land Plan Index, 1935-1999 (online).
  • Suffolk County Atlases (online):
    Boston, 1874, 1890 (w/Roxbury), 1899, 1910, 1917, 1938 (all w/S. Boston).
    Brighton, 1897, 1917, 1925.
    Charlestown, 1875, 1901, 1912 (w/E. Boston).
    Chelsea, 1874, 1914, 1981.
    Dorchester, 1904, 1910, 1933.
    East Boston, 1892, 1901, 1912 (see Charlestown).
    Hyde Park, 1912.
    Roxbury, 1890 (see Boston), 1895, 1899, 1906, 1931.
    West Roxbury, 1874, 1896, 1905, 1914.
Original records on microfilm
Published records
Suffolk Deeds Online
  • Volume - Years covered - Links
  1. - 1629-1653 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  2. - 1653-1656 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  3. - 1656-1661 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  4. - 1661-1665 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  5. - 1665-1668 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  6. - 1668-1672 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  7. - 1670-1672 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  8. - 1672-1674 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  9. - 1674-1676 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  10. - 1676-1678 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  11. - 1678-1680 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  12. - 1680-1683 - Internet Archive and Google books.
  13. - 1683-1686 - [No Internet Archive version found] and Google books.
  14. - 1686-1688, 1697 - Internet Archive andGoogle books.
Top of Page

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.

Suffolk County Probate and Family Court
PO Box 9667
24 New Chardon Street - 3rd Floor
Boston MA 02114
Phone 617-788-8300

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

Original records
  • First series, 1636-1893:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1636 to and including the year 1893 (Boston, 1895), 3v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL Large Q book 974.46 S2g v. # or film 496888.
  • Second series, 1894-1909:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1894 to and including the year 1909 (Boston, 1911-1913), 2v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL Large Q book 974.46 S2ga v. # or film 1597848 Items 4-5.
  • Third series, 1910-1922:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1910 to and including the year 1922 (Boston, 1927), 2v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL film 1492663 Items 1-2.
  • Fourth series, 1923-1935:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1923 to and including the year 1935 (Boston, 1941), 3v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46 P22i.
  • Fifth series, 1936-1947:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1936 to and including the year 1947 (Boston, 1951), 3v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46 P22i.
  • Sixth series, 1948-1958:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1948 to and including the year 1958 (Boston, 1961), 2v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46 P22i.
  • Seventh series, 1959-1968:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1959 to and including the year 1968 (Boston, 1969), 3v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL, but at NEHGS (Boston).
  • Eighth series, 1969-1979:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Suffolk County Probate Court 10 Year Index, 1969-1979 (Boston, 1995?), 3v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL, but at NEHGS (Boston).
  • Nineth series, 1980-1997:
    Record books:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    File papers:
    [Contact Court Archivist]
    Published Index:
    Public Index of Matters Concerning Probate, 1980-1987 Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk Probate & Family Court (Boston, 2000), 3v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL, but at NEHGS (Boston).
Microfilm records
  • Probate records, 1636-1899, with published index (1636-1893, 1894-1909), miscellaneous docket (1636-1923) [lists estates not appearing in files, etc.], docket books nos. 1-118206 (1636-1901), record books v. 1-769 (1628-1899), New Series record books v. 1-42 (1636-1766).
    FHL films 581922 (first of 439).
    Massachusetts Archives and NEHGS (Boston) have these microfilms.
  • Probate records, 1901-1916, docket books v.95-144, no. 118207-172206 (1901-1916) and record books v. 770-1102 (1900-1916).
    FHL films 1492663 (first of 39).
    Massachusetts Archives and NEHGS (Boston) have these microfilms.
  • Probate records, 1760-1870, from the Supreme Judicial Court.
    FHL film 902796.
Published records
  • Winifred Lovering Holman and Mary Lovering Holman, "Suffolk County Probate (1686-1692)" in The American Genealogist, 12 [1935-36]: 175-184, 222-234; 13 [1936-37]: 98-106; 14 [1937-38]: 34-45.
    This was the probate records during the unpopular Andros Administration that combined several colonies into one seated at Boston. This article starts with a Miscellaneous Index of estates that do not appear in the probate file papers. The bulk is the regular docket entries.
    Digital version at American Ancestors ($) linked to the pages above.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 973 D25aga v. #.
  • Suffolk County Wills: Abstracts of the earliest wills upon record in the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts: from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (Baltimore, 1984), 432 pp.
    Digital version at Ancestry ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46 P2s or film 1320548 Item 1.
  • Melinde Lutz Sanborn, Miscellaneous Docket Index, Suffolk County, Mass. Probate Records, 1639-1866 (Derry, N.H., 1997 or Rockport, Me., 1997), 31 pp.
    This booklet indexes several hundred early Suffolk County probate records where the original file papers were lost prior to the Civil War and only the entries in the copybook remain today. The booklet includes the individual's name, date of the earliest entry, type of entry, and volume and page reference in the copybook series.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46 P2sm.
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

Suffolk Files

The Suffolk Files contain the earliest file papers of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and its predecessors, the Court of Assistants and the Superior Court of Judicature (1620-1800). There are also some records of the county courts and the Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace. The records contain cases not just from Suffolk County, but from Massachusetts and parts of Maine and New Hampshire. This was the result of the circuit nature of several of the courts and the fact that most of the action brought before the upper courts had been appealed from lower courts throughout the region. Extensive indices of every person, place, and subject, as well as date and calendar indices were prepared. Microfilm of the Suffolk Files and indices is available in the Massachusetts Archives Reading Room.

Original records
  • [Contact Court Archivist]
Microfilmed records

This is an inventory of the microfilms held by the Judicial Archives and available at the Massachusetts Archives Reading Room.

  • Suffolk Files, FHL film 909870 (first of 1639 reels).
  • Index to calendar index, 1629-1700.
  • Calendar index, #1-4878, 1643-1700; undated 24362-28991, 98505-98885, 129996-130016, 162001-162525, 1629-1700.
  • Index to Suffolk Files, A-Z, 1629-1729.
  • Index to Suffolk Files, A-Z, 1730-1799.
  • Misc. index to Court Files, A-Z, 1629-1795.
  • County index, #100001-108682, 129726-130072, 1687-1799.
  • County index, #13700-141578, York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Hancock, Washington counties, 1734-1797.
  • County index, Essex, Norfolk, Middlesex counties, 1731-1797.
  • County index, Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Dukes, Hampshire, Plymouth counties, 1733-1797.
  • County index, #15200-156870, Worcester, 1736-1797.
  • Date index, 1618-1693.
  • Index to fragments, #1-1590, 1629-1700, undated.
  • Suffolk Files, #1-175581, v. 1-1287 (738 reels).
Top of Page

County Courts

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. These records are included in the Suffolk Files mentioned above.

Microfilmed records
  • See Suffolk Files listed above.
  • Court records, 1680-1692, FHL film 947731.
Published records
Top of Page

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. A county copy of marriages were recorded here from 1726 to 1737.

Original records
  • [Contact Court Archivist]
Microfilmed records
Top of Page

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. A county copy of births, marriages, and deaths were recorded here from 1724 to 1788 for the towns of Abington, Bridgewater, Duxbury, Halifax, Hanson, Kingston, Marshfield, Middleborough, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Scituate, and Wareham. Note: Volume 19 of original records contains marriages from 1771 to 1795.

Original records
  • [Contact Court Archivist]
Microfilmed records
Published
Top of Page

Superior Court

This court was created in 1859 and combines the authority of the two courts listed above. The Superior Court has original jurisdiction in civil actions over $25,000, and in matters where equitable relief is sought. It also has original jurisdiction in actions involving labor disputes where injunctive relief is sought, and has exclusive authority to convene medical malpractice tribunals.

The Court has exclusive original jurisdiction in first degree murder cases and original jurisdiction for all other crimes. It has jurisdiction over all felony matters, although it shares jurisdiction over crimes where other Trial Court Departments have concurrent jurisdiction. Finally, the Superior Court has appellate jurisdiction over certain administrative proceedings.

Superior Court Administrative Office
Suffolk County Courthouse, 13th Floor
Three Pemberton Square
Boston MA 02108
Phone 617-788-8130

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

Original records
  • [Contact Court Archivist]
Microfilmed records
Top of Page

Supreme Judicial Court

This is the highest court in the state and taking cases by appeal, writ of error, capital offenses, and "every Crime whatsoever that is against the public good."

Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk
John Adams Court House, 1st Floor
One Pemberton Square - Suite 1300
Boston MA 02108
Phone 617-557-1050
Email sjccountyclerk@sjc.state.ma.us

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

Microfilmed records
Published
Top of Page

Miscellaneous Court Records

Miscellaneous Records

  • Miscellaneous papers (arranged chronologically), v. 1-4, 1679-1808, from the county courthouse, these records include deeds, wills recongizances, accounts, writs, summons, and miscellaneous papers.
    FHL films 902791-902794.
  • Sacco & Vanzetti, committee files, 1927-1939 (2 reels).
    At the Massachusetts Archives.

County Sheriff

Court of Admiralty

Divorce Records
Jurisdiction over divorce matters changes over time. The Governor and Council heard cases before 1785, then it was the Supreme Judicial Court until 1887, followed by the Superior Court until 1922, and presently this is a matter for the Probate and Family Court (with minor exceptions in all periods). See the various court records above.

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 are outlines below.

Top of Page

Maps

This list includes maps of particular interest to genealogists, and is not an effort to trace the vast cartographic history of the county in full.

  • Griffith Morgan Hopkins, Atlas of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts (Philadelphia, 1873-1875), 7v.
    v. 1 - Boston proper; v. 2 - Roxbury (Boston Wards 12-15); v. 3 - South Boston and Dorchester; v. 4 - East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop; v. 5 - West Roxbury (Boston Ward 17); v. 6 - Charlestown (Boston Wards 20-22); v. 7 - Brighton (Boston Ward 19).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL X Large Folio 974.46 E7h v. #.
Top of Page

Societies

Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02215
Phone 617-536-1608
Email via website
This is the oldest historical society in the country founded in 1791. It is a private library with no fee for access. They are not a genealogical library, though they hold historical material useful for genealogical research. Their strength is their vast manuscript holdings and pre-1820 print collection. They are the home for the Adams Family Papers. The library has free wifi access and their catalog is online.

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116
Phone 617-536-5740
Email from directory on website
This is the oldest genealogical society in the United States founded in 1845 by members of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Its strengths are colonial period, New England, northeast United States, Eastern Canada, and United Kingdom. They have an extensive manuscript collection and a large genealogical database online that includes the Massachusetts Vital Records from 1841 to 1920. It is a private membership organization which grants the user access to their library holdings and online databases. There is free wifi in the library and their catalog is online.

Top of Page


References